Back to Basics: The Wirepaths of Mastercam

This article briefly explains Mastercam Wire’s five main wirepaths. For more information, please visit

You use canned wirepaths to select points and send them to the post processor with custom cycles and/or custom parameters. A canned cycle is an area in the post where you can assign special commands, cycles, or parameters to points or entities. Mastercam provides customizable canned parameters that you can set for your work.

Contour wirepaths have the same general shape in both the XY plane (the lower contour) and the UV plane (the upper contour). Contour wirepaths can taper inward or outward, and you can specify the location of the land (the point at which the taper begins). You can further modify the shape of the contour wirepath by specifying how Mastercam handles sharp and smooth corners. A contour wirepath can also be based on an open boundary and used for cutting off or trimming a part.

4-axis wirepaths have geometry in both the XY plane and UV plane. Where a contour wirepath derives a second contour from the geometry, a 4-axis wirepath can have completely different geometry in the two planes, resulting in different wire movement in the XY and UV planes.

No-core wirepaths remove material without producing a slug. The wirepath typically starts at a pre-drilled hole in the material and zigzags or spirals outward until it has removed all material within the chained geometry. Mastercam Wire requires closed chains for no-core wirepaths. A roughing pass is the portion of the no-core wirepath that removes most of the material. A finish pass smooths rough edges left by the no-core roughing pass.

Point wirepaths create rapid moves that you can use to avoid a clamp or fixture on the wire EDM machine. A rapid move is a non-cutting move made at the machine’s top speed and at a specified height so that the wire guides avoid the clamp or fixture. Point wirepaths are associative and can be edited by clicking on the geometry icon.

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