When Simple Wood Curves Aren’t So Simple

Burns Wood Products is unique. Located in Granite Falls, NC, they manufacture shaped plywood for manufacturers that need curved doors, drawer fronts, table aprons – primarily any products where bowed plywood can be used in production. For them, wood is all about curves and shapes that few companies produce. To keep ahead of their competition and serve their expanding markets, the company requires the latest advances in equipment and software to produce these unique products.

With 40 employees and 40,000 sq ft of manufacturing space, the 25-year old company produces part quantities from 15 to 2,000. To produce unique shapes in wood, the company recently added two 5-axis router machines and one 3-axis machine. To control these machines, they use Mastercam CAD/CAM software which allows the wood designers great flexibility to produce the desired wood shapes and contours they need. After designing the component, the information is downloaded to the routers to produce the parts.

Programmer Travis Buchanan mentions that there are two features that he uses which are very important to him in Mastercam are Backplot and Verify. He uses them to make sure he doesn’t have a crash. He also likes the surfacing toolpaths in Mastercam. “I really like the 5-axis toolpaths that are available. Being able to control the tool in a 5-axis curve with line control has been a real useful feature for me.”

He continues to say, “I really think the axis limitations was an efficient feature that Mastercam added. If I need to machine something, and say the knuckle on my 5-axis is going to hit, I can just tell it to not let the A axis go over 45 degrees, and modify the toolpath to hold that 45 degree angle with the A axis.” Buchanan adds that he uses Mastercam’s surface toolpath capabilities for the workholding vacuum fixtures. “I feel like every programmer that uses Mastercam picks his favorite toolpaths. I would say that I’m covering 50-60% of the toolpaths in Mastercam.
At one time when Buchanan worked for a furniture manufacturer, they used a different type of software that competed with Mastercam, but he says, “It was just too complicated, and you didn’t have the ease-of-use that Mastercam has. We considered it, and we actually sent a person to Canada for two weeks training on the software. But it just didn’t do the job as quickly and easily as Mastercam could.”

With the addition of the 3 and 5-axis CNC routers, Mastercam, and a digitizer, Burns Wood Products can now give its customers optimal choices to develop products and shorten lead times. The company’s goal is to continue to study technological advances and add them as necessary to stay ahead of the competition and give its customers quality products.

To view more Mastercam woodworking success stories, please visit www.mastercamrouter.com/successstories.

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