Why You Should Skip Free DNC Software

Shop floor employee working on a laptop in front of a CNC Control

The benefits of DNC software when it comes to managing your CNC programs, machine parameters, and offsets are well known. As a result, many businesses look to offer some form of DNC software or their own, ranging from thousands of dollars to absolutely free. While free DNC software options may seem like a great deal, the limitations they create are often detrimental to your business.

As professional manufacturing integrators for over 20 years, Shop Floor Automations has seen and experienced both the good and the bad DNC software options out there, and now we want to share some of the things we’ve learned about free DNC options with you. Below, we’ll outline exactly why you should look to invest in your business’s success and skip free DNC software.

Drawbacks of Free DNC Software

In short, free DNC software is simply incapable of offering the same value you can expect from full versions. While perhaps useful in the short term for the smallest of shops, those free options won’t be able to deliver any worthwhile benefit if you’re looking to increase your capabilities and production rates. Let’s dive further into a few of the major limitations.

              Lack of Capability & Flexibility

Free DNC software almost always comes with limitations on both the types of machines and programmed instructions it can support. If you are looking to connect various types of machines performing several unique functions, your free software option won’t keep up. Instead, choose an option that allows you to connect any brand, type, and age of CNC machine to ensure your software can grow alongside your business.

              Inability to Grow with You

One of DNC software’s significant benefits is its powerful ability to increase production rates easily and rapidly. While a free version may work for you now, it will severely limit the number of machines you can connect. Anything more than a small handful of devices is going to demonstrate the limitations of free software immediately. In addition, newer machines with Ethernet connection are left out and you will be forced to use other software to manages these machines.  As you begin growing, your needs will quickly outpace the capabilities of any free DNC software option you choose.

Does Free DNC Software Offer Any Value?

Free DNC software options are not all bad. If you are relatively new to the world of DNC software, it may be beneficial to try one of these free options out for a few weeks. While it will not give you anywhere near a clear image of what exactly DNC software is capable of, it can be an effective way to dip your toe in the water. However, we don’t recommend relying on a free option for any extended amount of time. Keep in mind, if you need support or help getting your CNC machine communicating, it usually endss up costing you more since there is no one to call and support is left to an email address with hopes a timely response is provided.

Invest in Your Success with DNC Software

Improving your CNC networking, securing ethernet transfers, combining with PDM for CNC revision control, and integrating with other manufacturing automation software: these are the benefits you can expect from true DNC software. Investing in this software now means upgrading your capabilities, your productivity, and your overall profitability.

Interested in True DNC Software? Try the Real Deal For Yourself.

Whether you have grown frustrated with the abilities of your free DNC software or want to try DNC software for the first time, Shop Floor Automations is here to help. We offer a 30-day software trial run to help you test out the software and be sure it meets your needs.

After discussing your current system and needs, we will work together to help you configure a few of your machines, give you an overview of the interface, and validate bi-direction communication for the full extent of the 30 days. From there, we will let you run things, giving you a chance to truly experience the software without intervention. Participating in this trial comes at no charge, and there is no obligation to purchase the software after the trial ends. Just complete this form, and we’ll walk you through the rest!

We look forward to helping automate your shop floor!

What is the Best DNC Software?

A clip art depiction of several machines at work sorting packages while a shop floor manager assesses the data collected via the machine monitoring software on their tablet.

Known for their ability to streamline shop floor processes, boost productivity, and generally make your manufacturing process easier, industry leaders rely on DNC software across the board. However, when it comes to determining the best DNC software for your specific needs, it can be challenging to sort through all the information and confusion out there. To help facilitate the process, we’ve compiled this brief overview of a few of the DNC software options which exist and how you can determine which best suits your needs.

First, What Are Those Needs?

When you think of ways your shop floor could improve efficiency, what are some of the first strategies that come to mind? Some of the most common problems DNC software provides solutions pertain to:

  • Difficulties with the ability to integrate your software on legacy equipment.
  • A lack of transparency in your CNC network security.
  • Concerns over the elevated costs associated with upgrading older equipment
  • Obstacles integrating existing equipment with other applications in the future, including machine monitoring, tool management, and paperless manufacturing options.

