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A quick look out on the CAD/CAM Web July09

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Update 7-16-2009 I mistakenly wrote you had to be a paying subscriber to access the Solidworks forum, that is not true!

A couple of cool CAD and CAM related places on the web you might enjoy along with a cup of coffee.

Delcam TV
A online TV station dedicated to show CAM software thundering G-code into cool shapes and make profitable companies. Is this cheap advertising ? Absolutely, but still a cool idea, and always good to get a sneak peak at what others are doing. DelcamTv

Real cost benefits from automated CAM/CAD
Sescoi (WorkNC) has put together a handy little 6 page pdf pointing out the benefits of CAM instead of programing at the machine itself. It was of course written with WorkNC in mind, but I will say you could replace WorkNC with any major CAM developer and it still would be true, ohhh and it contains a colorful chart that could come in handy when upper management are asking why the company are not eliminating your position and program at the machine.
benefits from CAM

New and improved Solidworks Forum
If you have not been there for awhile, Richard Doyle blogged about it here

Need to find a job?
Tenlinks announced that they are relaunching CADtalent.com, a job directory devoted to CAD, CAM and CAE professionals.

Mastercam Store
InHouse Solution has gotten there eStore up and running, books, shirts and pens are now available for purchase. Funny thing is that people have been screaming about this for years on emastercams forum, but either people have not realized it is now open, or when time is to show the wallet people got quite.
emastercam store

2D is for sissies
Talking about shopping, why not check out the new SWGeeks Store. Though the product has the Solidworks logo on it, I think everyone who works on a software that can extrude a solid would agree “2D is for sissies” and all the profits will go to the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, so there is no excuse.
swgeek.com

More coffee anyone?

Easy to Track Solidworks files with Mastercam

Next after your computer actually blowing up, trying to find a lost file on the server or hard drive has to be one of the worst thing ever!
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Last month Jeff Mirisola who runs Jeff’s Tool Shed posted a review for a program called CADFind. It is a Solidworks add-on that somewhat magically using your sketch as a search tool.
Reading Jeff Mirisolas post reminded me of Mastercams tracking function. You can’t really compare the 2 function and CADFind is a paid add-on, but with the amount of time people are spending searching and confirming changes to CAD files, you should know about these programs existence if you are a Solidworks and Mastercam user.
So learn about CADFind by reading Jeff Mirisolas post here CADFind…ing what you can’t , and then I will explain Mastercams tracking and show how easy it is to set up.

Track Solidworks files with Mastercam
You get handed a file with a email attached saying that the hole location in you model has been changed by 1.5mm, costumer don’t want to hear any prize increase because this is of course considered a minor change, and with all this modern CAD and CAM how difficult is it really. But as the email was typed the engineer dropped jelly filling on his shirt, and in the panic of his wife’s anger and his damaged diet, he forget to tell you about the corner radii change he also made.
Well the shirt is a lose but your part might not be if you are using Mastercams Tracking function.

Open your Solidworks file in Mastercam, Then File => Tracking => Tracking Options.
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With the Tracking dialog open, right click anywhere in the white empty field and you will be prompted to add, now pick your Solidworks file.
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After you choose you Solidworks file to track, you will have the change to setup some tracking options.
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So next time the your favorite engineer sends you a file, go into tracking options, highlight your file and press “Check Now” and Mastercam will notify you if any changes.
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2 pretty neat functions, one for Solidworks that will help you do things once, and one for Mastercam to keep issues from sneaking up on you.

#4 Mastercam turns robotic with RobotMaster

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Did you read the so informative post leading up to this one? if not here they are. #1 When you should make room for robots, #2 Fanuc Robotics Your Partner on the shop floor and #3 RobotWorks turns SW into a Robotic remote control

Welcome to RobotMaster, kinda like doubling the power of you CAD/CAM package.

So the talk yesterday was about controlling you robot inside Solidworks with the add-on RobotWorks, a delicious package for you CAD Software.
Today we are talking RobotMaster and Mastercam, the idea is the same, however most likely Mastercam users are going to feel more comfortable with RobotMaster, from the perspective that it is closer to a everyday task of programming a CNC machine.

