Long-Lasting Partnerships Create Success

Since 1998, MCAM Northwest has been a trusted authority in the manufacturing industry, working closely with engineers, designers and machinists to provide digital solutions that increase productivity and reduce waste. With machining and manufacturing experience dating back to 1977, founder Tim Rowley has been involved with Mastercam sales, support, and training since 1988.

Since 2004, Rowley has worked with Form Factory founder Brian Ross to help him optimize his machining and prototyping operation in Portland, Oregon, to meet customer demands. When Ross started, he bought a brand new, built-to-order Haas and a seat of Mastercam.

Today, operations have expanded at Form Factory, and Rowley and his team continue to provide technical support for seats of Mastercam Mill, Multiaxis, and Design. The software perfectly complements the high-precision prototyping Ross does. “He’s looking for surface finishes that are way beyond what most shops that do prototyping are doing. He’s always pushing the boundaries,” said Rowley.

Powerful CAD/CAM software sets Ross up for success before the first cut. Features like Verify and Backplot simulate the machining process, highlighting any potential collisions and checking the quality of toolpath motion. The Compare function within the software’s Simulator tool uses an intuitive, color-coded interface to allow users to easily compare verification results with the model.

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“I have been working with Tim Rowley and MCAM Northwest since 1992. Boy have things changed since then! Tim has been way ahead of the curve the entire time. He is a pioneer and constant source of inspiration when it comes to adopting new technology as it becomes available. Any time I have had a question, he has the right answer before I am even finished asking! Tim is a real Mastercam guru. Everybody at MCAM Northwest is great to work with. Whether you just show up in person, call them on the phone, or participate in one of their helpful webinars, they make finding help easy. When it comes to great software and service, look no further,” shared Ross.

The vast majority—80 to 95 percent—of Form Factory’s jobs involve machining one to five copies of a prototype. Attention to detail is vital in these situations; tolerances are often within one thousandth of an inch. Every aspect of prototyping calls for extreme accuracy, and Ross has organized his own collection of resources to enable it.

“We pride ourselves on always being on time and always having happy customers, but sometime that comes at the cost of making a part for the third time or working excessive overtime or even pulling an occasional all-nighter,” said Ross.

Harvey Performance Company and its Harvey Tool and Helical Solutions brands provide specialty carbide end mills and cutting tools that allow Ross to turn his products into art. “To me, machining is sculpture,” he explained. “I’ve always tried to make parts that look like they grew that way. I’ve learned to use Harvey’s special little cutters to de-burr what you can on the machine instead of doing that by hand, so that it comes off completely finished.”

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To take full advantage of Harvey’s unique cutting tools, Ross uses Dynamic Motion technology, or Dynamic Milling. Dynamic toolpaths follow a sophisticated proprietary algorithm that constantly monitors the material as it is being cut. As the machine is working, Dynamic toolpaths detect any changes in material and calculate the changes in feed, speed, stepover, or cutting motion necessary to keep machining safely. The results are reduced cycle times, fewer air cuts, and longer lasting tools.

Ross also prefers tapered end mills and long-reach tools that help him rough out what he calls “impossible reaches”— those tight pockets that are extremely difficult to get to with typical end mill lengths. He prefers larger diameter tools and those designed specifically for aluminum applications. Harvey Performance Company’s tool libraries are available from the Mastercam Tech Exchange, providing Ross with end mill choices with just a few clicks of a mouse. This saves considerable time when selecting tools for a particular job.