Moto Proto Expands Business in Highly Specialized Industry

Since 2015, El Cajon, California-based Moto Engineering and Prototype (Moto Proto) has been serving high-performance automotive and motorsports customers with design work, machining prototypes, and in some cases, both. When working with prototypes, repeat jobs are rare if they exist at all. “With prototypes, every part is brand new and has a unique, intricate geometry,” said President Jason Miyamoto. “Our job is to produce it fast, and it’s got to be right.” Miyamoto delivers the goods by optimizing his design and manufacturing operation through investment in 3-axis and 4-axis milling machines and running them with powerful Mastercam for SOLIDWORKS® software.

“We can optimize the design of a prototype part to help minimize the cost of producing it come manufacturing time,” said Miyamoto. “Customers really appreciate that.”

Moto Proto manufactures everything from parts for desert race vehicles, to suspension components, to parts for track race car teams. Automotive “one-off” work is Moto Proto’s specialty. Miyamoto calls it, “Our niche in the San Diego area.”

According to Miyamoto, his company produces parts that are fairly small in size – 0.50” to 7”. Tolerances are tight, he said, but nothing tighter than a few 0.0001”. They also do a lot of traditional surfacing parts with tapered walls, with flat bottoms.

Moto Proto produces prototypes from drawings, solid models, or actual parts. Sometimes this can add extra time to a job. According to Miyamoto, 25 percent of their work is reverse engineering. “When we get an order from a customer who has a CAD drawing or a solid model, I’ll program it, then use the software’s Backplot feature to create a new model in the software.” The software allows him to not only design his own or import customers’ CAD drawings, but to reverse engineer existing parts using a 9-foot FaroArm for more accurate measurements when callipers or traditional measuring techniques are not enough. Everything is inputted directly into Mastercam and can be manipulated as needed on the screen.

“Mastercam is very intuitive and it does exactly what you ask it to do. You can set how high it pulls up out of the material, so you don’t waste too much time, rapiding up further than you need.” The software’s high speed Dynamic toolpaths shave valuable time off of the actual machining time by detecting (via proprietary algorithms programmed into the software) changes in the material and adjusting tool length and stepovers to accommodate them. By remaining constantly engaged with the material, the tool rarely leaves the material, ploughing through as fast as programmed.

“The time-savings from using Mastercam for high speed machining mill work is amazing,” Miyamoto said. “Just put in ‘percent of a tool width’ that you want to take a cut at, and let it go! It used to be that you’d have to stand at the machine and just watch it, to make sure it didn’t crash. Not now.” Miyamoto uses the Verify feature to make sure things are running okay, and, once he makes sure his Z’s are set correctly, he said, he walks away and starts another project.

Being a design engineer and having spent decades at the machines also give Moto Proto another competitive advantage.

Miyamoto said now that he has the right software and equipment in place, he takes on jobs that, years ago, he would have passed on. “When I can easily quote a job and move on, everybody benefits,” he said.

To learn more, you can read the entire article featured in CNC West magazine: Moto Proto’s High Performance is Standard.

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