Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just say no (politely) to drawings.




Some shops spend hundreds of hours each year redrawing parts that have been submitted to them as PDF or paper drawings. Where did these PDFs come from?  Most of these drawings were generated based on models resident in their customers’ CAD systems. When shops make a point of consistently and politely asking the customer for the CAD file, the savings resulting from elimination of hours spent duplicating the model can be tens of thousands of dollars.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mastercam Summer Teacher Training Registration Now Open

At CNC Software, we know that continuing instructor training is essential to the success of any school’s program. This is precisely why we have been conducting our Mastercam Summer Teacher Training (STT) for almost 20 years.

Classes are held at our Educational Office in Gig Harbor, Washington, where attendees receive top-notch, training designed specifically for instructors. This unique training program allows teachers to focus on learning the latest Mastercam software while surrounded with a supportive community that truly understands the unique needs of the advanced manufacturing technology classroom.

Go to www.mastercam.com/STT for full information on classes, specials, and registration.

Schedule

Beginning Projects: July 7-11, 2014
A great class for instructors who have some experience in CAD/CAM/CNC but are seeking the knowledge and confidence to add (or enhance) a project-based curriculum in their classroom.

Mastercam Fundamentals: July 14-18
This class is designed to take the complete beginner from feeling intimidated to feeling comfortable working with and teaching the tools in Mastercam.

Advanced Projects—Mold Making: July 14-18
Although mold making seems simple, it can be difficult to do well. This class will cover the varied types of molds, the essentials of good mold making, and work through multiple exercises. You must have good working knowledge of Mastercam to sign up for this class.

Mastercam for SolidWorks: July 28-August 1
Use the great toolpaths available in Mastercam directly inside SolidWorks. This class is designed for instructors who have some SolidWorks experience and are looking to take the next step by introducing CNC machining. This class is not offered every year.

Mastercam Art: July 28-August 1
Make your class a student favorite with Mastercam Art! You will learn how to create projects with Art that will add personal appeal to students.

Teaching the Mastercam High School Curriculum Suite: August 4-8
Prepare to use the Mastercam High School Curriculum Suite in your classroom by working through its major components.


Friday, April 11, 2014

CAM Upgrades Keep Manufacturer in Growth Mode

  
Yvette Pagano, president of CAR Engineering and Manufacturing, Inc. (Victor, NY) lives in a bifurcated manufacturing world. Half of the income generated by this 50-person job shop derives from the company’s regional leadership in multi-slide production metal stamping. This is as it should be, since excellence in the field of metal stamping was the intention of Yvette’s father, Charlie Rogers, when he founded the company in 1986.

The other half of the business is dedicated to precision CNC manufacturing with a dozen 3– and 4-axis CNC mills and 10 CNC lathes serving a diverse base of companies in the aerospace, defense, medical, and consumer goods industries. This CNC stream of business was initiated early in the previous decade by the former company president who had considerable expertise in CNC manufacturing along with good relationships with potential customers. Today, a wall runs through the center of CAR Engineering’s plant, with separate staff and equipment on either side, serving their own unique customers.

The upside of having two manufacturing disciplines under one roof is that the revenues frequently offset each other. When one side of the business is down, the other may be up. In addition, having a support staff divided between two businesses tends to reduce costs. The downside is that a finite budget for equipment and software must be divided between two robust businesses with entirely different needs. Each investment decision must be made with extra care so that both businesses can have the resources they need.

Late in 2011, when CNC Project Engineer Steve Gerrard asserted that his department needed to have an upgrade from their Level 1 Mastercam Mill Software to Mill Level 3 with Solids, Pagano weighed the request very carefully and agreed. That decision has proven to have a widespread incremental impact on what has turned out to be a record growth year for the company.