If any of these concerns resonate with you, a quality DNC software can be the answer.

Next, What is Your Budget?

While we never recommend deciding on a solution based on price alone, determining your budget prior to the shopping process is a great first step in finding the best DNC software. Luckily, a wide range of options exist, so finding a great product that meets your budgetary and capability requirements will be possible.

Top DNC Software Programs Compared


Designed to keep things simple while retaining function, CIMCO DNC-Max Software is a nice option for everyone from small shops to large corporate enterprises. You have the ability to access this software from both desktop and mobile devices, helping you easily access information at any time. CIMCO DNC software has the added benefit of seamless integration with CIMCO editing software and offers a wide range of CNC and hardware compatibility. However, while this software is a decent product for the price, there are several other options with additional capabilities for even further benefit.

2.) Ascendant eXtremeDNC

The first 32-bit, multi-threaded, multi-tasking, and open architecture application for the DNC market, this software ensures future compatibility, reliability, and seamless operation for all Windows based operating systems and respective network environments.

Additional offers include:

  • Reliable RS232 communication via wireless & wired connections
  • Support for most CNC controls
  • The ability to self-install or implement onsite
  • Support for Windows 10, 7, Server 2016/2019 – 32-bit & 64-bit systems
  • Premier service provider for over 10 years

A top solution for client/server installations, visit our Ascendant eXtremeDNC Software page to learn more.

1.) Predator DNC Software

At number one on our list is Predator DNC software. One of the most rigorous and advanced DNC software options available, Predator DNC allows you to network all CNCs, EDMs, PLCs, & robots with a singular DNC package.

Additional features include:

  • Eliminated walking time to & from CNC to PC
  • Fast and simple server / client configuration
  • Support for major CNC protocols, including Mazatrol (CMT), Okuma B, and Xmodem
  • Send, receive, or drip-feed hundreds of machines from a single server/computer
  • Highly flexible connectivity options include wireless, serial RS232, Ethernet, & USB
  • Eliminate More Server, FileZilla, CuteFTP, NetShare, and other similar software using SecureDNC
  • Windows 10, 7, and Server 2019 and 2016 are also supported.

If you’d like to check out the benefits of Predator DNC software for yourself, Shop Floor Automations offers a 30-day free trial. Give yourself a risk free way to see software in action at your shop; visit our Predator Software Downloads page and try it out for yourself.

Selecting & Integrating DNC Software with Shop Floor Automations

If you are looking to install DNC software at your facility, Shop Floor Automations can help. We have years of experience and a skilled team able to provide excellent support for you at every turn. If you would like our guidance on which software is best for you, or are ready to get started on your project, give us a call today at (619) 461-4000.

Predator DNC – 5 Reasons That Now is the Time to Buy

buy predator dnc now

For many years, Shop Floor Automations has been touting the efficacy of Predator DNC software. With a host of specialized features designed to help you optimize your shop floor equipment and processes, putting this software to work for you could just change the way your facility operates for the better. Providing a consolidated, industrial networking solution for all your CNC machines, let’s take a closer look at five reasons why your shop floor can no longer afford to go without the benefits of Predator DNC software.

Simplify CNC Communications to Increase Reliability

If you are still using USB drives, floppy disks, PCMCIA cards, paper tape, or some personally devised hardware solution to communicate with your CNC machines, you should know that there is a better, simpler, and more reliable way of doing things.

Predator DNC provides true networking solutions, ensuring that the entire manufacturing process becomes more reliable and your team becomes more productive as a result. Able to support virtually every CNC machine, robot, 3D printer, CMM, and other machinery, Predator DNC can be used to support an unlimited number of industrial manufacturing equipment if done correctly.

That single industrial network for every machine creates simpler, yet more effective CNC communications within your facility, eliminating the multiple methods and/or applications of CNC communications you may have been relying on previously.

Additionally, Predator Software allows you to centralize and simplify the backup and the management of your CNC programs by putting everything into one straightforward platform. Send, receive, and drip feed your CNC programs, offsets, variables, and registers all in one integrated application.

