OCTOPUZ® Can Be Manufacturers’ Bridge to the Robotics World

Together with Mastercam, industrial manufacturers have a clear path to competitive advantage

As manufacturing companies worldwide increase their use of robots to improve quality and efficiencies, they also seek ways to get the most out of robotic automation. One solution fast-becoming their “go-to” is OCTOPUZ, a software that combines offline robot programming with manufacturing process simulation, delivering dramatic time-saving and cost-saving results.

OCTOPUZ was introduced in 2013 by the robotics division of In-House Solutions, Canada’s leading technology solutions provider for CNC programming and machining. After a few years of booming sales in Canada and the United States, In-House Solutions established OCTOPUZ, Inc., as a separate business (and retained ownership).

Today, OCTOPUZ, Inc., operates from headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, with 35 employees and growing. The company serves a broad industrial robot market in North America, partners with a variety of robot integrators, and has a global Reseller network operating internationally.

From the beginning, OCTOPUZ has been tightly integrated with Mastercam as a solid interface. In fact, OCTOPUZ software was developed with Mastercam in mind. Meanwhile, OCTOPUZ, Inc., expands the business partnership that In-House Solutions has had as the exclusive Mastercam Reseller in Canada for more than 30 years.

Octupuz simulation in Mastercam

“The ability to package Mastercam with OCTOPUZ as a full solution has been key to our growth,” said Robert House, Co-CEO of OCTOPUZ, Inc. “As the industry leader in CAM software, Mastercam is a fantastic solution itself, and that really helps us support complex toolpath applications. We can use the benefits of what Mastercam has been developing for over 35 years – leveraging some of that expertise – and bring that to the robotics world.”

So, what happens when you combine these two leading software products in a real-world industrial setting that includes robots? Quite simply, productivity goes up and costs go down.

Much of the benefit of implementing OCTOPUZ comes from the ability to program offline. Traditionally, robots are programmed using a “teach pendant” (a proprietary tablet connected to the robot) in which the programmer takes the robot out of production, manually jogging the robot from point to point in order to complete a path.

With OCTOPUZ, robot programming can be taken away from the robot running the job, allowing teaching to take place offline on a computer. Being able to program a new job while the current job is in production means there’s little-to-no downtime.

“Programming complex toolpaths – especially for applications such as welding, spraying, and trimming – can be cumbersome and time consuming,” House said, “and, therefore, very expensive. These applications are where the value of OCTOPUZ can be most realized.”

Octupuz simulation in Mastercam from another angle

De-risking prototyping – adding assurance and verification – is another important benefit. Using the OCTOPUZ software platform to complete reach studies ensures that all aspects of that part can be reached before starting the job. OCTOPUZ not only enables visualization and simulation of complex robot operations, but automatically supplies the needed response.

“OCTOPUZ can be especially valuable to manufacturers of complex parts and prototypes,” House said, “We’ve worked with a lot of companies that do small-volume parts that require extensive programming,” House said. “These are not instances where you’re running the same job for six or seven years, like you might see in the automotive industry,” he said, “but more so in fabrication shops or aerospace applications where welding, spraying, and finishing are indicated or required.”

The software’s latest release introduced a suite of tools called PathFinder which includes PathAnalyzer that goes through the robot program and checks for potential robot errors like collision, singularities, reach limits, and joint limits; and PathSolver, which automatically solves the path to correct for found errors. Once all errors are solved, OCTOPUZ generates code which can be loaded directly onto the real-life robot.

When used with Mastercam, there is seamless transition from one software to the other, accomplished with a simple button click. The outcome is improved manufacturing cycle time and an environment where robots perform applications faster than humans ever could.

Allowing users to easily program complex robot applications without having to shut down production and without necessarily being an expert on the robot also helps in real-world settings where robot engineers and experts are difficult to find and keep, and, House noted, are not always available.

Octupuz robotics simulation

House cited some examples of OCTOPUZ implementation: an additive step of robotic dispensing (e.g. glue) for vehicle interiors in the automotive industry, removal applications such as the robotic trimming of thermoform parts in the fabrication industry, and the robotic trimming of large water tanks for a customer in the pool industry.

OCTOPUZ can program, simulate, and generate code for multiple robots, simultaneously. It is flexible and customizable, can program in any language, and supports most robot brands in any configuration.

“Offline programming is a market that we think is in its infancy,” House said. “For companies considering adding robots and automation to their manufacturing processes in the future, OCTOPUZ will be invaluable to its robot programmers.”