CAR Engineering purchased its seat of Mastercam Mill Level 1 software in 2005 because it was the only CAM software taught at the locally at Monroe Community College. It was also the brand of the CAM experience stated on nearly every application the company received for employment. If they were going to avoid a steep CAM software learning curve in the Rochester market, then it would be important to use the software nearly every applicant already knew.

The company installed Mastercam Mill Level 1 software in a computer room adjacent to the shop floor. It is in almost constant use by Dave Schutt, the primary CNC programmer, and several others who have received training and ongoing support from Optipro Systems, the nearby Mastercam Reseller.

Pagano explained, “By 2012, we had reached a threshold where we were having difficulty keeping pace with the programming for all of the work that was coming in. Plus, we had to turn down some complicated surface milling work, not because our equipment was deficient, but because we were unable to generate the programs with our Level I software. Steve was becoming frustrated, particularly since he had used the Mill Level 3 software in his previous job and was confident that it would improve our situation in many ways. He was right.”

One of the biggest improvements the company realized immediately was a reduction in the “No Quote” jobs it was returning to its customers. CAR has some very sophisticated high-tech customers who are reluctant to split families of parts between multiple suppliers. “If there are 60 parts in a family and we can’t quote a couple because the programming is too difficult, then we typically won’t get any of them. It’s a 60 or 0 proposition with the loss of one part resulting in the loss of many. We have significantly reduced the incidence of “No Quote” jobs in 2012.”

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in productivity because of all the different options that come with Mill Level 3,” says Pagano. “For example, we had been running one job for a big customer of ours using a program written in CAM software that we used before obtaining Mastercam. After purchasing Mill Level 3, we rewrote the program and because of all the enhancements that come with the upgrade, we were able to save 50 hours on the same job. Based on this time savings alone, the software has already paid for itself.”

The productivity gains for this job were due to the elimination of air cutting time compared to Mastercam, which uses a dynamic model of the part to ensure that the cutting tool is almost always in contact with it. The previous machining cycle for one part was 40 minutes. Rewriting in Mastercam with Solids brought the total time down to 22 minutes.

CAR Engineering routinely uses Mastercam’s simulation features, Backplot and Verify, to check clearances and material removal. For complex parts, they can now do an even more precise check by generating an STL file of the CAM file and comparing it directly to the CAD model. Color-coding of this comparison file reveals even minute discrepancies (e.g. a hole has been programmed for drilling but the reaming step was skipped.)

With this procedure in place, some of CAR’s customers have allowed the company to restrict physical first piece inspection of the part to critical features only. In one instance, this eliminated three hours from the inspection procedure in the QC lab, which frequently has queues of work lined up from both the stamping and CNC sides of the business. This CAM-based verification allowed the shop to get its part through the lab and into production sooner.

With Mastercam Mill Level 3 with Solids, all the programmers can have more powerful tools for defining manufacturing processes, specifying tooling, designing workholding solutions, and refining production programs to reduce cycle time. These aspects of the job are very closely defined early on instead of incrementally over a number of production runs.

When the job comes up again, and modifications need to be made to the program, these can be handled by less experienced programmers or set-up technicians. This has allowed CAR Engineering to consistently allocate time spent by its most talented CAM users to highest priority projects and opportunities for growth. On the stamping side of the business, quotes are calculated based on the amounts of material processed, because these can be very expensive.

On the machining side, quotes are all about time. Pagano said, “We are machining mostly aluminum and stainless steel. Material is not a big issue on this side of the business (unlike stamping). So profitability has to do with the labor and the time required to get the parts done. That’s where you are winning and losing. Mastercam Mill with Solids has definitely cut down our time to get a good part out of the machine and provides better tools for avoiding quality mistakes.”

