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People will love your Mastercam Post comments

Time to have some code hitting the screen, check out the 3 intros if you missed them; Mastercam Post Processor Intro, Pick your Editor and Post for Mastercam and Post Debugging in MastercamX4.
If you want to make friends, make other peoples life easier. That is exactly what we are going to do today, even with out doing something really scary to our post and our code. Our post is going to translate some miscellaneous codes into our native tongue.
Find coolant on7
Make code easy reading…
There is no doubt that understanding code makes trouble shooting so much easier, and knowing what M09 does makes a better operator. Still you get the operator who’s vocabulary only contains the phrase “The machine did something weird, and I swear I did not do anything”. Adding comments in your post output might not make your operator litteraly learn code, but it might make the comnunication between programmer and operator easier, and even let less skilled operators run 1st piece on simpler parts.
Find coolant on
Find coolant call in post…
With the debug activated from previus post Post Debugging in MastercamX4 Press “Run” under Debug and let the post work itself to the M30. Now left click on the coolant on call “M08” and notice the Post screen jump to “ptlchg_com”.
Find coolant on2
ptlchg_com…
So we know that our coolant is being activated in this string, we will open our mpmaster post in our editor and search for ptlchg_com.
Notice the line number 1777 this is the actual string, the other ptlchg_com are the post directing to this line. The way you can tell what is the actually string is it is all the way to the left and followed by a # and a comment.
Find coolant on3
*scoolantx…
Reading through ptlchg_com we end up with our M08 being a forced (the * tells us that) output in line (1) 3302. Anything between ” will be posted as is in the output, and anything in ( ) in NC gode will not be activated by the control, so having the post output (2) (COOLANT ON) is only a note, not a function!.
Notice (3) that I put #LARS in the end of my post line, this is simply a note to myself for future reference that I messed with this line. And of course remember to (4) save for this to take effect.
Find coolant on4
Note that coolant is off…
Left click on M09 and the Post window tells us that “pretract” is the string where this code is activated.
Find coolant on5
pretract…
Back to our editor and search for the string pretract, and as you start to scroll through the code, you will get 20 lines or so down…
Find coolant on6
Take care of M09 and M05…
“COOLANT OFF” and “SPINDLE OFF” in the same screen shot how convenient 🙂 . If you are using the downloaded mpmaster post from InHouse Solution it should be easy to fill in the blanks. Don’t forget to save before exiting out of the editor.
Find coolant on7
I hope this is helpful to you and others on the shop floor, and you could feks. also add other comments such as G43 (LENGTH OFFSET) or M03 (SPINDLE ON). The most important thing is that you are very careful with what you change, because these machines will only do what you tell them, also remember to backup your post before any changes. You might notice that I made all comments in CAPS, it is different from the machines how they like there letters. Haas don’t care but Fanuc will show gibberish.
Next blog post will be about your post processor asking you questions and insert your answer in the post….24 hours or so and it will be here.

Post Debugging in MastercamX4

bug
Time for the 3rd and last intro before the actual code hits the screen. The topic is post processor modification in Mastercam. If you need to back track here is the link to the two previous insect intros. Mastercam Post Processor Intro and Pick your Editor and Post for Mastercam if you are new to post modification and want to follow upcoming tutorials I recommend you give them a glance. Now let us talk Mastercams Post Debugging.
A post debugger with its own interface is fairly new in Mastercam, it can look a little overwhelming at 1st, but this tool as some great potential to be developed into something really useful (The debugger has a beta feel to it).
The debugger can be turned on or off, if you look at the above screen shot and do not see the ladybug you have to activate the debugger first.
The way to MCAMX Control Panel Applet
Activate Debugger…
1,Start => 2,All Programs => 3,MastercamX4 => 4,MCAMX Control Panel
Control Panel Applet
Post support => Enabled.

What to program
What to debug?…
Keep it simple, the more code you throw at the debugger the longer it will take it to process, and trust me it is not rocket to start with. You are just about to realize what kind of calculations that actually take place when you hit that post processor button. Secondly remember that it is not really the difficulty of the part that is a problem with a post processor, the biggest issue is functions. Your goal is to have you post processor deliver NC code that has no need of human hand editing, and in most cases it is possible. A simple square contour and drill point will give plenty for the debugger to start with. Header of Post~ Lead in/out~ line compensation~ retract~ toolchange~ canned cycle.
start debugging
Start debugging…
Under normal debugging mode there is no need to have “Edit” checked, this will prevent the editor to open up, what we need the debugger will provide.

