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Generic Tool Catalog revolutionizes cutting tool data exchange

Siemens Experimenter Siemens Experimenter
Siemens Experimenter

Having access to complete, reliable, comprehensive cutting tool data has been a dream for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) users for a very long time. ISO (International Standards Organization) 13399 is in a process of creating a common language, but there was also a need for a standardized way of exchanging information, resulting in a new cutting tool data exchange format, GTC. The GTC data exchange format was developed as collaboration between Siemens PLM Software, and our partners Sandvik Coromant, Iscar and Kennametal. Also Cimsource and Machining Cloud were participants in the definition process. GTC is an addition on top of ISO 13399 and it does not contradict it.


NTB Interstate University of Technology Buchs, an institute that specializes in engineering informatics, recently announced a new website, The website provides information on how to use the Generic Tool Catalog (GTC) cutting tool data exchange format, to help expand use of new format. This is the first time that GTC is made available to all tool vendors and application developers enabling them to communicate through this format.


GTC enables a direct connection between the tool vendor and the application without the need of an intermediary company. GTC format catalogs from Sandvik Coromant, Iscar, Kennametal and other companies are currently being deployed into production by leading manufacturing companies. This process assures that the published data has been field-tested and found to be appropriate for production use.


The new site makes available to cutting tool vendors and applications developers information about GTC. We are fully committed to GTC as it specifies a standard format suitable for cutting tool data exchange. It avoids the need to create interfaces for different cutting tool vendors and applications. This is a crucial step for its deployment by additional cutting tool vendors.


While having a standard format is a necessary precondition; only by having wide-spread deployment can turn it into a success. For that purpose we need your help in requesting data in ISO 13399/GTC format. It is important to understand that Siemens PLM is not a cutting tool catalog provider. Catalogs should be obtained through the different manufacturers. Sandvik and Kennametal currently have processes for providing such data while others like Iscar and Walter can do so on a per request basis.


Siemens’ Manufacturing Resource Library (MRL), a Teamcenter® portfolio application that provides classification and data management for manufacturing engineering resources, can import catalogs in GTC format starting from version 10.1.4. It enables using the tool data and 3D models to create tool assemblies that can be seamlessly used in the company’s NX™ software for tool assembly creation and in NX CAM for tool path creation and simulation.


If your engineering data is managed in Teamcenter, it enables you to locate “where used” data for a certain cutting tool component. This capability is critical when a certain tool is discontinued by the vendor and the process has to be re-certified using another cutting tool component. Teamcenter can also store technological data so that feeds and speeds that have been successfully used in the past can be reused as a reference for new projects.


NX CAM can connect to Teamcenter either in a full PLM environment or can just use Teamcenter just as a cutting tool library. In this case Teamcenter does not need to be installed in the client and can be even located in the Cloud. This setup facilitates sharing the same tool library between the OEM and suppliers.


Tool Assembly setup sheets, including a Build of Materials (BOM) and call outs, can be created using NX Drafting. This data is essential for assembling the tool assembly in the shop floor.


While some gaps still exist in the process available, Siemens sees the cutting tool domain of strategic importance for the part manufacturing process and more developments can be expected in this area in the future.


Written by: Marcel Keinan, Siemens PLM Software


To learn more about the Generic Tool Catalog, read the published NTB news release, NTB collaborates with Siemens, Sandvik, Iscar and Kennametal to make GTC data exchange format avail....”


Please write your questions or comments in the COMMENTS section below and give this article a "kudo" if you like it!





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Is the GTC only for TEAMCENTER or can i use it in NX CAM too without TEAMCENTER?

Siemens Experimenter
Christoph2 (Dreamer) Hi,

This is a short question with a long answer as it has several possible use cases that we need to examine at length.

The first use case is to read ISO 13399/GTC catalogs into the NX ASCII library. This is currently not possible but even if it was; the ASCII tool library of NX was never designed to handle 40K tools which is the typical size of one catalog; let alone several of these catalogs. Even if someone develops this functionality then it would be really cumbersome to use these tools in NX because of the search process and because GTC catalogs contains tools; not tool assemblies.

The second use case would be to use a third party tool manager. All of these tools have their own advantages and disadvantages that I will leave it to you to find out by yourself as I am not allowed to go into competitors’ analysis.