Simplify ISO 900x Compliance

Another important benefit Predator DNC can have on the simplicity and ease of your operations is its power to assist with ISO Compliance.

Used by organizations of all sizes and in all industries, the current ISO standards are internationally recognized as the benchmark by which to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products and services which meet customer & regulatory requirements. Predator software helps to make meeting these rigorous standards more natural within your processes.

Increase Functionality

Predator DNC software offers a wide range of intelligent advancements that serve to increase the functionality of your CNC machines and your entire shop floor. With the latest versions of CNC programs, you will be able to reduce mistakes and avoid production mix-ups before they start. Predator DNC software also gives you the ability to:

  • Run large CNC programs with comparatively little CNC memory
  • Share CNC program access among similar CNC machines
  • Control and edit CNC programs directly and easily
  • Eliminate walking to and from the programming office and CNC to transfer part program using remote request
  • Standardize on one software application to communicate to every CNC
  • Network legacy Windows-based CNCs without connecting to the Windows Domain
  • Access programs immediately, multiple machines can download programs at the same time
  • And integrate with existing Predator Machine Monitoring and Product Data Management Software

Additionally, Predator’s bar code and QR code operations work to reduce even further production mistakes. Scanning one or more bar codes ensures you have the correct programs automatically downloaded to each CNC.

Save Time

Those familiar with the industry know just how important time is to overall production and profitability. Predator DNC software gives you and your team the ability to save your most valuable resource, time, in more effective ways.

Loading programs on USB drives, floppy disks, or PCMCIA cards, and walking them to the CNC to then load them on the CNC could take several minutes. Reducing this time to five-ten minutes to complete the process for all your CNCs could pay for the solution within weeks simply in production time saved. Furthermore, the security of revision control is completely lost when using the above-mentioned methods. A scrap part on the shop floor due to running the wrong part program or changes made by the operator could be lost if never connected to the DNC system.

Additionally, Predator Software’s ease of implementation can reduce your IT Department’s time to configure, train, and operate the system from uninterrupted workflows, and machine downtime.

Compatible with Standard Hardware

Since 1994 when Predator DNC was released, the industry has developed with hundreds of brands of machines and controller models. However, the product works with industry-standard RS-232 serial hardware, including Ethernet and wireless serial/ethernet devices, standard hubs, switch boxes, and USB compatible ports. Predator is leading the IIoT deployment, connecting hundreds of machines through standard Windows applications that can run as Windows Service for Server Environments.

Make the Most of Your Predator Software with Shop Floor Automations

Founded in 1998, Shop Floor Automations has helped increase efficiencies and profits for thousands of customers with proven software from Scytec, Ascendant Technologies, and Predator Software. As the #1 Predator Software Reseller, we are ready to partner with you to do the same.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of Predator Software or are ready to make a purchase that will help your shop floor processes become even more proficient, contact our team today.

What Does DNC Stand for in Machining?

A CNC programmer on the shop floor pulls up a program on his CNC machine via a DNC network.

At its most elementary, DNC stands for Distributive Numerical Control in machining. Also known as Direct Numerical Control, DNC technology allows one single computer to be networked with multiple machines to create a faster, more cohesive, and productive shop floor ecosystem. But that definition is just the beginning of what DNC means for industrial and manufacturing professionals and processes. More than running a program from a computer to a machine, DNC should be understood as a process in order to reap the greatest rewards.

The Three “Components” of DNC


The Machine

A CNC machine is responsible for processing a piece of material to meet specifications. It follows a set of instructions in the form of a coded program to do so. These machines can take the form of lathes, routers, welders, grinders, lasers, waterjet cutters, stamping machines, robots, and more. They build the things we use every day and can include just about any computer-controlled machine. With powerful DNC software, some of these machines can even communicate back to the computer, providing data that the software and engineers can use to make processes more efficient and faster.

