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Scalable CAM Technology Helps Small Shops Grow

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

Part 3: Make the right opening moves

Growing a manufacturing shop is very much like playing chess or some other complex board game. There are a great many pieces that can be brought into play depending on the situation the shop finds itself in. How efficiently the owners make these moves will determine how successful the shop will be from that point forward. The ability to make the appropriate moves to grow a small manufacturing business depends to a large degree on the robustness of the CAM software that will become integral to the shop’s CNC manufacturing workflow.

This is why the owners should avoid getting boxed in with simplistic CAM software that presents well but does not allow them to go deep with more advanced capabilities as the company grows. Simpler CAM software costs less early on. But as the shop’s requirements multiply, it will eventually have to double back and invest in a more comprehensive solution and, even worse, spend already scarce time learning how to use it.

A better alternative for startups is to choose a scalable CAM package that allows users to purchase at various levels and upgrade as needed so that the business can keep moving forward.

With scalable CAM software in place, here are two important game pieces small shop owners have employed to move their start-up businesses into a stronger position:

Customized posts: Getting your CNC to behave exactly as you would expect based on the code output generated by your CAM software. This allows for higher operating efficiencies as additional CNC equipment is installed because each machine will behave consistently as expected. The customized post will also ensure that code is presented in the same format if some editing is to be done on the machine.

Robust computers and infrastructure: Powerful computers with fast processors and sufficient RAM make programming faster. Networks give multiple users quick access to common files so that CNC programming solutions are easy to share and post at the machine.

Join us at PMTS in Columbus!

If you’re in the Columbus, OH area from April 21 – 23, be sure to make your way over to the Greater Columbus Convention Center for the Precision Machining Technology Show. PMTS is the only show in North America dedicated to the Precision Machining Industry. Join the over 5,000 manufacturing professionals who are moving the industry forward. 

In the Mastercam booth (#437), we’ll be showcasing the upcoming X9 release, as well as Mastercam Swiss and Mill-Turn. We hope to see you there!

You can register for the show at the PMTS website. If you’re interested in seeing what’s new in Mastercam X9, make sure to visit 

Hyundai-Wia Open House

Get your box seats, program, hot dogs and refreshments at Hyundai-Wia’s first annual "Showcase 20" Open House event.

On April 21-23, join us at the Hyundai Wia Grandstand, their 22,000 square foot facility located at 265 Spring Lake Drive, Itasca, IL 60143. They will be showcasing over 20 CNC machines, of which eight are new. They'll will also have demos, dining and drinks! It is sure to be a Grand Slam event that you will not want to miss!

Click here to register. 

Two-Minute Tuesday - April 14, 2015

Check out today's video with tips and techniques for using Mastercam for SOLIDWORKS!


X9 Preview: How to Learn More

Mastercam X9 Preview – Want to Learn More?

This week we’re taking a break from showcasing new items in Mastercam X9. Instead, we’ll answer a question we often hear when previewing new Mastercam features. Namely: how can I learn more?

There are several ways to get news about the latest from Mastercam:

  • This blog. We post new items three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Much of the material focuses on Mastercam functionality.
  • Our monthly eNews. Once a month we e-mail out quick-hit topics from the Mastercam newsroom. It’s a great way to keep an eye on what’s happening. You can sign up here
  • The official Mastercam forum. If you’re on maintenance you can join our forum and talk directly with CNC Software employees and other Mastercam users. You’ll get tips and tricks, discussions of upcoming releases, and answers to questions.
  • Your Mastercam reseller. Many resellers host events or e-mail newsletters to keep their customers up to speed. Contact your Mastercam reseller and ask what they have to offer. 
  • Try it! And, as always, the best way to see what’s new is to take the software for a test drive. If you’re a maintained user you can join our Public Beta program and download X9 right now!

Scalable CAM Technology Helping Small Shops Grow - Part Two

Scalable CAM Technology Helping Small Shops Grow

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

Part 2: Basic strategy—one good part deserves another
With increasing frequency today, small startup shops are adopting advanced CAM-centric approaches to manufacturing out of necessity to compensate for the limited funds available for investment in capital equipment and employees. Ironically, this approach often results in a surprising advantage when sales growth allows the shop to move into an expansion phase.

The shop may decide to grow by incrementally adding help, increasing shifts, implementing a new workholding solution, or another CNC machine. Whatever the case, the best practices already in place to support advanced manufacturing technologies are readily scalable so the transition is likely to go smoothly and quickly.

Most new job shops start out with limited resources. Typically one or two people buy a mill and perhaps a lathe and start taking on work, usually from people who are already acquainted with them. Initial jobs are followed by others, if the shop meets three simple requirements:

  • Quality: Make a part that meets the spec. No exceptions allowed, at least not for a start-up.
  • Price: Come in at or, better still, below the competition.
  • Delivery: Meet your customers’ delivery expectations — often responding with very short lead times.

Quality will allow the owners to keep their new customer. Price will keep them near the top of his list as new projects are considered. Fast deliveries will differentiate them and grow their business faster than others. More work will come sooner. After awhile, other factors impacting the small shop's growth potential will come into play.

  • Volume: Consistently meeting Quality/Price/Delivery expectations as the queue of work being processed through the shop becomes larger and larger.
  • Complexity: Responding to requests for making parts with more complex geometries and surfaces or making fast-turn, short-run families of parts.
  • Value-Added: Taking on more secondary operations, making sub-assemblies, or providing design for manufacturing guidance to help make parts perform better or cost less.

Startup shops that arrive at this phase of development have really begun to solidify their standing with their customers, transforming the relationship into more of a manufacturing partnership than a simple vendor/customer relationship.

X9 Beta: Rethinking Repositioning
Note: Our latest beta is ready to go! If you’re a maintained user and want to check out X9, please join the thousands of shops worldwide who are taking X9 for a test drive. 

Rethinking repositioning

In today’s X9 preview we take a look at a crucial element of complex machining that is not intended to remove material - repositioning between cuts. Fast and safe repositioning helps you make the most of your multiaxis equipment by eliminating unneeded motion.

Mastercam X9’s new Multiaxis Link option ensures reposition moves between 2-5 axis operations are safe and collision-free. Select a list of operations and a safety zone shape (defined either manually or automatically), and Mastercam X9 creates safe transition moves based on those choices. A clear preview helps you in your safety zone definition.

You can quickly select an axis of rotation and output the reposition moves at your rapid feed rate or any other preferred feed rate. Operation repositioning is safer and more efficient than ever before.

Third Public Beta Now Open

Our third Public Beta is available for download. We’ve spent time listening to feedback from around the world, making adjustments, refinements, and noting 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! Download Now

Mastercam Two-Minute Tuesday

Importing Your Custom Right-Mouse Button Menus

Welcome back to Mastercam Two Minute Tuesday! Each week we bring you a tip, trick or technique in two minutes or less.

Today we have a useful tip for anyone wanting to bring their custom right-mouse click menus over from a previous version. This video steps you through bringing them in from X7 to X8 – but keep it in mind as you look toward the upcoming X9!

X9 Preview: Toolpath Info


First we’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming response and participation in our Public Beta. Every piece of feedback we get is valuable!

Today we’ll continue our Mastercam X9 preview with a subtle but useful tool – the ability to quickly get specific information out of any element of your toolpath. The new Analyze Toolpath tool lets you hover over any portion of the cutter path and get a quick popup of vital statistics.

If you’re a current Mastercam user and want to see Mastercam X9 for yourself, join in our Public Beta.