Post debugger setup
Post debugger setup…
When the debugger opens up you are being greeted by a large amount of different windows, and just the thought of trying to orginazing these can be a task. The following order is how you should rank there importance. 1″NC Window”, 2″Post Window”, 3″NCI Window” and 4″Watches Window”. In the next coming blog posts we only are going to use 1″NC Window” and 2″Post Window” so for now just make sure those are visible.
Turn off expanded
Turn off, Expanded view…
I recommend that you make sure to turn of this feature to begin with. The feature can come in handy, but for beginners I believe it just add confusion.
Debug Run
Run…
So pressing the ladybug just opened the debugger up, to actually get the debugger cranking you need to either go “debug” drop down or memorize some F-keys. No matter what your next decision is important. “Run Turbo” is tempting, but will not do more that process your code without any debug feature. “Run” is considered normal speed (you might think you system just froze, patience it can take minutes). “Run Step” is almost as slow as if you had to write the code by hand, this feature is normally used when you really need to dig down and see each line being executed.
Post Debugger guide
For the up coming blog posts you will not need to read to much, but there is a very handy 78 page Debugger guide in your MastercamX4 document you might want to consider looking through.
1st assignment is going to be safe but very useful. We are going to add comments in brackets for easier NC reading….that blog post will be here in 24 hours or so.

A trick or two on how to select in MastercamX4

Selecting, that’s what we do ………. selecting and picking geometry and solids all day long, right?
I am confident that you got the left-clicking pretty much under control, and dragging a window a cross for selecting geometry most likely ain’t making you palm sweat. Here is a couple of selection methods in Mastercam you might didn’t know about…
(Solidworks? did cover a couple in this previous post if you missed it)

alt plus click
Vector Selection with Alt-key…
Hold “Alt” down while you drag a line through the entities you need … to easy I know.

shift plus click
Chain selection with Shift-key…
Hold “Shift’ down and click a entity, and your chain selection is active. Note, Mastercam does not handle this like a normal chain like you see for toolpaths, but this is sure a fast way to pick a lot of geometry in a hurry.

last selection
Last selection…
A cool little button on the General Selection Menu bar that needs mentioned here. One click and you’re previous selection reappear….sweet.

ctrl and a
“Ctrl” + “A” key…
Did you know? …… this keyboard combination will select everything on the screen…swing.

system
Area selection…
This function will react different depending on what your system configuration is set at…
Area selection
Placing the cursor at the red dot, making sure none of the geometry is highlighted and press “shift”, a pretty nifty feature to remember is available for you to use.

That’s it for now, remember life is about making the right choices, so ….. pick something, select something …… make something cool.

Use your Solidworks file to verify in Mastercam

Got this question asked the other day, and thought maybe it would make it worth for someone if this one year old post got dusted off, and came back out in the sunlight.

If you import Solid models into Mastercam and you are not using them for verify, then you are missing on a cool feature, more than once this has saved me the hassle of re-programing a part because I forgot to drill a hole or clear a feature.
1st. picture is just a preview of the solid and stock display turned on.
Next step is to verify our program and save the *.STL file.
Now we need to setup the stock definition to use the saved STL file as stock, and turn Display on.
You will clearly see where the 2 pockets are machined and where stock still is remaining, my blue square is a typical example of me saying “oh yeah I need to clear the corners ;-)”.
Try it, it is pretty easy habit to get into and you can not have enough tricks up in your sleeve to get the job done right the 1st time.

Solidworks and Mastercam should “trim” the menu and “extend” the help

MessyToolBox
I have never had the pleasure of visiting Solidworks or CNC Softwares headquarters, but I can only imagine the pressure that exists in those two companies hallways. Imagine at Solidworks secret underground bunker they are cracking code about Autodesk or Siemens revolutionizing new enhancements, or the poor programmer at CNC Software who are trying to get a handle of reverse engineering Esprits latest Multi axis lathe add-on.
As all us maintenance paying customers got big expectation to the next more powerful software release, I would appreciate if Solidworks and Mastercam would re-organize some of there “everyday” functions.

