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Is Mastercam still the right CAM for us??

huleo

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Location
UT
We have not updated in awhile. I think running X7, but we have other shops that stay with the latest and just not seeing much different? There for awhile, it seemed like MC basically fixed bugs and moving things around and call it new. Every time they change the interface, you have to go learn that now. It was getting old!

Basically we have toyed with Catia CAM or other system to simplify our life. Lots of stuff is thrown to us in native Catia. We always thought that would make things so much easier but when I took it for a test drive, I was not impressed.

MC works fine for us on basic 3-4 axis stuff, but 5th got complicated and blame is put on the software, then the post, then the programmer, etc. Probably our biggest complaint is lathe programming. I made the decision to run everything through CAM, no matter how small if it is a production part. But getting tools/holders in there is a nightmare! Half the stuff programmed goes out as "close" and has to be fixed at the machine, like bar pulls or something.

So I guess I'm asking if MC is still as good as anything else? Gibbs has always had a decent setup. There are new players out there now though. We cannot put ANY files in a cloud though. That can't happen in our work.
 
Hi huleo:
I confronted a similar scenario about a year ago...I was asked to recommend all purpose software for a client who was building up a machine shop of their own.
I ended up accepting the limitations of Mastercam 2023 despite its shortcomings (yes there are many) and my reasons had nothing to do with whether the software was the "Best" or not...pragmatic considerations like purchase price, quality local support, a trained labour pool from which to hire, familiarity all played a part.

Obviously for you, familiarity is big, so is your ability to re-use CAM files that already exist.

Like you I found some specifics irksome...the one that resonates is the turning tool challenge.
Interestingly I found that once I had a method, I was able to do what I need with growing confidence and the swearing I did once upon a time is largely a thing of the past.
I had lots of help on here which you likely will not need (unlike you, I'm still a novice with the software).

I've yet to have a machine disaster because of the software and I'm an old fart...set in his ways and not that mentally nimble anymore, so if I could do it, your employees should be able to do it too, and they should be embarrassed if they can't.

Also, any software I've ever tried has its WTF moments...you will not escape them by choosing a different set of problems to confront.

Having said that, there is a good case to make for buying what will meet all your needs, and only you really know what they are.
If it's all turning and mill-turn, you may well find Esprit more to your taste, but you will find plenty to legitimately bitch about there too.
If it's five axis maybe Powermill or Hypermill or anyone of a dozen other softwares that various among us wax eloquent in praise of but there too you will find plenty to bitch about.

In the end, if your guys can make good parts efficiently, no one but a narrow-minded zealot or a chronic whiner will care which you picked.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
 
At the very least, you should upgrade Mastercam and then compare that to what else is out there. With a shop full of Mastercam programmers, seems this is a pretty easy first step.

I think you'd be surprised at the cost difference between getting back on maintenance with Mastercam vs outright switching softwares....and like implmex mentioned, all your old files are still good.
 
@huleo
I have to agree with others. Upgrade first.
I ran Gibbs for quite a while and was happy with it.
On my own I run PowerStation but my parts are rather simple 2,3,and 4 axis stuff.
 
Don’t upgrade just to make a comparison. For upgrading from X7 to 2024 you will pay the whole price, it’s not worth it if you will switch then to another software.
For you MC has only two advantages over any other CAM system.
First your staff already know it, they will need only to get used to UI,
Second - easy to hire people with knowledge of MC.
MC is mediocre software with horrible CAD functions but better than Gibbs.
Talking about 5 axis programming, almost all CAM software in market is using the same module made by ModuleWorks, so don't expect to get anything different than you are familiar already. Maybe only HyperMill and Catia use their original 5 axis module.

Major upgrades are happened in MC since X7: new UI (which I like, but many people hate), new Verify window (the old one is horrible),
they finalized 3D high speed toolpaths (you have to click much more than in old style surface toolpaths, but get more control),
model prep - very helpful CAD functions (you have some of these functions in X7).
 
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For upgrading from X7 to 2024 you will pay the whole price,
I think they are offering users who have let their maintenance lap a free upgrade but just pay the maintenance cost. I think that is going until the end of December.
That's huge and the OP should jump on that.
 
Appreciate the replies! I will highlight a few topics we discussed recently and like to hear from others than an MC salesman, if there is enough advancement to stick with it. I certainly agree that there are a ton of users of MC, but in our experience, there are a bunch of 'programmers' that have zero machining experience. For that reason, I end up having to do it myself.

1. The lathe side, especially the millturn side, is horrible! Largely it seems getting the model axis aligned and positioned properly. I realize some of this is experience related, but sure seems lathe took a back shelf to mill.

2. Part geometry edits. This is one of the big CAD powers of Catia. It's smart enough to know what you are trying to do. Something as simple as changing a radii of a part edge is a mess and we fight this stuff so we don't have to edit a model and start CAM work all over. Sometimes hole locations are not right and we end up doing a hole offset in CAM ,which makes the program different than the model. Possibly a better work around and again, experience related.

