Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0: Mastercam’s 5-Part Vision
Mastercam is an integral slice of the reality of Smart Manufacturing. It is one of many fibers giving strength to the digital thread that is Industry 4.0. The following, courtesy of Strategic Market Analyst Ben Mund, are five areas in which Mastercam’s vison is on the future of connectivity as it benefits the manufacturing community
Mastercam is addressing the emerging shift in the market by acknowledging the rapidly evolving Industry 4.0 concept and the fact that it’s here to stay. From the software and hardware developers, the people on the shop floors and those who educate the market, are all working together to define that concept and to bring together the pieces for a clearer view of the future.
Where does Mastercam fit into this idea? Connectivity. It’s about how many places Mastercam’s software can touch to ensure that information can be brought in and to use that information the best way possible for an output that has value to the customer. And when it does, can that information be used in other areas of their shop?
That’s what Mastercam’s CAD/CAM platform does. It powers the machine tool but that is obviously just a portion of what a shop needs to do. It’s really a software to help the shop to coordinate a variety of things including metrology, robotics, and digital tool management. All these pieces roll up into the connectivity that is intended by Industry 4.0.
2. Tools & Technology
The main drive is to do it faster, do it more efficiently, and do it with less wear and tear on the machine and tools. Mastercam has had several pieces of technology introduced in the last few years that assist with this need. The most game changing has been the Dynamic Motion technology which is a much smarter toolpath where the angle of the tool engagement and the other factors adapt to keep a more consistent chip load on the tool and more flute length can be used.
The result is a faster machine time where roughing for 2D parts, for example, the cutting time can be cut by 75 percent. Since one goal is to take deeper, lighter, managed cuts, it’s safer and much easier on the tools. The Mastercam Manufacturing Lab uses the Dynamic Motion technology almost exclusively in 2D cutting and 3D roughing, rather than conventional cutting in their own shop.
Another exciting advancement is a technique known as Accelerated Finishing which is intended to give better finishes on certain complex surfaces in a much shorter time by maximizing benefits of emerging classes of new shaped tools. Mastercam is working closely with tool manufacturers in developing toolpath motion that takes the most advantage of what can be done with these shapes.
3. The Importance of Feedback
Mastercam in in a fortunate position to be the most widely used CAM software in the world, and with this user base, customers provide feedback of products used in their shops. With a very active beta program, CNC receives feedback not only about functionality of the software but the really hardcore Mastercam users provide feedback of what they see on the horizon from a shop floor level—things Mastercam needs to be aware of and things that need addressing for the future.
On the other side, Mastercam has many partnerships with hardware manufacturers as well as with industry-leading, complementary software utilities in the industry, so that all the pieces can work together. With the user in mind, tools are provided for those who might not have been aware they exist in the industry or to get ahead of the questions shops may have.
The Mastercam Manufacturing Lab helps verify this feedback by replicating real-world shop conditions. The cycle machine types and brands in and out of the lab and tackle a variety of jobs from common to experimental. That’s Mastercam’s test bed. It’s the crucible where toolpaths and CAD ideas are forged—inside the shop. Mastercam applications engineers run the software through a series of practical experiences, and because they are consistently rotating these machines in and out of the shop, they make sure the practical application is spot on for what end users will need.
To be clear, the focus is not only on new machines. It is crucial that testing is done on a variety of common machines, because not all shops have the newest high-end machines available to them. Mastercam works to ensure that the benefits of what is put into the software is as universal as possible.
4. Education and Workforce
If you look at the trend of the way things are going, the manufacturing jobs aren’t going away, they’re just changing. Shops are requiring employees to be more tech savvy and the technology is requiring individuals to have more sophisticated training.
As the population ages and more workers in the manufacturing sector retire, many job openings will go unfilled due to the lack of highly skilled applicants. This presents not only a workforce issue but a skills gap issue.
CNC Software’s entire company history has been committed to manufacturing education. A very broad and deep program has been in place at schools to get kids excited about manufacturing because it’s crucial to the future of Smart Manufacturing. CNC representatives have a hands-on approach working with educators not only in vocational schools but also in the community colleges and universities to give them the tools to prepare people who are interested in getting out into the workforce. These are high paying jobs that are available to those who are willing to put the time into learning the sophisticated skills necessary in what is a fantastic industry.
5. The Outlook
It’s a great time to be in manufacturing! The future looks bright with the technological advances in manufacturing with the onset of Smart Manufacturing and the concept of Industry 4.0. Mastercam is addressing the evolution by making as many connections as possible and by making use of available data, both input and output.
It’s essentially a digital thread, from start to finish, from the concept to the output. There is not one company or manufacturer that encompasses all of what Industry 4.0 is. It’s all little slices that need to be connected to each other to make it all effective in the shop. Mastercam is one of those slices, with a focus on the benefit to the manufacturing community.