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Scalable CAM Technology Helping Small Shops Grow

How small shops can use advanced CAM software features to achieve steady incremental growth

Part 1: Introduction 

Small manufacturing job shops serving the aerospace, medical device, energy and other industries are finding they can compete effectively with manufacturing operations many times their size by purchasing high-value CNC manufacturing equipment and using advanced CAM software to manage a variety of technologies that reduce costs and provide for shorter lead times. 

This series explores some of the strategies these small shops are employing to stay competitive with shops much larger in size.
If you are starting a small machine shop, you may want some advice on what to do. Some of the best advice we have heard includes the following – buy a quality CNC mill and (if the business is there) a lathe. Pair this equipment with an appropriate level of scalable CAM software for programming it.

During the first six months to a year, do as much of the work you can yourself because you will almost always be your most profitable employee. As work volume permits, incrementally employ people and more technology to give you the best prospects for productivity, profitability, and growth while you devote time saved to finding more customers.

Beyond that, there are a number of good CAM-centric moves a startup can make based on the owners' aspirations, skill sets, and opportunities. Whichever ones they choose, they should all serve to:

  • Improve personal productivity
  • Trim excessive costs
  • Reduce lead times

Startup shops that consistently fulfill these imperatives are likely to survive and then thrive. The remaining posts in this blog series will go into specific details. Look for part two of this ongoing blog series next week.

Introducing Mastercam Two-Minute Tuesday

Welcome to the first Mastercam Two Minute Tuesday! Each week we’ll bring you a tip, trick or technique in two minutes or less. We’ll cover topics ranging from the easiest way to customize your interface to how to make the most of specific settings in various toolpaths. We’d like to extend a special thanks to our Two-Minute Tuesday partner CIMQuest, Inc., the New Jersey-based Mastercam reseller who will be presenting the tips to you.

We’ll kick things off with a quick tip from the front-end of the manufacturing process: CAD. Specifically, we’ll look at using the “Live Preview” tool in solids. Enjoy!


CAD/CAM Helps Aerospace Shop Machine Aluminum Guitars
CAD/CAM Helps Aerospace Shop Machine Aluminum Guitars

Using CAD/CAM software from Matercam/CNC Software Inc. helped Wolfert’s Tool and Machine Co. develop and produce a single-billet aluminum guitar body. Read more about it in this article from Modern Machine Shop.

Mastercam X9 Public Beta 2 is Ready to Go!

Our next Public Beta is available for download. After a rigorous round of feedback with users across the globe, we’ve made adjustments, fixed issues, and noted items for future work. If you’re a maintained Mastercam user, now’s a perfect time to get an early look at what’s coming next!

Join the Beta

Second Public Beta Now Available

You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened!

We’re preparing to release our second Public Beta, which includes additional refinements and addresses issues that we’ve gotten directly from your feedback. Watch this space – we’ll be releasing the next Beta shortly.

In the meantime we’re continuing our weekly early look at some highlights. 

Today we’ll look at two items which can help dramatically improve your mill programming.

  • Universal radial chip thinning. Mastercam X9 delivers radial chip thinning for a variety of milling toolpaths. This helps you program efficient feeds and speeds while maintaining targeted chip thickness. More efficient milling and better use of your tools.
  • More powerful Dynamic Motion. We continue to broaden our successful Dynamic Motion technology. This includes optional conventional cut feed rates for zigzag motion, letting your climb and conventional cuts run at separate feed rates for finer control of machine dynamics in certain materials. If you haven’t started using Mastercam’s Dynamic Motion toolpaths, now’s a perfect time to start!

That’s just a quick look at two powerful elements in X9. To experience the full suite for yourself, join in our Public Beta. 

Innovator of the Future Heads to Kennedy Space Center

Hear about our recent Innovator of the Future's experience at Kennedy Space Center, and how he landed the top spot in this competition.

HaasTec 2015 is less than one week away!