Update July 15-2009
Check out this cool yourtube skull being done with RobotMaster Robot Skull

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So if you are familiar to Mastercam I dare to say that the above screen shot isn’t scary, it looks like Mastercam, it smells like Mastercam. After the user have created the curves and lines the Robot is to follow, RobotMaster module lets you pull in from a library the robot definition , it is something similar to known “machine group” in the standard Mastercam.
On the right side of the screen shot you see the RobotMaster Simulation control box, this are to check the robot motion, and display it differently, look at different joint angles, collisions etc. When everything is all fine tuned, much as in your normal Mastercam you will run it through a post processor that will give you the necessary code.
Tyler Robertson of In-House Solution, a Mastercam and RoboMaster reseller gave some great pointers in regards to things that should be considered when entering the world of robots and robot software.

*The most important questions will depend on the application of the robot(s), Automation is usually an engineered design for a complete system, designed to accomplish a specific task, and most companies will need to establish their own criteria for success which would then be agreed upon by each party when developing a solution for someone. There are some general questions people might find themselves asking:
– Are they the sole supplier of the system, or are they providing a solution from multiple partners
– Are there other companies currently using this type of Automation?
– What type of training would be required to use the system
– What is the support plan like?
– Can the system grow as business expands? How flexible/reconfigurable is the equipment/process?
– Are there secondary operations the system could be utilized for, should needs change?

For anyone starting fresh with robotics, a great starting reference is Industrial Robots by Andrew Glaser, National Sales manager for robot integrator Ellison Technologies Automation (http://new.industrialpress.com/9780831133580)

If you have read #1 through #4 of this robot theme week, I think you can start dragging the red thread through each advice recieved, and you have to be a little more comfortable entering the world of robots now.

RobotMaster supports all major robotic manufactures and that of course include our friend from post blog #2 Fanuc Robotics Your Partner on the shop floor
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Tyler Robertson had this to add.

*Robotmaster has default post processors to generate code for Fanuc, ABB, Kuka, Motoman and Staubli robots, and we work with our users on an install to has their post processors integrated with their required customizations, and provide access to further customize their code output should need arise. What Robotmaster has to offer is a system built on an industry standard software (Mastercam) that can be used to program robot trajectories for a variety of popular robot brands. Even in small companies, there is often some form of CAD/CAM software, so using Robotmaster can leverage the existing knowledge of people in industry, and provide them with a common interface to manage their robot programming operations. The programs generated using Robotmaster are ready to be loaded straight to the robot control.

The advantage of using robots is clear for many applications, Robotmaster helps you program your robot to do some very complicated task. beneath is a picture of a skateboard being sanded, an application that by human hand never would have same consistency outcome as a robot, do I dare to say the robot does a better job……..yes I do.
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click here to see a skateboard being 6 axis sanded, like a symphony of moves.

What about the support and maintenance?
Tyler Robertson:
*Robotmaster works through a network of resellers and integrators both in the Americas and internationally. We work with our resellers to provide support via phone, internet and local site support. Many of our resellers have been involved in CAD/CAM software and support for decades and have been providing local support for their customer base.

Conclusion
It is fair to say that RobotMaster fits nicely into the Mastercam interface, and with that add-on you just took your work cell to the next level. One of the major Mastercam reseller In-House Solution who also hosts Mastercams forum has a very informative website for you to exploere.
I will like to thank Tyler Robertson of In-House Solution for answering all my questions.

If you are reading this, and are looking for the beginning of Robot Week go here #1 When you should make room for robots

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Robot Theme Week on cadcamstuff.com has ended
3 great companies who seems to be able to get the job done. I again will like to thank Cathy Powell of Fanuc Robotics, Kevin Nelson from Blue Technik, Nathan Naveh of Compucraft, Ltd. and Tyler Robertson of In-House Solution for answering all my questions.
If you have any experience and advice on the field of Robotics I encourage you to leave comments, let the knowledge flow free.

#1 When you should make room for robots

With a new Star Trek movie out and a lot of talk about “cloud” computing you got to feel that the future is chasing you down a dark alley in a way like only the new Terminator can. The future is about new things, so that is what we also are going to do on cadcamstuff.com
We welcome you to Theme Week!
So hold on to your socks, for the next 4 days you are going to get a doze of robots attacking you from different sides.
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We have all seen the the symphony of industrial robots welding cars on TV, a musical that lately have become very silent.
Saying the phrase “mama and papa shop”, and then throw in the word Robots and some people will lift an eye brow.
There was a time when that kinda shops where for making custom garden gates and welding up exhaust pipes, but more and more of those types of shops turned into high tech manufacturing facilities using the same machines and software as big league companies like Boeing and Ford Motor company.

Should mama and papa consider robots as there next step on the ladder? the answer is absolutely not to eliminate jobs necessarily, but to increase work flow in a high tech world.

