CAD/CAM Software Is Key to Industrial Support
Robbie Fowler, President of Hi-Tech Machining Company in Spartanburg, South Carolina, says his company’s focus is “industrial support”. Hi-Tech takes on some of the most unique, highly specialized projects in the manufacturing industry. Clients rely on the advanced shop for designing, machining, and repairing custom parts and molds.
The first step in manufacturing any of their products is creating a program from the customer-provided model. Unfortunately, it is common for the customer not to have a model at all. The programming team at Hi-Tech, in turn, uses Mastercam to draw a new model. “The software is a huge part of our first few steps,” said Fowler, “With its 3D pictures, we didn’t realize it was as good as it was, or we’d have started using it much earlier.”
Mastercam Reseller Barefoot CNC is there to help with every step of the process and to show how the powerful software can help in situations such as this. One of the features that Barefoot President Jimmy Wakeford introduced to the Hi-Tech team is Solids. Previously, models were imported as surfaces, and the team had little ability to control it. “Now we can push, pull, manipulate – everything,” said Fowler.
Fowler and his team also use Model Prep for creating realistic models. Model Prep allows advanced manipulation of solid models. Any part of the model can be deleted, suppressed, stretched, or aligned to a plane. “We use it several different ways,” said Fowler, “A lot of times you bring just your blank material in and see how it machines it. And then if you’re concerned with over-machining it or removing material that you shouldn’t, we’ll just call the model stock and see what kind of discrepancy we get between the two.”
After the part is modeled completed and the code is written, the Hi-Tech programming team uses Backplot and Verify in the Mastercam Simulator to simulate the machining process. The Simulator checks for problems and allows programmers to make adjustments immediately.
Caleb Knight, the newest programmer at Hi-Tech, said, “It’ll show you exactly where the stock is sitting at in the vice. If you made some kind of a mistake, it tells you exactly what it is.”
Finally, the part is ready to be made. During machining, Dynamic Motion Technology becomes invaluable. The technology allows machines to run at much higher rates than would normally be safe. “We push them pretty much to the top of the limit with Dynamic. It took a while for us to trust what it was doing, but once we did it was great,” said Fowler.
The secret lies in how Dynamic toolpaths pair constant monitoring of the material with advanced proprietary algorithms. Air cuts and tool collisions are virtually eliminated as the software counters for changes in the material just as quickly as they occur.
As Hi-Tech continues to explore the capabilities of Mastercam software with the help of Barefoot CNC, its own abilities grow. Hi-Tech’s client base and workload are expanding quickly, and the only limiting factor for the company right now is space. Fowler plans to acquire additional shop space this year, at which point nothing will be able to slow Hi-Tech’s growth.
To learn more about Hi-Tech Machining, you can read an article about the company titled, Pushing the Limits, in Manufacturing News.