Solidworks Extend Entities, You use it? Why?
1
If you are a new user to Solidworks you might right fully think the answer is pretty straight forward, but I challenge you to do the same extend with the trim function.
2
“Power trim” and “Trim to closets” will do the same example as the Solidworks help file uses to demonstrate the powers of the “Extend Entities”, the matter of fact is that the trim tool is more powerful at extending than the tool carrying the name “Extend Entities”.
3
“Corner” will extend and also trim depending on what side of future extended intersection is selected.
5.
“Trim away outside” is also a mighty fine extending option under the right circumstances.

I always recommend new users to spend some quality time getting the handle of the trim tool, it is a very powerful tool that can make work flow smooth when mastered, I just wish Solidworks would organize and maybe make there help files a little more in depth on this kind of topic.

Mastercam…
6
1st of note to CNC Software, new users have a hard time finding “Trim/Break/Extend” under the standard Windows “Edit” drop down, and I understand it kinda of makes sense that “Edit” is “Edit” but something like Create/Modify as drop down might make more sense.
2nd this is a mess….Trim this and Break that and that…. or how about join entities while closing arcs. I understand that breaking geometry is a necessity in the CAM world, and I am not saying it should be eliminated either..
8
I believe that things could be cleaned up and there is room on the “Trim/Break/Extend” ribbon bar. The pop-up name when hoover over the different options in the ribbon bar would also be a huge help.

Point is…
These tools are as important to a CAD/CAM operator as a hammer is to a carpenter, it is great they can multi task, the point is not that people can not trim or extend there geometry, but that it sometimes takes a couple of tries because it is constructed as a hammer with 2 heads and help files that are not clear enough, could you imagine that a new user could read the help file once and actually from that point never was in doubt if “Power trim” or “Trim to closets” should be 1st. choice. What you think?

Solidworks and Mastercam should "trim" the menu and "extend" the help

MessyToolBox
I have never had the pleasure of visiting Solidworks or CNC Softwares headquarters, but I can only imagine the pressure that exists in those two companies hallways. Imagine at Solidworks secret underground bunker they are cracking code about Autodesk or Siemens revolutionizing new enhancements, or the poor programmer at CNC Software who are trying to get a handle of reverse engineering Esprits latest Multi axis lathe add-on.
As all us maintenance paying customers got big expectation to the next more powerful software release, I would appreciate if Solidworks and Mastercam would re-organize some of there “everyday” functions.

Solidworks Extend Entities, You use it? Why?
1
If you are a new user to Solidworks you might right fully think the answer is pretty straight forward, but I challenge you to do the same extend with the trim function.
2
“Power trim” and “Trim to closets” will do the same example as the Solidworks help file uses to demonstrate the powers of the “Extend Entities”, the matter of fact is that the trim tool is more powerful at extending than the tool carrying the name “Extend Entities”.
3
“Corner” will extend and also trim depending on what side of future extended intersection is selected.
5.
“Trim away outside” is also a mighty fine extending option under the right circumstances.

I always recommend new users to spend some quality time getting the handle of the trim tool, it is a very powerful tool that can make work flow smooth when mastered, I just wish Solidworks would organize and maybe make there help files a little more in depth on this kind of topic.

Mastercam…
6
1st of note to CNC Software, new users have a hard time finding “Trim/Break/Extend” under the standard Windows “Edit” drop down, and I understand it kinda of makes sense that “Edit” is “Edit” but something like Create/Modify as drop down might make more sense.
2nd this is a mess….Trim this and Break that and that…. or how about join entities while closing arcs. I understand that breaking geometry is a necessity in the CAM world, and I am not saying it should be eliminated either..
8
I believe that things could be cleaned up and there is room on the “Trim/Break/Extend” ribbon bar. The pop-up name when hoover over the different options in the ribbon bar would also be a huge help.