The Computer

If the machines are the limbs, the computer acts as the brain for a networked shop floor. Holding the coded instructions and using the DNC software, the computer will send instructions to the machines it controls. Providing a high degree of accuracy, many of these systems are capable of interacting with your shop floor in unique ways. Using DNC software, computers can decrease the amount of communication required between itself and each tool it controls.

The Computer Link Connecting Them

The connection between the two above components allows the computer and multiple machines to be in constant and direct contact with each other. While some machines are connected via RS232 serial cables, many newer machines are often connected via Ethernet or Cat 5 cables.


The Functions of DNC Systems

Now that we know what DNC means and what it is, we can better understand why it is so crucial to the way we manufacture and produce goods today. The main functions of DNC systems are as follows:

  • A way for computers to store and edit programs for every machine tool connected in the network.
  • For on-demand delivery of stored programs to the connected machines
  • To process part programs written in higher-level languages, such as APT.
  • To combine CAD with CAM through a common, shared database.
  • And to provide a link between the central computer and others spread across multiple facilities through modems and networks, even when located miles away.


Understanding DNC with Shop Floor Automations

Shop Floor Automations is dedicated to providing you with the best possible level of service and support when it comes to your machine monitoring needs. If you are searching for a particular product or solution, or simply want to work with an expert to create further improvements to your shop floor processes, we are here for you.

Contact our team today to get started on your most efficient and powerful shop floor.

Season’s greetings to you and yours!

Thank you for your business, your partnership, and your friendship. We love what we do and that’s because we enjoy working with you all so much.

Things get hectic this time of year. We want to provide you with our holiday schedule so you’ll know when you can reach us.


Thursday Dec 24th – Office closes at noon.

Friday Dec 25th – Office closed all day.

Thursday Dec 31st – Office closes at noon.

Friday Jan 1st – Office closed all day.


Other than the days listed above, we’ll be observing our normal business hours of 7am to 4:00pm, Monday – Friday.

We wish everyone a Happy Holidays and A wonderful New Year!

Christmas Wreath on a Door

Comparing Manual Transfer vs DNC System Technologies

A shop floor worker opens up a CAD file from a master computer, which houses all the data to be sent to machines via a DNC network.

Our manufacturing environment relies heavily upon fully integrated and automated computerization systems for greater precision, accuracy, and convenience. From the simple numerical control systems of the 1940s to the wide breadth of integrated Distributive Numerical Control (DNC) system technologies we have today, these advancements are continuing to improve the way we automate shop floors and expedite manufacturing processes.

In this article, we take a closer look at two common ways to transfer files into CNCs: Manual Transfer Systems and DNC Systems. Each with their own set of potential benefits and hazards, read on for a greater understanding of how the two systems work and which one may be best for your facility’s needs and specifications.

First, What is DNC?

Direct Numerical Control, more recently known as Distributive Numerical Control (DNC), allows a single master computer to house all manufacturing data and be networked with machines that use Computer Numerical Control (CNC). Typically using a broadband Ethernet connection, this network allows operators to quickly load CNC programs into multiple machines automatically. By establishing a direct connection between the computer housing the data and all CNC machines on the

A CNC technician works with a CNC program on his laptop, which is drip fed to the CNC machine through a DNC network.

shop floor, DNC systems have quickly become an invaluable resource for operators and consumers alike.

Advantages of DNC System Technologies

Beyond simple convenience, there are several additional benefits to using DNC systems. A few that you can expect are:

  • Improved ability and flexibility of computation for more efficient manufacturing
  • Highly reliable transfers for machine programs, offsets, parameters, etc.
  • Superior shop performance reporting, which can be used to make positive operational changes
  • Highly convenient editing and diagnostic features for improved machine functionality
  • File management and revision control to maintain NC program compliance

In short, DNC system technologies can help you seamlessly and easily control multiple programmable robots with less manual input for greater productivity.

Compared to Manual Transfer Systems…

When comparing DNC systems with Manual Transfer Systems (MTSs), the differences are both readily apparent and extremely telling. Using portable media such as USB sticks and PCMCIA cards, MTSs require operators to walk to the central computer, load the desired NC program on the CNC, walk to the CNC machine, plug in the device and load the program into each individual machine or unit.