3. The fun with posts or aux functions. I really wish there was a better editor for posts to tune them. We commonly might move the table to a certain position for in-program part checks. We usually just end up doing this as a hand edit or at machine, but the goal has always been to get as close to 100% from CAM to machine as possible. We find ANY hand edits can become a source of errors with crash potential.
 
2. Part geometry edits. This is one of the big CAD powers of Catia. It's smart enough to know what you are trying to do. Something as simple as changing a radii of a part edge is a mess and we fight this stuff so we don't have to edit a model and start CAM work all over. Sometimes hole locations are not right and we end up doing a hole offset in CAM ,which makes the program different than the model. Possibly a better work around and again, experience related.

These are simple changes in Mastercam 2020 and newer versions with the Model Prep feature.
 
Appreciate the replies! I will highlight a few topics we discussed recently and like to hear from others than an MC salesman, if there is enough advancement to stick with it. I certainly agree that there are a ton of users of MC, but in our experience, there are a bunch of 'programmers' that have zero machining experience. For that reason, I end up having to do it myself.

1. The lathe side, especially the millturn side, is horrible! Largely it seems getting the model axis aligned and positioned properly. I realize some of this is experience related, but sure seems lathe took a back shelf to mill.

2. Part geometry edits. This is one of the big CAD powers of Catia. It's smart enough to know what you are trying to do. Something as simple as changing a radii of a part edge is a mess and we fight this stuff so we don't have to edit a model and start CAM work all over. Sometimes hole locations are not right and we end up doing a hole offset in CAM ,which makes the program different than the model. Possibly a better work around and again, experience related.

3. The fun with posts or aux functions. I really wish there was a better editor for posts to tune them. We commonly might move the table to a certain position for in-program part checks. We usually just end up doing this as a hand edit or at machine, but the goal has always been to get as close to 100% from CAM to machine as possible. We find ANY hand edits can become a source of errors with crash potential.

1- lathe is the red headed step child. It is convoluted and never has had much love. Mill-Turn is worse.
2- You will really like model prep.
3- pretty simple with manual entry - minimal to zero post edit needed on that one.
 
3. The fun with posts or aux functions. I really wish there was a better editor for posts to tune them. We commonly might move the table to a certain position for in-program part checks. We usually just end up doing this as a hand edit or at machine, but the goal has always been to get as close to 100% from CAM to machine as possible. We find ANY hand edits can become a source of errors with crash potential.

Simco Editor is amazing and it comes with MC.
 
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You need to choose what is your major work.
Is it 3,4 and 5 axis - you can keep your MC and safe time on learning.
Lathe and MillTurn - start thinking about Esprit. I heard that Esprit sucks in milling,
Maybe you want better integration with CAD - so any CAM integrated in Solidworks will help you ( SolidCam, CamWorks).
If you can spend good amount, you better get NX but keep in mind the learning it will take a while.
 
Appreciate the replies! I will highlight a few topics we discussed recently and like to hear from others than an MC salesman, if there is enough advancement to stick with it. I certainly agree that there are a ton of users of MC, but in our experience, there are a bunch of 'programmers' that have zero machining experience. For that reason, I end up having to do it myself.

1. The lathe side, especially the millturn side, is horrible! Largely it seems getting the model axis aligned and positioned properly. I realize some of this is experience related, but sure seems lathe took a back shelf to mill.

2. Part geometry edits. This is one of the big CAD powers of Catia. It's smart enough to know what you are trying to do. Something as simple as changing a radii of a part edge is a mess and we fight this stuff so we don't have to edit a model and start CAM work all over. Sometimes hole locations are not right and we end up doing a hole offset in CAM ,which makes the program different than the model. Possibly a better work around and again, experience related.

3. The fun with posts or aux functions. I really wish there was a better editor for posts to tune them. We commonly might move the table to a certain position for in-program part checks. We usually just end up doing this as a hand edit or at machine, but the goal has always been to get as close to 100% from CAM to machine as possible. We find ANY hand edits can become a source of errors with crash potential.

I don't sell Mastercam. I mentioned upgrading knowing there are deals to be had right now that would get you on 2024 to see what you're missing out on.
But looking at these 3 points, all you need is some training. That being said, it won't matter what software you pick if you don't learn how to use it.

In mcam...
1.Model alignment for Lathe is dead easy. Use Dynamic Xform or the Align to Z function.
2.Model prep or just use the typical CAD functions to make new features. 'Holes' in model prep is very useful, 'Move' could also be used for your scenario.
3.Manual Entry toolpath or use a reference point in the toolpath with M00 when toolpath is complete. Want to pause mid toolpath, enable inspection point.
 
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After using the new interface now for a few months im starting to like it. It was kind of handy having every command right in front of you on the old setup. Most functions are 2 clicks now but you can customize a quick access toolbar for anything used frequently. The new setup would probably be faster to learn for anyone starting new. More organized.

We use it for lathe too and it works fine for us. Building a good tool library is important. Stock one sucks.
 