So where do you start?
The following 3 days on cadcamstuff.com are dedicated in the name of Robotics, and each day will introduce a kick of robot power.

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Fanuc Robotics
A leading supplier of robotic automation with over 200,000 robots installed worldwide, oh and yes they use Solidworks!

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RobotWorks
Stuffed right inside your Solidworks screen, making your favorite design software into a robot controlling device.

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RobotMaster
To load or handle the product after you programed your CNC monster, no worries with this program Mastercam made full circle.

So when to consider these monsters?
From machining, welding, deburing, moving, loading/unloading, painting, scanning, assembling, anything that have the task of repeatability in it would most likely possible with Robotic power.
Does it sound like something very complicated and expensive adventure, well for a little inspiration check out Fanuc Robotics, Robotworks, RobotMaster. Hey evenebay or maybe read a couple of topics on Robot-Forum and then of course subscribe to this pages RSS feed and follow a long for the theme week on Robots on cadcamstuff.com

So make sure you set that alarm clock for tomorrow, because you will get your cup of coffee served with a bright crunchy piece off yellow Fanuc robot.

If you are awake now click #2 Fanuc Robotics Your Partner on the shop floor

MastercamX4 Live Tour…..eehhh..Seriously?

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Alright, I really want to be on top of the wave about MastercamX4 being on the door step, but I can not link from this page without commenting about this “Live Tour” thing. Looking at what in my opinion is one of the worst attempt to get excitement rolling for a new software release.

Check out Mastercams MastercamX4 Live on Tour

Seriously, friends at CNC Software did you make this video to play on the big screen at a NASCAR race, or on a TV monitor in the back at my local auto part store?
1). The music just makes you scrabble for the mute button
2). Milling, Milling and Milling, one screen shoot from Mastercam that last 1 second, no picture or video of WEDM, Router, Lathe or Art? quick screen shots of the lengthy video there is linked to would have been nice.
3). “The lights dim. The stirring crowd erupts” We pay maintenance fee’s now for this software, I am looking forward to see what I get for the money, but I am not going to camp out in front of my reseller 48 hours before the release like a 13 year teenage girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.

I understand that this might was attended to be a low budget pre-press thing, and I really do not want to offend anyone at CNC Software, but I have a hard time using words like “Professional” or “Cutting edge” about a new product release after seeing this.

It need to be a little more class and thought next time if Mastercam want to be considered a professional high end product.

Mastercam's MRU is for productive people

MRU=Most Reasonably Used, is a menu in Mastercam there as default is located vertically on the right side of the screen. You can set it up to remember the last 20 icons you have had activated.
Making a habit of remember what functions you just have used, or with a quick glance you can pick up some productivity by using this menu.

Setting up 20 functions.
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In system configurations =>Screen => MRU Options, you can make the number max 20.

20 functions activated in the menu
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A function you did not have room for in you “right click” (link) menu, and had to dig through menus is now with you 20 functions ahead.

MRU as floating menu
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As all menus in Mastercam it can easily be dragged around and either be attached horizontal, vertical or as here dropped in the graphics area.

Mastercam’s MRU is for productive people

MRU=Most Reasonably Used, is a menu in Mastercam there as default is located vertically on the right side of the screen. You can set it up to remember the last 20 icons you have had activated.
Making a habit of remember what functions you just have used, or with a quick glance you can pick up some productivity by using this menu.

Setting up 20 functions.
1
In system configurations =>Screen => MRU Options, you can make the number max 20.

20 functions activated in the menu
2
A function you did not have room for in you “right click” (link) menu, and had to dig through menus is now with you 20 functions ahead.

MRU as floating menu
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As all menus in Mastercam it can easily be dragged around and either be attached horizontal, vertical or as here dropped in the graphics area.

How to fix Mastercam views for SpacePilot PRO

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3Dconnexion do not write any patches for Mastercam it is the other way around, so with the new SpacePilot PRO on the Market less than a week you are going to find you are missing bottom, back and left view on you SpacePilot PRO. Hopefully it will be taken care of with the next Mastercam upgrade, but until then why don’t we just fix it ourselves.

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In Mastercam go to Settings => Key Mapping

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Under (1) Category select View Manipulation => (2) click bottom view => and by default (3) would be Alt+4
click (2) and check that back is Alt+3 and left is Alt+6 (all default settings)

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Push the menu button on your SpacePilot PRO and click “Custom functions”

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Click (1) New => Type (2) function name “Mastercam Bottom” => (3) Hold down “Alt” Key and pres “4” => Press (4) Save.

