Training for machine tool process is often limited by cost and safety concerns, but a new computer-supported learning environment known as VIRTOOL utilises interactive 3D graphics and virtual reality techniques to provide valuable experience to trainees.
Targeting machine tool manufacturers, industrial end-users, and education entities, VIRTOOL makes it possible to simulate the preparation, use and first level maintenance operations of any machine working by means of movement and interaction of solid material.
The environment developed by the IST-funded project is supported by four applications: Master, Generic, Case Generator and Machine. VIRTOOL Master generates machine tool models by building a definition for each machine and assigning this definition to the different assemblies or parts of the whole machine. VIRTOOL Generic allows machine-tools manufacturers and professors to generate specific elements or accessories libraries for different machines, such as cutting tools, holders and fixtures, mounting tools or measurement tools. With the VIRTOOL Case Generator, teachers produce cases or exercises according to the learners knowledge and generate the knowledge database that later will provide feedback in VIRTOOL Machine. The teacher can define different types of cases depending the objectives of the learning activities. Based on virtual reality (VR) techniques, the VIRTOOL Machine is the application used in the training process. This application offers the learners a wide range of different interactions by using two and three-dimensional computer interfaces. It imports the machine and elements definition from Master and Generic, and the case information from VIRTOOL Case Generator.
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