Middleton Machining and Welding (MMW) often takes on parts that are tough to machine and, in some cases, impossible to produce without the surfacing capabilities of CAM software. The Middleton, Wis., shop manufactures medical instrumentation, lab-type, high-end components, and race-car parts for Nextel Cup Nascar and NHRA drag-racing teams. Using Mastercam software cuts programming time for these parts in half, which, in turn, adds to the company's profits.
According to Mike Everson, co-owner of MMW, the shop runs Mastercam for a different reason than what most might think. "A lot of our customers draw parts in SolidWorks," he says, "so our programmer Bob Hinds is good at converting a customer's solid model in Mastercam to make the part printless. Since the code is already developed in Mastercam, the process is more efficient than prototyping parts at a machine's controller. This is one of Mastercam's most important features — its ability to recognize SolidWorks and other CAD-generated files."
The shop puts parts into production without having to make a lot of changes, and the system catches engineering mistakes made up front. With Mastercam's surfacing feature, MMW also reduces the number of tools needed for a job. When a part has particular angles and features normally requiring special form tools, Hinds generally programs off the model with Mastercam. This makes it possible to incorporate common tools on hand for quickly surfacing and contouring a customer's part. Then for part production, the shop can employ special form tools to reduce costs.
MMW also benefits from Mastercam's verification in backplotting, which displays possible gouges or collisions. "If there's an operator error, say for instance a Z-axis movement is incorrect, we find the crash and correct it prior to real-time machining, " says Everson.
CNC Software Inc.