Both time consuming and unnecessary, this process has the potential to harm the CNC equipment by damaging the port or the pins while inserting and removing the card. Furthermore, security is a concern due to uncontrolled files with proprietary information and intellectual property moving from a secured computer to employees.  With today’s viruses and ransomware, using USB sticks could lock out your CNC and computer network if one is not aware of what is loaded on these devices.

It’s time your facility caught up with the best practices and considered implementing DNC system technologies.

Shop Floor Automations: Your Partner in DNC System Technologies

Shop Floor Automations has helped thousands of companies increase shop floor efficiencies and profits through proven automation software and DNC system integration. We want to help you do the same.

If you would like further insight into which DNC system technology is best for your specific needs, we can help. With a wide variety of machine automation and DNC software products to choose from, you will have access to all the resources necessary to create a fully automated, more productive shop floor.

Contact our team today to get started on your DNC system integration or to learn more about our other machine automation services.

See us in Manufacturing News – Nov 2020


Manufacturing News – November 2020

Shop Floor Automations’ ad in Manufacturing News this past month of November 2020.

Please take a look and see what else is going on in the Manufacturing News Nov. 2020 issue.

There are some foundational abilities that a Shop Floor needs to have to compete in 2021 and beyond.

That includes the following:

  • DNC
    • Send to Machine
    • Receive from Machine
    • Remote Request
    • Subroutines & Sub Programs
    • Tool Restart after tool break
  • Machine Monitoring
    • Accountability and Traceability
    • Real-time signage
    • Improve productivity
    • Impartial metrics
    • Reward results
  • Production Document Management
    • Paperless mfg
    • Revision control
    • Reduce the # of documents
    • Controlled documents
    • Product mix avoidance
    • Resolve CAPA’s

SFA has become the industry leader in Shop Floor Communications and Machine Monitoring Solutions. Totally redefining what “Shop Floor Automation” solutions should be.  We have thousands of customers from across the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe and Asia.

Monitor Machines in addition to CNC’s such as Plasma Cutters, Ovens, Grinders, Autoclaves and more

Shop Floor Automations (SFA), has been a leader in the realm of working with CNC machines to connect them to DNC or to add A Dynatorch plasma cutting machine at work, one of the many types of machines that are compatible with machine monitoring technology. Machine Monitoring to them. Since many shops have a wide variety of machines to handle various needs, it is important to know what we can connect far more than just CNC’s.

The core benefits of machine monitoring still apply to Plasma Cutters, Ovens, Grinders and more.

  • Uptime reporting
  • Operator assignment stuff
  • Other things that still apply to non CNC’s

With LAN-USB, network outage protection also occurs via a local server to CNC connection that is independent of the shop floor’s network. The USB function of the device allows it to act as an interface between commercially available USB sticks and any CNC control with a functioning RS232 port. Machine programs can be sent from the CNC memory to the USB stick, USB to CNC memory, or can be drip-fed (DNC) from the USB.

A shot of a shop floor, featuring various production machines that are set up on a machine monitoring network. Flexible CNC communication firmware is built into the unit. This allows for a connection to a large variety of machine tool controls. The device buffers the entire program at the machine, and acts as a dedicated computer that responds instantaneously to data flow changes from the CNC.

Positioning this device on the control allows the machine to run at its maximum baud rate. This will prevent a machinist from having to walk back and forth from the DNC PC to the machine in order to initiate machine operation. This important feature allows the LAN-USB to increase your shop floor efficiency by maximizing productivity and reducing downtime.

Find out if we can connect all of your machines.

You can call us at (877) 611-5825 or email us at info@shopfloorautomations.com or complete the form below and we’ll contact you. Once we help you add monitoring to your machines, we’ll support you with our industry leading support team!

New Device from Shop Floor Automations Combines Ability to Add USB & Ethernet To Machines

Two black binders and a pen on top of a conference table. One binder is labeled "Manufacturing Processes". Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a notable Automation Supplier for the CNC Machine Tool Industry, has released a new hardware product to add USB and Ethernet connectivity to any machine. This new hardware, LAN-USB Connect, packs a one-two punch by providing the user the ability to drag and drop files to and from the CNC machine, utilizing an Ethernet connection via FTP protocol. No logon is required because you can use anonymous logins or configure security. Even better, these functions are achieved with no special software required.