We have not updated in awhile. I think running X7, but we have other shops that stay with the latest and just not seeing much different? There for awhile, it seemed like MC basically fixed bugs and moving things around and call it new. Every time they change the interface, you have to go learn that now. It was getting old!

Basically we have toyed with Catia CAM or other system to simplify our life. Lots of stuff is thrown to us in native Catia. We always thought that would make things so much easier but when I took it for a test drive, I was not impressed.

MC works fine for us on basic 3-4 axis stuff, but 5th got complicated and blame is put on the software, then the post, then the programmer, etc. Probably our biggest complaint is lathe programming. I made the decision to run everything through CAM, no matter how small if it is a production part. But getting tools/holders in there is a nightmare! Half the stuff programmed goes out as "close" and has to be fixed at the machine, like bar pulls or something.

So I guess I'm asking if MC is still as good as anything else? Gibbs has always had a decent setup. There are new players out there now though. We cannot put ANY files in a cloud though. That can't happen in our work.
IMO I would request trials of your top 3 choices you are interested in and play in them as much as you can.

I'm going to throw out CAMWorks, it is what I use, I can't say anything about the 5th axis module being I have never used it, but I have had no issues ever programming anything all the way the way up to simultaneous 4th. There's nothing I've come across I couldn't program.

Pricing, I don't think you can beat CAMWorks, the CAMWorks Mill Pro package includes Turning and Mill Turn, CAMWorks runs in SolidWorks, the Mill Pro package including SolidWorks Standard runs $12,070 up front and $3850 annually. In comparison what I have had quoted (MasterCam, NX, SolidCAM) you will be pushing $20k+ for a Mill, Lathe, Mill Turn package.

CAMWorks turning, very minimal experience, I have very minimal turning experience, I bought a turning center last year, I programmed, set up and ran two parts, thats my turning experience, haven't touched it since, I found the programming to be very intuitive. I have nothing to compare it to though.

Again IMO, I would give a few CAM options a good solid trial run. If I was to move away from CAMWorks and want to stay within SolidWorks, I would go SolidCAM but if I was to move away from SolidWorks I would go NX.

On the Post side of things, I let my reseller handle that now, I used to make edits myself, but I negotiated in 3 Post's with my seat purchase and let them take care of it, post edits are typically same day.
 
We have not updated in awhile. I think running X7, but we have other shops that stay with the latest and just not seeing much different? There for awhile, it seemed like MC basically fixed bugs and moving things around and call it new. Every time they change the interface, you have to go learn that now. It was getting old!

Basically we have toyed with Catia CAM or other system to simplify our life. Lots of stuff is thrown to us in native Catia. We always thought that would make things so much easier but when I took it for a test drive, I was not impressed.

MC works fine for us on basic 3-4 axis stuff, but 5th got complicated and blame is put on the software, then the post, then the programmer, etc. Probably our biggest complaint is lathe programming. I made the decision to run everything through CAM, no matter how small if it is a production part. But getting tools/holders in there is a nightmare! Half the stuff programmed goes out as "close" and has to be fixed at the machine, like bar pulls or something.

So I guess I'm asking if MC is still as good as anything else? Gibbs has always had a decent setup. There are new players out there now though. We cannot put ANY files in a cloud though. That can't happen in our work.
I have used edgecam for over 15 years. I used MC before that. Now I’m at a company that uses MC and it has some serious shortcomings. The edgecam simulator is so much better. To me that is a deciding factor. We have crashes and part gouging constantly from our programmers. Being able to precisely simulate your set up is crucial. I would definitely look around before spending any more money with MC.
 
I have used edgecam for over 15 years. I used MC before that. Now I’m at a company that uses MC and it has some serious shortcomings. The edgecam simulator is so much better. To me that is a deciding factor. We have crashes and part gouging constantly from our programmers. Being able to precisely simulate your set up is crucial. I would definitely look around before spending any more money with MC.
Not a MC fanboy but we don't have any crashes because of the simulator. Are you sure the simulation and post are configured correctly? Do you have any examples?
 
I have used edgecam for over 15 years. I used MC before that. Now I’m at a company that uses MC and it has some serious shortcomings. The edgecam simulator is so much better. To me that is a deciding factor. We have crashes and part gouging constantly from our programmers. Being able to precisely simulate your set up is crucial. I would definitely look around before spending any more money with MC.
Mastercam has 2 simulators. Mastercam and Moduleworks. Both need to be set up properly in order to be accurate. As with any machine simulator I would imagine.
Holders accurately defined, tools, etc..
 
Mastercam has 2 simulators. Mastercam and Moduleworks. Both need to be set up properly in order to be accurate. As with any machine simulator I would imagine.
Holders accurately defined, tools, etc..
Only issue with mastercam simulation is that it is based off of NCI data, so if your post is whacky it won't help. A true NC sim like CAMplete seems the way to go. I am about to get it at my job and I am quite excited lol
 








 
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