Point is…
These tools are as important to a CAD/CAM operator as a hammer is to a carpenter, it is great they can multi task, the point is not that people can not trim or extend there geometry, but that it sometimes takes a couple of tries because it is constructed as a hammer with 2 heads and help files that are not clear enough, could you imagine that a new user could read the help file once and actually from that point never was in doubt if “Power trim” or “Trim to closets” should be 1st. choice. What you think?

Engineering change, use “Change Recognition” in MastercamX4

1
You just received a text message from your wife that you favorite fishing pole is packed along with the big cooler, and ready for your trip to the lake. It is Friday afternoon, life is good because you just got that rush job burning happy and well in the WEDM for the next 16 hours.
~You know it is to good to be true~.
A call from the engineering department that a new Solidworks model has been send your way, and the change results in re-programing the part because someone by mistake added one leg too many. Fishing trip down the drain?….
4
Last month…
There was the blog post Easy to Track Solidworks files with Mastercam that will secure you catch every detail changed in the Solidworks model, now the next step…

Change Recognition
5
Mastercam compares the currently loaded file (called the original file) with the specified file (called the incoming file), and let you view the differences and also update the toolpaths.
6
As you can see, with options from the “Geometry Display” drop down it is fairly easy to key in on the differences.
* Features of the original file
* Features of the incoming file
* Features of the two files have in common
* Features unique to the original file
* Features unique to the incoming file
* Both files combined
7
Many old school people will in this case lower there head and start over, but with a little playing around to get some confidence with this feature, your fishing trip is not in danger and redoing you toolpath is piece of cake.
1) This drop down menu will help you select which toolpath you are modifying.
2) Choosing “incoming file” to use the now model for toolpath picking.
3) Just like normal this button will take you to your chain manager you know so well.
4) With the now model selected in “Geometry Display” and you old toolpath selected from you drop down menu (1) it is clear what has changed but also easy to pick your new path.

Conclusion
I think this is a great feature that came with the X series, as we see more and more models handed down and fewer actually drawings filled with revision tables, this feature has proven to be at value. The problem is that it does take some time to get comfortable with when you have a $13,000 mold Cavity sitting in your WEDM, and I do believe that some of the innovating heads at CNC Software should spend some time trying to make it a little more user friendly, maybe something in style with the new “tree style” menus they got for 2D and highspeed toolpaths could be used here?.

Engineering change, use "Change Recognition" in MastercamX4

1
You just received a text message from your wife that you favorite fishing pole is packed along with the big cooler, and ready for your trip to the lake. It is Friday afternoon, life is good because you just got that rush job burning happy and well in the WEDM for the next 16 hours.
~You know it is to good to be true~.
A call from the engineering department that a new Solidworks model has been send your way, and the change results in re-programing the part because someone by mistake added one leg too many. Fishing trip down the drain?….
4
Last month…
There was the blog post Easy to Track Solidworks files with Mastercam that will secure you catch every detail changed in the Solidworks model, now the next step…

Change Recognition
5
Mastercam compares the currently loaded file (called the original file) with the specified file (called the incoming file), and let you view the differences and also update the toolpaths.
6
As you can see, with options from the “Geometry Display” drop down it is fairly easy to key in on the differences.
* Features of the original file
* Features of the incoming file
* Features of the two files have in common
* Features unique to the original file
* Features unique to the incoming file
* Both files combined
7
Many old school people will in this case lower there head and start over, but with a little playing around to get some confidence with this feature, your fishing trip is not in danger and redoing you toolpath is piece of cake.
1) This drop down menu will help you select which toolpath you are modifying.
2) Choosing “incoming file” to use the now model for toolpath picking.
3) Just like normal this button will take you to your chain manager you know so well.
4) With the now model selected in “Geometry Display” and you old toolpath selected from you drop down menu (1) it is clear what has changed but also easy to pick your new path.

Conclusion
I think this is a great feature that came with the X series, as we see more and more models handed down and fewer actually drawings filled with revision tables, this feature has proven to be at value. The problem is that it does take some time to get comfortable with when you have a $13,000 mold Cavity sitting in your WEDM, and I do believe that some of the innovating heads at CNC Software should spend some time trying to make it a little more user friendly, maybe something in style with the new “tree style” menus they got for 2D and highspeed toolpaths could be used here?.