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Press New again and repeat last instructions for the last 2 views.

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Push the menu button on your SpacePilot PRO and press the drop down menu for the “B” button and select “Mastercam Bottom”.

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Repeat for the “L” and the “Bk” drop down menu.

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Last, Do Not Forget to Save.

So now, no need to wait for next Mastercam release, right? 😉

SpacePilot PRO is here, and you want one!

SpacePilot PRO is here, the latest creation in the 3D mouse world.
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~Don’t forget you brain needs oxygen, breath, and yeah this is way cool~.

Back in the end of 2008 I wrote a little thing that included a product from 3Dconnexion “Who dare talking about money”
As I stated in that post my experience with the Navigator from 3Dconnexion has been good, but oh boy, this thing is out of comparison. SpacePilot PRO is the new flagship from 3Dconnexion and it is defiantly not a rowboat, 3Dconnexion has created something here that for sure will get your toes tickle.

Never used a 3D Mouse?
The number one thing with a 3D mouse is the dynamic rotation, you spin your model around with ease, its like you are holding the part in you left hand while you poke at the model with your mouse. Think about how many times you press the different view buttons in a work day, with a 3D Mouse views becomes secondary.
Back in the day I became a big fan of shortcut keys in Mastercam, and yep also here SpacePilot PRO is loaded and ready with totally programmable keys, “Analyze Distance” 1 click, “Create Line” 1 click, you pick the functions you use most and with a easy interface you set it up to you personal preference, it is like all your old “hotkeys” are now in planted in your fingertips~Welcome to the future~.
But that is not all, what about email, twitter or you calendar reminder? the cool looking LCD screen will with a quick glance give you a update on what is going on outside the model you are working on, no minimizing your window to see a stupid email that there is doughnuts in the break room, that will be gone anyways because you are located in the dungeon they call the basement.
Another thing that really struck me as cool when I saw the screen shots of this model is it can be used by left handed people, something that really must have been frustrating in the past.
So if you are sitting staring at a CAD model more that a couple off hours a day I would highly recommend you to look in the direction of 3Dconnexion, like you would never agree to drive cross country only steering with you right hand, why should you limit yourself to only control your model with your regular mouse.

The real thing…….
With the review model arriving only one work day before this release post, my use have been limited to about 4 hours with the new SpacePilot PRO.
3DConnexion states it takes about 1 week to be comfortable with the SpacePilot, and there is no doubt that my daily use with the navigator makes things a lot easier. I will post another review of the SpacePilot Pro in about a week, when I got a couple of more hours under my belt, but with a few hours of use I will with out a doubt recommend this product.
A few things that stands out.
Installation:
This product is so easy installed, you are kinda surprised that something this high tech can install this smooth. And just check what this product is pre-packed with.
3dconnexion1
Dynamic Rotation speed:
You can adjust the speed of the dynamic rotation on the fly, something that really comes super handy when switching between software’s like Solidworks and Mastercam where the SpacePilot PRO is a great enhancement.
Function key in LCD screen:
Switching between Solidworks and Mastercam you like function keys to be a little different, a quick glance on the LCD screen, and you are quickly with out interruption reminded of the keys location on the SpacePilot PRO.
Quick keys:
Never realized how my left hand always seems to be resting on the Esc button on the keyboard, how nice that the SpacePilot PRO is equipped with its own Esc button right for your pinky.

Overall (for a short test) I give this product a very high score, its all about the details, and 3Dconnexion is dishing out a very high standard product here.

For more information visit 3Dconnexion

When Being a Solidworks and Mastercam user cost you money

Headline is a joke, but this is about one of those few things that makes it alright to lie to get peoples attention, kids in need….
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(I did not feel like throwing you one of those “sad” kids pictures)

This is normally the time a year I sit down and make a couple of donations, $25-$30 to the local fire department and $25-$30 on some food drive charity, but not this year, this year it is going to Orangewood Children”s foundations.
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I can only imagine in these financial hard times, organizations like Orangewood Children”s foundations are struggling because of missing donations.

Mr. Alex R. Ruiz also known as”The Solidworks Geek” started a few months back this charity donation that is named Design For the Future. For the idea alone I give thumps up, but that he actually sat all this up, is way cool!!!
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So I would like to invite you to join the cause, and it is as easy as buying a gallon of milk, credit card in hand, then click the “learn & donate” underneath and you will be taken right there.

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