What Your Shop Should Know about Mastercam Swiss

Chris Leclerc, Swiss Product Specialist at Mastercam, shares some insight in this article on how Mastercam Swiss Solutions are helping shops to stay competitive and manage changes in staff without sacrificing productivity. Chris has 30 years of Swiss experience as an Applications Engineer and has programmed and operated a wide variety of Swiss machines.

When to Bring in the Swiss Solution

There is a high percentage of shops that are reluctant to get into CNC and new technologies, because they don’t want to be tied to something that keeps changing, keeps evolving. But what happens when your clients’ jobs evolve past your abilities? What happens when your manual programmer retires or goes down the street to make 50 cents more per hour? Can you afford not to have a CAD/CAM Swiss program?

Growing Pains

Contrary to popular belief, the transition is a very smooth process. I recently worked with a medical customer to outfit their operation with the Mastercam Swiss Solution. Their Reseller had demonstrated how our product can sync beautifully with their machines, but their concern was whether or not the output code from our CAD/CAM system would be too different from the code their manual programmers had been using forever. We were able to reproduce their code the way their guys are manually programming, so well that the operators on the floor might not have ever known they were using a CAD/CAM system. That’s how closely we matched the code.

Once in place, a CAD/CAM system keeps a shop’s information consolidated and organized. All the programs are kept consistent, despite the differences individual programmers may have in their coding processes. If you give ten different programmers the same part to program for the same machine, each of their programs is going to be different. With CAD/CAM, at least you can minimize the differences among those different codes. And when you’re working on a part design and the latest iteration fails, you don’t have to scrap the whole project. You can simply go back to the latest saved version of the code and regroup.

Bracing for Turnover

The average manual programmer is going to retire in the next decade. When they do, does it really make sense to find another? Based on supply and demand, a manual programmer for a Swiss machine is going to be difficult to find and demand more per hour with their numbers dwindling. Calculate that against finding someone closer to the beginning of their career, out of trade school perhaps, who knows Mastercam. For the investment in Mastercam, you gain access to a greater talent pool of individuals to program your Swiss machines—who are also able to program your lathe, your mill, your EDM, etc.

The truth of the matter is that there are more qualified CAD/CAM people available than there are manual programmers. For a millennial or a Gen-Z to jump on a computer and figure something out is second nature. Most professionals coming out of a trade school now only know CNC programming, and no system is more widely taught than Mastercam. Add to that the abundance of training material online and technical support resources, and you’ve got a pretty clear choice for a viable solution.

Staying Competitive

Swiss parts and machines are getting much more complex. When I started with Swiss almost 30 years ago, a sophisticated machine only had three axes of movement. Now we are looking at machines with 11 axes and that have grown in complexity by leaps and bounds. As a result, Swiss parts have evolved. Most manual programmers don’t have the time or ability to write out these complex programs. Recently, I did a section of a part for a client who runs the Mastercam Swiss Solution, and the lines of code I sent him were upwards of 60,000-70,000 lines. It would have taken him an impossibly long time to write all of that manually; it took me about half an hour using our software.

The bottom line is that in order to compete with job quoting, you need to take your shop to the next level. When I first started out in manufacturing, shops saw consistent loyalty from clients. If you had a high-quality product and delivered it on time, they stuck with you. Nowadays, a medical company will send out a bone screw to a dozen different shops for quotes. If the shop down the street is three cents cheaper than you, you’re not getting that job. That is the most important factor now in getting contracts. To be competitive in quoting, to be competitive in programming time, and to be competitive in accurate machining, you need to take that next step into CNC Swiss.

You must stay in step with the advancements in technology on your shop floor—your machines, your tooling, your operators, your set-up people. That means you must upgrade the support behind them to maintain these machines and expand your productivity.

To learn more about the benefits of Mastercam Swiss Solutions for your shop, please contact your local Reseller. If you need your local Mastercam Reseller’s contact information, please complete this form: Find a Reseller.