Mastercam Medical Success Story

“We just got a print in of a prototype a couple of days ago. Years ago we’d look at the print and think it was a nightmare, like a 5th grader looking at Mozart sheet music. But now you look at it and say, ‘I think I’ll start on this end’. You kind of dive into it. We know we can generate the toolpaths to machine it.”
Those were the words Lou Dertouzos used to describe what the transition from traditional aerospace to advanced medical parts manufacturing was like for him. Lou spent most of his career (about 30 years) in aerospace manufacturing and even had his own shop. Five years ago he was lured away by a major medical device manufacturer in Indiana. For the past year he has been engineering manager for Innovative Medical (Fort Myers, FL), a start-up machine shop specializing in the manufacture of surgical tools and implants.
He explained that designers of aerospace parts, at least in the past, generally designed within the constraints of typical high-performance CNC machining capabilities. Medical device designers don’t seem to look at it that way. They don’t perceive any limits. Whatever material and geometry combinations they can create in CAD, and prove out with finite element analysis, is what they expect their suppliers to produce and deliver on time.
Innovative Medical, now in its second year, was conceived specifically to take on that sort of challenge. The owners, Youngquist Brothers Inc., spared no expense in equipping this brand new, 21,000-square foot plant with 20 CNC machines, including Willimen-Macodel mill-turn systems and Citizen Swiss turning machines. Advanced Mycrona multi-sensor CMMs verify that parts have been manufactured to spec. As for delivering on time, the owners equipped the plant with its own generator and an uninterruptible power supply to make sure that there would be absolutely no excuses. To run the plant, Youngquist Brothers recruited experienced medical manufacturing professionals from all over the country, which is where Dertouzos came in.
Dertouzos, who is responsible for programming the Willimens, found himself with more work than he could handle with the company’s existing CAM system.
He convinced management to purchase two seats of Mastercam, a CAM program he had been using since the mid ‘80s. Soon he was keeping the company’s 15 Willimens entirely busy and discharging his other responsibilities as engineering manager. Dertouzos’ most recent experience had been with Mastercam Version 9. Innovative Medical purchased two seats of Mastercam X2. “It was a big leap as far as the software goes,” he said.
“Because of the workload, I was not able to get any formal training. I couldn’t have anyone come in to show me; I had to figure it out on my own. Within the first day, I was already putting toolpaths on the parts, and soon I could create toolpaths so complex you’d be amazed that the machine could even keep up with it.”

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