With LAN-USB, network outage protection also occurs via a local server to CNC connection that is independent of the shop floor’s network. The USB function of the device allows it to act as an interface between commercially available USB sticks and any CNC control with a functioning RS232 port. Machine programs can be sent from the CNC memory to the USB stick, USB to CNC memory, or can be drip-fed (DNC) from the USB.

Flexible CNC communication firmware is built into the unit. This allows for a connection to a large variety of machine tool controls. The device buffers the entire program at the machine, and acts as a dedicated computer that responds instantaneously to data flow changes from the CNC.

Positioning this device on the control allows the machine to run at its maximum baud rate. This will prevent a machinist from having to walk back and forth from the DNC PC to the machine in order to initiate machine operation. This important feature allows the LAN-USB to increase your shop floor efficiency by maximizing productivity and reducing downtime.

More benefits of this device come with the financial freedom of keeping an older machine in operation longer, rather than retrofitting a machine with new controllers or replacing a machine altogether. The hardware replaces cost-prohibitive measures of adding OEM memory or USB to the machine in a proprietary manner from the machine tool builder.

The LAN-USB Connect works with the majority of CNC controls on the market with a serial port. It has been tested with Haas, Mazak, Hurco, Fadal, Mitsubishi, Mori Seiki, Okuma, Siemens, and other brands. This device is also available in a “headless” version, as well as a low-cost wireless version.

Interested in the LAN-USB Connect? Contact Shop Floor Automations Today!

If you are interested in adding the LAN-USB Connect to your shop floor equipment today, contact Shop Floor Automations. With over years of experience, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to get your equipment set up with the LAN-USB connect so it can easily interface with your CNC controls. Give us a call today at (619) 461-4000 to learn more or get the order process started!

Machine Monitoring: More than Utilization Numbers

A tv monitor on a shop floor displaying machine monitoring software for various machines, most of which appear to be running and one that appears to be idle.

When most people think of machine monitoring, they think of increasing utilization, but there are other benefits to consider as well. Monitoring can provide valuable information to help with preventative maintenance, can act as a communication tool between the shop floor and management, and it can be used on all types of shop floor equipment.

Here are three benefits of OEE monitoring systems that often get overlooked:

    1. This system can integrate with other software to help optimize machine capacity.

For example, ERP systems are a great fit for machine monitoring. Also, CMMS systems paired with OEE monitoring helps to provide a more realistic PM schedule. Actual run times on your machines are monitored and the data feeds into the CMMS to create an accurate PM schedule. For manufacturers without a CMMS, a simple spreadsheet with PMs to complete sometimes is enough. The software also integrates with protocols such as MTConnect and OPC UA to make shop floor data more universally available.

    1. Machine monitoring is not just for CNC machines.

Manufacturers with autoclaves, manual machines, press brakes, PLC-driven machines, and more can monitor their productivity. Those in the fabrication and mold making industries can benefit heavily from utilization monitoring. The software is also not limited to looking at shop floor monitors or your desktop PC on location because notifications on the go via text alerts, emails, or viewing dashboards via a mobile device or tablet are all available.

    1. Machine monitoring helps operators working at machines convey important information to those not working on the shop floor.

Via data entry screens and tablets at the machines, machinists can enter notes and let back-office employees know why certain machines are down. It also helps with machine maintenance since there are notes on what causes downtime for machines. In addition, machine repairs can be anticipated so there can be planned downtime, which allows employees to map out a more streamlined process.

The Bottom Line

Machine monitoring is not only a method for knowing machine utilization, nor is it only for CNC machinery. It helps the people who are making parts at machines communicate issues that need attention in an easily understandable manner. It enables a shop floor to know what equipment needs attention in order to be more productive.

If you are interested in adding machine monitoring software to your shop floor, call us today at (619) 461-4000!