With the advent of cloud-based subscription software like Fusion 360 from Autodesk, the push to fully integrate CAD and CAM software into perpetually less difficult all-in-one user experiences seems to be underway.
Every machine shop, hacker space and job shop, no matter how large or small, can use any one of a large variety of CAM software. But going from designing an assembly, component or object in 3D modeling CAD software to creating toolpaths for the huge number of CNC machines can give newcomers and experienced machinists an abundance of options that can be overwhelming.
Mastercam is a popular Windows-based CAD/CAM software for CNC machining, solid modeling, enterprise decision management (EDM)routing, milling and turning, 2- and 4-axis wire EDM, 2D and 3D design, surface and solid modeling, and Swiss machining.
The basic goal of design tools for your shop is to get the parts on and off the machine as efficiently as possible. Of course, with the highest quality for parts, you are going to post-process and finish them, or the exact desired quality if you are, say, making a crude prototype.
You want your modeling tools to help you as much or as little as you want when you are engaging in direct editing, hole filling and geometry repair, for example.
Mastercam is extremely on point (pun intended) in terms of letting its global user base know whenever new improvements—which it tends to call “enhancements”—are made to its software, and so there are a few noteworthy additions to Mastercam 2017 Design.
New Improvements to Mastercam 2017 Design
Optimization of imported solid bodies and individual faces
The CAD/CAM software improves the accuracy of edges by selecting and optimizing blends, which, in turn, allows the Model Prep functions to work more efficiently. The song remains the same when it comes to your previously created toolpaths, and the repaired solid will keep its associativity to its faces.
A snapshot of Mastercam2017 Design, showing the design specs of selected components. (Image courtesy of Mastercam.)
Solid Disassemble of Each Body to a Single Plane
This improvement works well with your existing preferences. Whether your models have a history or not, if they are imports or if you’ve created them from within Mastercam itself, this Model Prep function deconstructs a solid assembly and puts each body on display in its own single plane at the toolpath origin, which is intended to help save time and a few steps.
A snapshot of an improvement in the Model Prep function, which takes apart a solid assembly and lays out each body on a single plane at its toolpath origin. (Image courtesy of Mastercam.)
New Preprocess Solid Option Helps Clean Up Conversion Errors When Importing Solids
Perhaps you’ve used the Surface From Solids function and noticed annoying errors when converting your imported solid faces to surfaces. The new Preprocess Solid option helps you out by taking the load off this conversion process and making a duplicate of the body, preparing it and creating surfaces from it. Post-conversion, the software deletes the preprocessed body. This leaves you with your improved original design.