The only thing worse than a useless tool is an excellent tool that goes underutilized. When you invest in a powerful computer-aided manufacturing system to bring your shop to the next level, make sure you are getting absolutely all you can out of it. Part of this comes down to preparation. Use this checklist to prepare for Mastercam 2022 and to unlock untapped potential sitting in your shop.
Organize your tools.
The first step to tool organization is tool optimization. Are you using the same 10 end mills for 90 percent of your projects just to keep things simple? Are you relying on adequate tooling instead of optimized tooling? Take this time to look critically at the end mills you use, the end mills you leave in the drawer, and the end mills you might need to buy. Selecting the best tool for a project can not only reduce cycle time but can also reduce excess tool wear and gouging.
Once you have reevaluated the tools your shop needs, consider tool organization, both physical and digital. Physically, the most used tools should be easily accessible and clearly organized. It won’t matter how efficient your programming is if your machinists are wasting time digging through piles of end mills or searching every work station for a particular tool. By keeping tools in clear, centralized locations that everyone can access, you eliminate human error, save crucial time, and even save money that might have been spent purchasing lost end mills that are already somewhere in the shop.
On the digital side of things, Mastercam software is ready to help. Take full advantage of Mastercam’s included Tool Library, which allows users to keep track of the tools they use every day. You can rely on the Tool Library to provide the specifications of each end mill accurately and quickly as you program parts, eliminating the need to input that data manually.
Furthermore, cutting tool partners like Sandvik Coromant, IMCO, KYOCERA SGS Precision Tools, and Harvey Performance Company work with Mastercam to create comprehensive tool library integration. The Harvey Tool and Helical Solutions tool library of over 17,000 end mills, for example, pairs seamlessly with the Mastercam interface and comes with helpful technical information included. It’s never been easier to keep your tools organized digitally.
Organize your files.
Even if your shop specializes in high mix, low volume orders, the value in referring back to previous projects is powerful. In this way, you can check to see how tricky geometries were programmed in the past, how cycle times have changed over time, and how similar parts might be designed.
The first step in file organization is removing legacy files that no longer have any value to the shop. These include old files with outdated machining techniques, files lacking advanced toolpaths for reference, and duplicate files. After your files have been pared down to the ones vital to production, you can then set up a shop-wide filing system.
Any person in your shop should be able to find a file simply by knowing the part name, customer, or style of programming. Choose which of these is most intuitive for your team and create a filing system. The Mastercam Manufacturing Lab recommends following standard protocols to maintain order and productivity. Here are some recommendations to get started:
- Name your files starting with a date: July82020_AccurateMold.
- Place all your Wireframe Geometry on Level 1.
- Place the Part Solid on Level 20.
- Place any Additional Toolpath Geometry on Levels 60-70.
- Place all Fixture Geometry on Levels 80-90.
- Place Stock Geometry on Level 99.
Update your computers.
You’ve done the time-intensive work to organize your files and your tools. Great! Now it’s time for an easy step—updating your shop computers to the newest operating system. Staying up to date will improve your computer’s efficiency in all aspects—not just in your CAM system. Please note that the Windows operating system support is changing for Mastercam 2023; regular systems updating can save your shop time and stress in the future.
Reacquaint yourself with your software.
Most shops are guilty of only using what they know within their software. Have you pushed yourself or your team out of your comfort zone to learn more features and functions within Mastercam 2022? Does everyone on your team know how to use the software well? If not, you are leaving money on the table. When someone inevitably calls in sick or leaves the company, your staff needs to be able to fill that gap and employ the best techniques possible to optimize your machining in any area of the shop.
Being educated on your software now can put you miles ahead of your competition when the next version is released—the stronger your knowledge of your software, the faster you will learn its newly released or improved functions. Set a goal for your team to learn three new tools within Mastercam 2022 before the launch.
Consider reaching out to your local Mastercam Reseller for their expert suggestions or to inquire about classes they might provide. Reseller Barefoot CNC, for example, offers monthly webinars on underused features that could be saving you time and money. You can also enroll in courses at Mastercam University, where you can learn how to implement the best features for your shop 24/7.
Make time to learn Mastercam 2022.
Your final task is to ensure you have the time to explore Mastercam 2022. Before your calendar fills up with meetings and projects, set aside an hour every other week to teach yourself new advanced functions like OptiRough within 2D Mill, automatic region chaining, mesh editing tools, multiple adapter support, and the unified Multiaxis toolpath. Also, consider scheduling a recurring monthly meeting with your Reseller to help you navigate the software’s newest functions so that you can maximize productivity.
When you are ready to purchase or update your CAM platform and gain access to the latest technological advances for productivity, please give us a call.