Next week, from March 17 – 20, 2015 from 8AM – 5PM each day, come to the Haas Automation corporate facility in Oxnard, CA, to see the latest in American made Haas CNC technology on display! With 20 machines operating and guided tours of their 1 million sq. ft. facility, you won’t want to miss it. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peak of Mastercam X9 and see the latest the industry has to offer for tooling, probing, and more. 

Make sure to register to attend at We’ll see you next week!

Mastercam X9 Preview 2 – Mastercam Mill-Turn

The Mastercam X9 Public Beta is going strong! If you’re a current Mastercam user and you haven’t checked out the Beta, we encourage you to take a look. If you’re curious about what’s in our latest release, we’re continuing our weekly early look at some highlights.

This week we’ll take a look at a growing trend in shops: multitasking machines and what’s new in Mastercam Mill-Turn.

Enhanced Collision Detection for Mill-Turn MachinesMastercam Mill-Turn X9 expands the elements that can be collision checked and opens them up for easier user selection and definition.
Chuck Jaw Movement Distance Control – Chuck components can now have maximum travel and default clearance, delivering more precise simulation.
Multiple Pull Part Tracking – Set a pickoff behind the source chuck for multiple pulls to advance the workpeice before pickoff/ cutoff operations. We’ve also included the ability to use the main spindle for part pulls.
Easily Output Your Sync Data – All your sync data is now available in tool table processing for easy external access.
New machine support  – We are continually adding new machines and machine combinations to our roster. 

That’s just a quick look at a few of the Mill-Turn enhancements in X9. To experience the full suite for yourself, join in our Public Beta! 

Are you using Mastercam's Dynamic Motion technology?

How many times have you seen the Dynamic Motion logo in the Mastercam toolpath menus? Have you taken the time to try them yet? If not, you should see one of our customers (Accede Mold) tell the story about their first experience using these tool paths. It's worth a watch.


For more information on Mastercam's Dynamic Motion technology please visit

Mastercam X9 Preview 1 – Design and Model Prep

Thursday we announced the launch of the Mastercam X9 Public Beta. For those of you who haven’t taken X9 for a test drive (and you should!) we’ll be using the next several weeks to spotlight some of the things you’ll see in this latest release.

We’re starting off where a lot of shops begin: CAD designs. Below are just a few of the improvements you’ll see in Mastercam X9. Some are subtle, but all are useful. 

Solid Disassembly - Now Mastercam can reorient and lay out all the bodies in an assembly on a single plane, ready for you to choose which you want to program. It works on models with and without history, imported from other systems, or created from within Mastercam. 

Solid Position – Pick a face of a solid body and mate it to a face of another solid body with a click. The function allows you to redefine the base position of the body being moved, then also redefine the final position on the body it is moved to. You can move or copy your solid while positioning.

Model Prep Toolpath Associativity – Solids / toolpaths associativity fills a popular request -  now when bodies are edited, only the toolpaths directly affected by the change in the solid body are marked dirty.

Bounding Box (Push/Pull Technology) – The newest interaction of the bounding box function in X9 takes advantage of our push/pull technology. This gives users hands-on access to adjust the size of the bounding box by pushing and pulling on one face at a time, which creates new named planes with options for origin location. You can also make incremental changes to the box or to control the actual overall size depending on their need at the time.

Dynamic Xform – Now you can switch between gnomon manipulation and geometry manipulation mode at any time. Being able to use your original geometry selection to switch back and forth speeds up your Xform workflow.

Temporary Midpoints –Mastercam can now draw temporary points at AutoCursor positions to define a vector and the midpoint of that vector. These temporary positions remain as long as the same function is active until it is used or replaced by other positions.

Preview for Xform Solids – When Xforming solids, you’ll now see the outlined edges of the entire solid rather than simply the bounding box. This method is more efficient, faster, and supports all entity types, including polygon meshes.

That’s just a quick look at a few of the CAD enhancements in X9. To experience the full suite for yourself, join in our Public Beta