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MastercamX4 Live Tour…..eehhh..Seriously?

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.

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….
(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.
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!!!

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.


Play-Good Part3, Stock and Chain it


Part 1, Created work origin and got the Solidworks file imported into Mastercam.

Part 2, Created solid into workable geometry and adding things like corner radiuses.

Part 3, At this point we are ready to pick our machine, and setup stock information for verify and throw toolpaths on our Lego block.
We are choosing a Vertical Machining center manufactured by Haas Automation in California, VF-3 is model size.
Note, each Machine definition should be customized for the specific machines available on the shop floor.
With the machine picked the operation manager becomes functional, and in the Machine Group Properties we have access to Tool Settings and stock setup.
I typed in the actually stock size in the X-Y-Z boxes placed at dimension locations, and picked same work origin corner as we sat in Solidworks, also added 0.05″ to X and Y origin so there would be some stock to clean up in that corner.
Yellow solid represent our stock.

Just going to stop for a second and touch of a couple of technical questions that could arise.
Why Vertical Machining Center and not 4 axis Horizontal? What kinda Material are we cutting? Highspeed cutters or solid carbide? 2, 3, 4 flutes? Surface Feed, Chip per tooth.
If you want to dick deeper into those questions please do not hesitate and leave a comment, but at this point I’m sure if anyone made it this far, and to much text might just scare them away, so until then I will wing it with out much explanation (Now the ball is in your court, kinda like a dare).

Picking a standard “Contour” toolpath to mill the outside of the block to size, Note that the arrow that indicates the start-point of the path is on the 0.01″ chamfer, the endmill will leave a small mark on entry so we are placing this the least critical place.

Setting things like cutting depth can be be plugged in on the keyboard or geometry can be picked with a mouse click, here we also set parameters for lead in/lead out and what side of our geometry the cutter should be on.

For the “Pocket” toolpath we are picking our 2 modified inside contours and the 2 round posts, this will let Mastercam know that those are islands.

Running the 2 toolpath in verify gives a good picture on what is going to happen in the machine. Next step will be stepping down the center wall by 0.2″ and run a chamfer tool to break the top edge on the outside and inside of the part.

Part 4, we will do the opposite side of our Lego block, stay tuned……

Play-Good Part2, Modify the part


So we got the part into Mastercam and now need to figure out how we want to go about machining this block. As I am sure you noticed I flipped the block upside down from how it was in Solidworks, not just because I am not sure you would have recognized that it was a Lego block, but also because it is going to be easier staging the block for second operation using parallels in a vise to rest the block on, and the thin wall attached to the center silo is going to prevent the block from collapsing from the pressure of the vise.
I can almost hear the people at CNC Software chanting FBM (feature based machining) but sorry, we are going to do this “old school”.
Lets turn this solid model into good old geometry, oh and by the way, Mastercam is layer oriented big time, use them.
To turn our solid model into lines and arcs we are going to use
Create=>Curve=>Curve on All Edges.
Then choose Solid Selection.solid-boxAnd make sure only Select Body is shadedshaded-solid-box

Then turn the 1st layer of our solid off, and we got workable geometry.
Lets just take one moment and talk about colors, shall we? If you work all by yourself I can totally see why you would choose colors in regards to what mood you are in that day, but if other people are touching your work on a regular basis, a little color coordination should not only be a word of women magazines. We use 3 rule colors, blue = is stock or somewhat irrelevant color, green = is the color we work with for chaining purposes and red = is the color of special attention like added corner rads, also dimensions and notes are red.
Actually Mastercam has a pretty cool function in X3 where you can set up special colors for special attributes.
Settings=>Configurations=>CAD Settings=>
But back to our block, this solid was thought of as a molded object, not machined and let us just make one thing clear……… sharp internal corners, ok? big $$$ to make.
Analyzing our male island 1/4 internal corner rads should work
You might notice that I made the outer boundary green at the top of the part, but the pocket section green at the bottom, reason for this is that I can easily make corner rads for the 2 center fins, and when it comes to selecting depth for our cutter, Mastercam don’t care where our chain is in “Z”.
I also added 0.01 corner break on the 4 outside corners, just so we do not get a knife edge we would need to hand work later, that kind of stuff is what is going to make the operator like or hate you.
Last thing to do for operation 1 would be to make the inside of the silos green, we are just going to drill those out 1/2 size.
Part 3 will be choosing machine and setting up stock……