“I am happy that Steve Gerrard was very assertive in advocating for this addition,” Pagano concluded. Of course, this makes her job as budget adjudicator a little more difficult since Gerrard is also advocating for the purchase of a 5-axis CNC machining center along with Mastercam 5-axis software. Based on the time savings, he may just have another winning argument.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tilt Away Collision Avoidance

Starting with Mastercam X8, you’ll see a new option in all of your High Speed Surface Finishing toolpaths. This is the easiest and fastest way to create a multiaxis toolpath without any complicated parameters. Waterline, Scallop, Horizontal Area, Raster, Pencil, Spiral, Radial, Hybrid and Project all have this feature displayed under the “Holder” section of the toolpath:


This setting will cause the toolpath to tilt the tool away if the shank of the tool or the holder is going to collide with the wall of the object. This makes it extremely easy to use the shortest tool possible to machine the part, giving you the best finish possible.


This is the easiest way to create a multiaxis toolpath, without having to create a separate toolpath.  This feature does require a multiaxis license and a fully 5-axis capable post and machine to use. If you’re not currently a Mastercam Multiaxis customer, contact your local Mastercam Reseller today for an evaluation!

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Billet Head Design Gets International Recognition



The mission of Monster Race Products, a motorsports startup company out of Wichita, KS, is to use advanced manufacturing processes to help racers, engine builders, and OEMs fulfill their visions of improved racing performance. It broke into this market in 2013 by introducing a radically different 4-cylinder motorcycle billet head design that will allow builders and porters to move beyond the horsepower limitations of current racing engines.

Mastercam’s Dynamic Motion technology allowed the company’s 5-axis machine to create a deeply sculptured head at high speed using a long tool without having to worry about interference or chatter. Owner Mitch Brown said, "Mastercam gives us the flexibility to integrate our manufacturing processes with advanced technology borrowed from the aerospace industry as our sales growth permits.”

The new billet head starts out as a solid 100 lb. block of aluminum. It is highly sculpted to leave only enough material to preserve the head’s structural integrity while reducing its weight to a mere 20 lbs. The prototype head generated 305 hp. The first production Pro Stock version made power equal to the best thus far by the OEM and third party cast heads that have been on the market for two or three decades.

Word travels fast and far in the motor-sports world—most of it via the Internet on Facebook. Photos of the new head design and posts about dyno results have attracted attention around the world. Within months of releasing the new head product, Monster Racing had delivered 20 heads to engine builders, racers, and racing teams in England, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, as well as the United States.

The company has also received numerous orders and requests for quotes for unique components ranging from Pro Mod race car engine oil pans to engine plates for a new offbeat bike design.

To read more Mastercam customer success stories please visit our website.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Final Reminder - IOF Deadline Approaching

Hurry if you want to be the next
 Innovator of the Future

!

Mastercam and Optimax, builders of the optics behind the latest technologies in aerospace,
 have teamed up to challenge students to design and machine an
optical component associated with the Mars Curiosity Rover.



Competition guidelines: entrant must be under 25 years and have access to Mastercam and a machine shop to cut their entry part.



Prizes for this competition include:
  • 
$1,000 plus a FREE seat of Mastercam Mill Level 1

  • Expenses-paid trip for the winner and a guest to the Kennedy Space Center.


For contest details and part specs please visit:
www.mastercam.com/IOF

  If you have any questions, please email us.

DEADLINE FOR ENTRY: 15 MAY 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Feature Friday


Our Mastercam Reseller in Upstate New York, OptiPro Systems, just started a fun new event called “Feature Friday.” They held their first one last week and it was a great success. Local customers came to their shop to learn about a specific Mastercam feature, this past one was Renishaw’s Productivity+ for in-process gauging. Attendees learned how this process gives them the ability to use a measuring probe on a machine tool to determine fixture offsets, orientation, and critical dimensions. Manual job setup and inspection are time consuming and error-prone and probing eliminates the need for tool presetters, expensive fixtures, and manual setting with dial indicators.


Not only did they get to watch a presentation on the functionality, but then they got to walk out to the shop to see it working on a machine, and lunch to boot.


Wishing OptiPro many more successful events. If you are in the Upstate New York area please be sure to contact them at www.optipro.com for more info.