Take Your Manufacturing Business to the Next Level – Commit to Post and Go
Take Your Manufacturing Business to the Next Level is a five-part blog series:
- Introduction and Opening Moves
- Commit to Post and Go
- Ingrain Technology
- Use Training as a Tool
- Press Your Advantages and Conclusion
Part Two: Commit to Post and Go
Competitive manufacturing businesses understand that standardization of manufacturing processes is necessary if everyone in the shop is working as a team to find ways to improve productivity and reduce manufacturing costs. One of the most important of these standardizations is with post processors that enable the machine tool to run the manufacturing program generated in Mastercam exactly as it was written, without any additional modifications of the G-code at the machine.
Refine your posts.
About 40-60% of the problems related to machines not doing exactly what the programmer has intended can be traced to post-processor issues. For most CNC equipment, posts shipped with Mastercam work very well out of the box. For more sophisticated applications, however, adjustments may be necessary.
Some shops feel that they are just too busy to take the time needed for optimizing their post processors. They rely on workarounds that involve manually rewriting the posted G-code at the machine. This means at least one person must understand the idiosyncratic behaviors of a particular machine.
But what happens when that person goes on vacation, or a takes a different job? And how many machinists or operators in a shop will know what adjustments should be made on every machine so that the shop has the flexibility to move people around to suit the workload on a given day?
Revising G-Code at the machine also opens the door for individuals to innocently make program modifications based on their personal preferences. For example, they might dial back feeds and speeds under the mistaken belief that they are creating safer operating conditions, when they may only be reducing manufacturing efficiency and, ironically, increasing the risk of scrap. (Incidentally, if you think this may be happening in your shop, there is software that can check to ensure that programs were run exactly as they were posted from Mastercam.) Optimizing your posts reduces or eliminates all of these issues.
What we need to do is synchronize features in our posts so that, as much as possible, they behave identically across the board. That way if you program something for one machine and want to run it on a similarly equipped machine, the programs are as compatible as possible. You don’t have to keep going in to reprogram parts every time you switch the machines they will be made on. Just do it for all your equipment, and you will save an enormous amount of time and scrap.
The good news is that for most 3-axis CNC machines, generic (no charge) posts are available that usually work fine on equipment as delivered. Mastercam Resellers are often willing to do some editing on these basic posts at little or no additional charge.
However, when you expand into 5-axis mills or advanced mill-turn equipment, then some customization may be needed to make sure what happens on multiple axes is well coordinated. In these cases, the Reseller stands ready to coordinate data gathered and settings made at the machine with the efforts of a professional post-processor developer.
Getting this work done right at the outset can eliminate subsequent headaches and get advanced multiaxis manufacturing systems operating efficiently months ahead of schedule instead of users trying to develop their own home-made post solutions. Doing it the right way, up front, generally results in a fast, many-times-over payback to the manufacturer.
In the next installment, Ingrain Technology, we will explore the benefits of adopting a respect for ever-advancing manufacturing technology in your company’s culture.
You can download a white paper that overviews the content of this blog series as a manufacturing action plan here: Ignite Your Manufacturing.
This blog series was written in partnership with QTE Manufacturing Solutions, a Mastercam Reseller providing CAD/CAM solutions in St. Louis, Kansas City, Wichita, Springfield, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Hannibal, Quincy, St. Charles, Memphis, Nashville, Jackson, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Little Rock, Bentonville, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and most other locations in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.