The Release of Mastercam 2020 and the Proof of Beta Testing
Alan Rooks, Editor-in-Chief of Manufacturing Engineering, interviewed Ben Mund, Senior Market Analyst at CNC Software, Inc. (Tolland, CT), for an article featured in the March 2019 issue, entitled “Mastercam Blends New Technology, Support and Beta Testing to Improve CAM Performance.”
Mastercam 2020 is scheduled to be released this year with an expanded and improved core Dynamic Motion engine that increases time savings and advances the accelerated finishing toolpaths for shaped tools. In collaboration with machine tool developers, “we’ve made sure to touch as many aspects of a shop’s needs as we can, from faster, consolidated hole making to high-precision, complex, multiaxis machining,” said Mund.
It’s vital for the future of manufacturing to make as many connections as possible for incoming data threads, pulling information into Mastercam, processing it, and then passing the information on. Mastercam developers have added ways to improve process documentation and estimation, as well as continuing to work with others who are advancing connected manufacturing, including new manufacturer-specific tool libraries and expanded model-based definition support. “We’ve also provided more CAD for CAM offerings so that the operators have the CAD tools that they need to get the part on and off the machine quickly,” Mund explained.
CNC Software is one of the few CAM companies that has a fully operational machine shop, with multiple machine tools and manufacturing equipment at its Connecticut headquarters. “We use this facility to really hammer our software, pushing it to its limits,” said Mund. As new software, toolpaths, and techniques are developed, they try to replicate the shop environment in several configurations. “We rotate makes and models of machine tools through the shop, which is dedicated to R&D testing of the software.”
Mastercam benefits from a very strong public beta program that includes many beta users and shops who test the software and send feedback. A roster of about 100 pre-beta shops help with initial testing of new concepts and approaches. Once they’ve gone through that process, adjustments are made, and it’s opened up to their Public Beta program where any shop worldwide that has current Mastercam Maintenance can download the upcoming release and provide feedback to help shape the final product. “We get invaluable insight on everything from practical interface workflow to edge cases for specific toolpaths. Our community definitely makes us better,” said Mund.
To get Mastercam in the hands of users, CNC Software relies on their extensive Reseller network that provides hundreds of points of presence throughout the world. Mund added, “The support network behind our CAM system is crucial, and we’ve cultivated it for 35 years. It’s one of the differentiators that we’re proudest of. We have people who have been with us for almost the entire life of the product. That’s a lot of experience and a direct benefit to the users. Our Resellers are on the front line.”
In 2018, CIMdata ranked Mastercam the number one CAM software used worldwide in both the educational and industrial categories. The company has been able to hold that position due to community confidence. “Our community is based on those broad-based, 250,000 installations, nearly twice as many installed seats as our nearest competitor. We have a very active and engaged community that talk to each other and back each other up and help each other,” he said.
Lastly, they work closely with local high schools and community colleges and partnered with the National Robotics League as a Diamond-level sponsor and participated in NASA HUNCH (High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware) in an effort to bring high school students new educational experiences with NASA projects, as well as a number of other programs. “One of our main missions is to get students excited about manufacturing as a career,” Mund concluded.