CNC Software Inc. reported that “the top requests from shops around the world looking to stay competitive” informed the developments in Mastercam 2017, a major release of its computer-aided manufacturing software. The developer claimed the updated program makes it faster and easier to draft CNC programs for complex parts. Some enhanced features will make material removal safer and more productive. New features extend the CAM’s support for a broader range of CNC manufacturing equipment, cutting tools, and related technologies.
The “most comprehensive testing in the company’s history,” according to CNC Software president Meghan West, saw Mastercam 2017 subjected to rigorous on-machine tests in Mastercam’s Machining Lab, feedback from the Mastercam resellers, product evaluations by shops in a global Beta Testing Program, and live user analyses of new workflow.
“Our customers are very much our partners in Mastercam product development,” West continued. “In our Machining Lab, we replicate conditions they report so that our software can deal with issues they face every day. We’re eager to understand their challenges and add value to their investment by continually making Mastercam as comprehensive and easy to use as it can be."
Among the “dozens” of significant improvements arriving with Mastercam 2017 is a package of functions labeled “CAD for CAM”: Mastercam incorporates a powerful CAD package with tools for preparing CAD models for efficient CNC programming, and for designing tools and fixtures used during subsequent manufacturing processes.
CAD for CAM tools can eliminate hours of time required to prep models for efficient CNC programming, according to the developer. For example, the Solid Impression helps machine programmers make custom fixtures, while the Solid Disassemble tool takes an assembly and lays out each body for easier machining.
Mastercam 2017 also brings numerous improvements that make 2D machining more efficient, including improvements to Mastercam’s signature Dynamic Motion toolpaths. One example is the Dynamic Mill Line of Sight micro lifts, which use an intelligent line-of-sight approach to move the tool as it travels through unobstructed areas. Users will see a reduction in air cutting, better machine cycles, and smaller program files, according to the developer.
There also are new futures to simplify multi-axis programming (four-axis, five-axis) for complex parts.
Mastercam 2017 introduces Advanced Rotary 4-Axis, which automatically defines an appropriate toolpath based on a short sequence of predefined steps, “something that would have previously taken several hours,” according to CNC Software.
Similarly, Stock Aware Multiaxis Drilling simplifies and automates the creation of multi-axis hole drilling operations.
Mill-turn programming is increasingly demanding for a growing number of machine shops, who want to reduce set-ups in order to improve workflow and productivity. Mastercam 2017 reportedly makes mill-turn programs easier to visualize and create, specifically with the introduction of Multi-Station Tool Locators for turrets and half index positions.
Tool locator positions are set in a redesigned turret set-up. As a result, turrets that previously supported 12 tools now show 50 tools in the same space.
CNC Software’s research revealed that some of Mastercam’s powerful tools had been under-utilized because busy shops could not locate them: Mastercam 2017 puts CAM programming tools in the forefront, and with an enhanced organization, which improves workflow and makes it easier for users to take advantage of Dynamic Motion toolpaths, to improve machining cycles and reduce tool wear. Beta testers reported an average two-day learning curve to gain familiarity and become comfortable with the new interface. A majority of those new users also reported substantial productivity gains.