Wacky cool viewsheets in MastercamX4

I have never in the past found a good use for the viewsheet function in Mastercam, however in MastercamX4 you got some enhancement with viewsheets that makes them appetizing, especially if you work with 4 or 5 axis stuff, you can create a viewsheet and attach Work, Construction and Tool planes to it…….MMmmm delicious, right?
3 wacky shapes floating in space
lars12
This Isometric view shows 3 solid shapes that are floating without any strings to the Standard Work Coordinate System.
1st. Thing we are going to do is using the new MastercamX4 3D gnomon (this new feature is covered here) and create the desired Work Coordinate for each shape.
lars25
In the “New View” box we are going to name our new view and I also decided to attach a work offset to each new view, that of course would normally be more of a fixture and setup decision, but just for fun….. :-).
lars32
I am also going to setup new Work Coordinates for the 2 other shapes using the 3D gnomon, and going to name them “Green shape” and “Yellow Shape”( I hope you are not color blind ;-).
lars42
lars51
lars61
With the new views created we now have a reason to use viewsheets. 1st we need to turn it on.
Settings=>Viewsheets=>Enabled
lars71
Now open your viewmanager and and set the Work Coordinate System and view to the “Red Shape” Then….
lars91
1)”Right Click” Main Viewsheet and choose to create a “New Viewsheet”.
2)Rename it “Red Shape”
3)Save Viewsheet Bookmark
lars10
Follow the same steps for the 2 other colored shapes. Now you just hit the desired color named tap and your graphic, Work Coordinate, Construction, Tool planes and Work offsets will change………just like that you can program with a snap of your fingers.
There was someone on Mastercams forum who suggested to have your setup sheet attached to its own viewsheet, is the sky the limit? you got any ideas for viewsheets? leave a comment.

How to import Solidworks into Mastercam-New for X4!

lars2
As I wrote back in early June when MastercamX4 hit the street (link= MastercamX4 is Downloadablde )that the new Dynamic 3D gnomon is going to be one of the new function that is going to carry the ship heavily loaded with expectations and maintenance fees. Yes I do actually like this function. Eliminating half a dozen of steps importing Solidworks files into Mastercam is worth a pad on the back to CNC Software.

Old School
If you have not had the pleasure of upgrading to MastercamX4 and you would like to know how to import Solidworks into Mastercam without your model ending looking at you upside down, check out this previus blog post where importing into Mastercam was what we did Play-Good Part1, Solidworks into Mastercam

Punk Rock 2009 School….way…
Our 4axis tombstone drawn just as we like to view things in Isometric view in Solidworks 2009.
lars1

There is going to be enough of screen shots in this post, so I hope you forgive me for not include one of the “Open File => *.sldprt”.
lars3
You can quickly see that the imported Solidworks file is screwed in regards to viewing it in Isometric. Having you tombstone located correctly in regards to the planes you are going to knit toolpaths to is more than “Best Practice”. You will see that “Dynamic plans” is already cozy located on my ever growing “Right Click” menu.
Want to customize your “Right Click” menu? Work Flow is THAT imporent!

lars4
As described in MastercamX4 is Downloadablde depending on where you pan you cursor over on the Dynamic 3D gnomon will activate different direction for the rotating axis and origin of rotation. We are 1st. going to snap the gnomon to origin, what was not lost doing import. Notice how our solid turns transparent for ease of working with the gnomon. 2nd. we are going to click the letter “Z” what will let us rotate that axis around the “X” axis and end up with the “Z” axis going through our tombstone and be center of rotation.
lars6
Next we are going to grab the “X”axis and spin it -90 degrees around the “Z”axis. This is going to give us our correct Work Coordinates, so now hit the “Green” check mark, and the “New View” dialog box greets us.
lars7
Name your newly created view and check “Set as WCS” (Work Coordinate System). Then click “Green” check mark and that opens up your View Manager.
lars8
Your new view is created and good to go, but just because we have a busy 4 sided tombstone we are going to snap our fingers and create the remaining planes needed for programing by clicking “Realetive…” and selecting the planes we want associated to our new view.
lars9
Our model is now sitting just as it should for ease of programing. CNC Software made things better. Creating reference coordinate system in Solidworks is not the biggest hazel, however this was something Mastercam needed to handle, and X4 does :-).