Dale Sunderman’s shop classes at Oregon’s Stayton High School are so busy plasma cutting and welding unique projects they wish there were more hours in a school day. The well-outfitted shop at Stayton provides students with a full complement of machine tools, including a CNC plasma-cutting machine they built themselves that features a heavy-duty water table and Mach 3© controls. “To cap it off,” says Sunderman, “we have thirteen seats of Mastercam in our CAD/CAM lab for the hundred or so students I see every day.”

A unique relationship has been formed between Sunderman’s classes and the Stayton Police Department. Sunderman had the students in his class design and make a swing-away steel target that would allow the officers to practice handling a situation where the ‘bad guy’ was holding a ‘good guy’ in front of him as a hostage. We have courses where students can learn drawing using a dedicated CAD system, but I’ve always had them use Mastercam to do their drawing and then continue directly to the Mastercam tool path programming for the CAM portion because it gives them more practice in Mastercam, is simpler and the results are excellent.”

The students first designed the target and then scaled it to the appropriate size for the police shooting range. “We do all the geometry in Mastercam”, says Sunderman, “and save it as a DXF file for the CNC plasma cutter. Using a program called SheetCAM©, we enter all the parameters. We call out the kerf of the cut, how fast the plasma will cut through the plate, whether it’s cutting inside, outside, or right on the line, and so on. We have literally cut thousands and thousands of parts with plasma, ranging from Christmas tree ornaments to highly decorated steel fire pits and every single one has come off a Mastercam program.”