The third use case is to have a small local TC installation only as a tool library; TC MRL would import the GTC catalog and the NX workflow would proceed as usual. In this case TC will NOT control file save / load and the NX user would NOT work in a managed environment. This is not much different than other tool management tools that require a data base for tool management. In this environment the tool assembly creation would be done in TC MRL (Manufacturing Resource Library) and the usage would be done in NX CAM without any TC user interface using the “Import tool from library” functionality of NX CAM.
There could be a twist in this use case where the TC MRL installation could be done in a remote site by a Services Provider so you will not have a local TC installation but a remote one. Access to this TC installation by NX would be “over the cloud” still in a transparent mode for the NX CAM user.

The selection criteria among the different possibilities would include several factors:

1) Are you considering using TC anyway because of TC advantages? In this case TC MRL is another advantage

2) Are you limited on the number of SW suppliers you are dealing with?

3) How smooth is the interaction of the different tools with NX CAM?

4) Are you willing to allow any NX CAM programmer to create their own tool assemblies or would you rather have a single “Tool Administrator” doing this task?

5) Would you like to know in which project a certain tool has been used in the past?

6) Do you need to keep a large amount of projects done in the past?

7) …

I could go on but this short list gives you an idea which questions you should start asking before taking any decision.

With Best Regards,

Marcel Keinan
Manufacturing Engineering


This is Sahaj.

As you mentioned in the post that tools in MRL can be used in a company's  NX™ software. Meaning the whole library is accessible to NX™, we can browse the tools and use them in CAM programming as required.

But this means to utilize MRL fully, companies need to buy  NX™ as well.

What if users have other CAD/CAM platform as primary 3d resource? Like, CATIA V5 or Creo from PTC?

Is Siemens also working on this? Making MRL data accessible seamlessly to other CAM systems?


DS, France has brought a fantastic product, 3DEXPERIENCE. What about data exchange from MRL to there? As far as I know 3DEXPERIENCE works on ENOVIA, whereas TC/MRL uses Oracle's database. Is there any work going on at Siemens in this direction. If the data exchange is not possible, does that mean companies need to stick to CATIA V5 for CAM and use V6/3DEXPERIENCE for CAD. This sounds unfair.


As MRL is comparatively new, what do you see in the future for it? Are other companies also adapting to it? Especially tool vendors?


What about automating the process of toolsheets (drawings of tool assemblies for tool assembly makers) creation? With complete BOM details and dimensions? CATIA V5 needs wireframe geometry of tools for CAM simulation. If the data transfer between MRL and CATIA V5 is possible can this also be automated?


At this point, I see MRL has just began to show it's capabilities. I am sure there is more in the future for it.







Sanaj Hello,


Thank you for the kind words!


Regarding the connectivity to other systems. I totally understand your situation and I hope you understand ours. We offer distinct advantages to those that use our integrated solution, in this case MRL and NX CAM. This is reflected in the easy of adapting tool assemblies, BOM, in the tool assembly drawings and in other capabilities. Siemens PLM has a strategy of open systems that can be interfaced to any other system and provide them all of their needed data. I know there had been talks on this topic with some customers. I do not know where does this stand at the moment.  


Regarding MRL and the tool vendors. As you can see in the article above, we support ISO 13399/GTC which is an open format. We have even supported the cration of a neutral site ( that supports tool vendors on how to create catalogs ISO 13399/GTC format. Several customers already have access to these catalogs and other vendors are working on it as well. This is another aspect of openess; we are not asking the tool vendor to create application specific data that fits MRL but rather we are using an open standard (ISO 13399/GTC) for the cutting tool data interface. This format can also be used by other applications as well. In parallel many of the main tool vendors (like Sandvik, Iscar, Mitsubishi Materials) have MRL and NX CAM so they can create their data in an open format and test the implementation in MRL so that the user gets a high quality catalog.


We are currently working closely with our customers to learn how we can provide them more value for our solution and I can assure you that that more MRL capabilities are in the oven.


I kind of feel you would like to have another answer but this is where are ... at the moment ...


Best Regards,



Hello Marcel,


Thanks for the reply.

I guess you are correct that as MRL in an integral part of Teamcenter NX will be at an advantage here compared to other systems.

And I believe those customers who have CAM systems other than NX, Siemens may provide some add-in 'translators' for data exchange, which unfortunately they have to purchase additionally!


Could you also explain how people in the toolroom/shop floor will be able to access the MRL library? I have heard this name frequently: Shop Floor Connect. What is that?





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