Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Corporate CAD/CAM Customization



Nick Dean, Senior Software Developer for Turbocam (Barrington, NH) said, “It is not the usual thing for a manufacturing company to come to a software vender and say ‘we really like your product and we want to take it apart and use the pieces to support our own manufacturing software.’” But that is what they did, and Mastercam was happy to oblige.

Turbocam, Inc. has been cutting sophisticated turbine and impeller blade geometries on multi-axis CNC mills for more than 25 years. Over the years, they developed many unique software modules to execute dozens upon dozens of specialized operations and toolpaths associated with this complex work. By 2007, Turbocam's software development reached a significant fork in the road. Its software infrastructure, based on a now unsupported CAM platform, script-based coding, and UNIX-based hardware and software, was becoming old and expensive to maintain.


"We were convinced that taking our proprietary software and transitioning it into a modern CAM programming environment was mission critical," said Rob Bujeaud, Vice President of Engineering. “We chose Mastercam as the back end for this major step forward because it is a solid and well-supported program that gives us the tools needed to get deep into the program and do whatever we want to do, exactly the way we want to do it. The primary thing for us was Mastercam's openness.”


Dean said, “Our Mastercam Reseller understood what we were looking to accomplish and jumped in to assist. They were instrumental in walking us through the SDK (Software Development Kit). When they couldn't answer our question directly, they would find an expert at Corporate Mastercam who would. For really specialized applications, Mastercam and our Reseller even went as far as pointing out hidden functionality in the software that we wouldn’t have known about.”



Rebuilding a proprietary software infrastructure was not a trivial project. It would involve the porting of a myriad of scripts and algorithms that had been created over two decades on an as needed basis by various Turbocam engineers into a modern software development system, C++. These modules would then be organized into a coherent CAM software framework. Turbocam contracted two full-time software engineers to work on the project and it took them two years to deliver the final product in 2009.

Today, Turbocam has nearly 30 seats of Mastercam X6 (Multiaxis, Mill, Lathe, and Design) software. This software is used by more than 20 programmers who support approximately 150 CNC machining centers— mostly 5-axis—in the United States, United Kingdom, Romania, and India.