API Technology Automates Woodworking Processes, Cuts Programming Time
Manufacturing a complex project with thousands of components seemed beyond this woodworker’s budget and production parameters. With the help of Mastercam API technology, repetitive parts were identified, which allowed streamlining and automation of the entire process.
- Product Used: Mastercam Router, Mastercam Mulitaxis, Mastercam API technology, C-Hooks
- Industry: Woodworking, architectural millwork, woodwork design
- The Challenge: Manufacturing a complex project with thousands of component parts.
- The Solution: Mastercam, the most widely used CAD/CAM software for machining applications.
- Mastercam APIs identify repetitive parts to streamline and automate processes.
- API technology reduces programming time.
- Multiaxis machining permits the cutting of complex miters and parts.
For more than 110 years, Fetzer Architectural Woodwork, Salt Lake City, UT, has melded precision engineering with craftsmanship to create stunning architectural millwork and woodwork design. Rooted in tradition, the woodworker is known for its in-house veneering, a process that sets the company apart from its competitors.
Fetzer’s niche is in the premium commercial, educational, and religious sectors of millwork. The jobs here are complex and massive in scope. A 120,000 square foot manufacturing facility is equipped with seven CNC machines and six seats of Mastercam CAD/CAM software, four of which are upgraded with 3D software and the Multiaxis Add-on.
“We chose Mastercam because it works really well with simple geometry as well as complicated 3D applications,” said David Musser, Senior Programmer, Fetzer Architectural Woodwork.
Because every wood species has different characteristics, programmers must consider the properties of a particular species and determine its response to manufacturing strategies. For a complicated project, a Fetzer programmer often uses a 5-axis CNC machining center and works closely with an operator to come up with a process to position parts and machine them in a way that is sustainable throughout the project.
“We work inside of Mastercam directly, producing the code that the machine then runs,” said Musser. “The software has a lot of built-in features for working with multiaxis machines. It allows us to cut those crazy miters and figure out the logistics of how thick, how wide, how to get an angle, and how to reproduce a part.”
Musser and his team rely on Mastercam’s application programming interface (API) technology to develop functions that meet specific job needs. A tool to help programmers create software, an API helps deliver solutions by allowing different software programs to communicate with each other.
“Two years ago, we had quite a large project made from bass wood that was meant to replicate a slot canyon look,” said Musser. “Thousands of parts had to be individually programmed. We were looking at the numbers—we just weren’t going to hit the deadline or the budget. It was going to be too big of a project.”
Fetzer programmers found a solution in Mastercam APIs. They were able to identify repetitive parts, which allowed them to streamline and automate the entire process. CNC Software, Inc. has a dedicated team responsible for development, support, and promotion of its software development kits (SDK). Mastercam add-ins are known as C-Hooks written in C++ and NET-Hooks written in .NET using C# or VB.NET. The SDK team assisted on several Fetzer projects, including input on SDK libraries to help to develop the woodworker’s own Mastercam add-ins. Once the CNC team identified Fetzer Architectural’s needs, it supplied code and project examples to the manufacturing team.
“Mastercam API technology allowed us to actually reduce the programming time to a fraction of what it would have been,” said Musser. “CNC programming time was reduced by 75 to 90 percent.”
“Mastercam API technology allowed us to actually reduce the time of programming to a fraction of what it would have been. CNC programming time was reduced by 75 to 90 percent.”– David Musser, Senior Programmer, Fetzer Architectural Woodwork, Salt Lake City, UT