Play-Good Part1, Solidworks into Mastercam

I am excited about this new series of blog post named Play-Good, that was inspired by Hol’s comment in regards to take a part from Solidworks and send it through Mastercam.
I felt the model needed to be some kinda fun, and who don’t like LEGO (LEg GOdt(Meaning Play-Good)) Thanks to Ringenbach Lionel and 3D ContentCentral, ZIP and BAM there is a model.

The on the side and the scaling is my work, but there is a purpose with this, felt this was a good opportunity to throw something about letters and engraving in the mix.

Solidworks into Mastercam:
We are going to export our Solidworks file as a Parasolid(.X_B is binary where .X_T is text what results in bigger file sizes, you get the choice to choose when saving in Mastercam(Parasolid is by the way owned Siemens who are big competition to both Solidworks and Mastercam, funny))
Mastercam does have to choice to import Solidworks directly, but there is some issues with missing features when importing assembly files, a risk we can not take.

Exporting as Parasolid has another advantage, believe it or not but Mastercam and Solidworks disagrees when it comes to views( Just can’t be easy), what is front in one is top in the other, and as a lot of combo Solidworks/Mastercam users, I do not have the Solid option in Mastercam (because I have Solidworks, duh!!) and therefor can not move the part itself, but luckily when exporting as a Parasolid file you can control this by setting a reference coordinate system in Solidworks. (We are later going to use “Work Coodinate System” in Mastercam to do the same)

Then when exporting the file we just need to make sure we choose the custom coordinate systems in the options tap when saving as Parasolid.

Now next step is just open our Parasolid file in Mastercam, and it is already placed the way we want it for 1st Operation.

1st. step is complete, next step is preparing the model for toolpaths but that is Part2, Stay tuned…..

Pick your Editor and Post for Mastercam

When exploring a dark cave in real life a couple off items should be 1st. on your list, like a hard hat and a flashlight. When beginning exploring the dark caves of Mastercam Post modification a editor and the right Post Processor is the place to start.

You will have to use some kind of editor to modify the actual post processor, more or less anyone will do. I prefer PFE32 c:\mcamx\common\editors\pfe
no matter which editor you choose I would recommend you place a shortcut on your desktop.

Post Processor
In your c:\mcamx folder you will find folders for mill, lathe, wire and router, each of these folders contain a sub folder that is called “post”, this is where you find the post processor selection Mastercam comes with. However I will recommend that you go to Canadian reseller In-House solution and download there mpmaster post This post is based on CNC Softwares Mpfan post with additional features, this is the post I will be using here on
Save the zip file and extract it to a folder on your desktop called “Mpmaster”. In the zip file you will find a PST file (Post Processor) a control file and one machine definition for horizontal and one for vertical machining center.
Start out by making a copy of the PST file, and name it Mpmaster-*your machine name*-*your name*.pst, by adding your name in the end there is a smaller risk for someone messing with your post by mistake.
Rule number 1 when doing Post Modification is backup backup backup, sometimes you end up going down the wrong tunnel and it is quicker recovery by throwing out 20min work and go back to last saved backup.
In Mastercam go Settings=> Machine Definition Manager and load the MMD file you extracted from In-House Solution.
In Mastercam go Settings=> Control Definition Manager and open up the control file you extracted from In-House Solution.

Click Post Processor in upper left corner and pick your downloaded Mpmaster post using “Add files” and click the “green” check mark.


In the drop down menu pick you post and hit the save icon in upper left corner.

Now we need to set this thing up so we actually can pick the machine.
Go Machine Type=>Mill=>Manage list

In the upper left corner find you directory for the Mpmaster and choose you machine definition, and “Add” it to your Machine Definition Menu Items.

Now we should actually be ready to start thinking about posting and debugging, stay tuned………