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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

Mastercam Swiss Expert: Programming for Highly Precise Turned Parts

February 28th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe

When it comes to machining, Swiss-style is quite a different animal because of the degree of precision and pace the process it is expected to maintain. Swiss-style lathes and turning centers provide extreme accuracy, capable of holding tolerances as small as ten thousandths of an inch.

A Swiss-style lathe holds the workpiece with both a collet and a guide bushing and is almost always used under CNC control. The collet sits behind the guide bushing, and the cutting tools are located in front of the guide bushing, holding stationary on the Z axis. To cut lengthwise along a part, the tools move in and the material itself moves back and forth along the Z axis. This allows all the work to be done on the material near the guide bushing where it is more rigid with little chance of deflection or vibration.

Swiss-style lathes and turning center are very efficient, as these machines are capable of fast cycle times, producing simple parts in one cycle with no need for a second machine to finish the part with secondary operations. This makes the Swiss style ideal for large production runs of small-diameter parts.

Additionally, as many Swiss lathes incorporate a secondary spindle, or sub-spindle, they also incorporate “live” tooling. Live tools are rotary cutting tools that are powered by a small motor independent of the spindle motor(s). Live tools increase the intricacy of components that can be manufactured by a Swiss lathe.

Spatial Corp. recently joined CNC Software Inc. in announcing that the 3D ACIS Modeler and 3D InterOp power the latest release of Mastercam Swiss Expert 2012. Designed to control a variety of Swiss-style NC machines, Mastercam Swiss Expert is used in a range of applications such as watch-making, medical device, dental, automotive, and electronics companies — all known for requiring extremely small, but very precise parts.

Mastercam Swiss Expert is a solids-based CNC software that employs the 3D ACIS Modeler from Spatial Corp to provide the component technology as its underlying modeling kernel. In addition, it leverages 3D InterOp for data interoperability and support for standard and native CAD file formats including SAT, IGES, STEP, Parasolid, Creo, NX, SolidWorks, CATIA V4, and CATIA V5. By leveraging Spatial for both 3D geometric modeling and data reuse, CNC Software is able to focus on what it does best — the specific requirements of its CAM users and a streamlined programming method from tool paths to synchronization to simulation.

Mastercam Swiss Expert 2012 includes features to simplify synchronization, including the ability to view all machining parameters and modify them on the fly, expand and contract the timeline for viewing the part process, and colors that help identify which tool paths belong to which tool group.

To improve user productivity and to reduce cost, Mastercam Swiss Expert 2012 lets users simulate projects on a virtual machine before it reaches the shop floor. This full simulation includes every moving component of a machine, including material, main and sub spindles, all tool holders, and part handling devices. Accurate machine models provide detailed representation of machining processes. Automatic collision detection enables users to catch collisions in a virtual environment instead of damaging expensive equipment.

I’m quite aware that Swiss-style machining is pretty specialized, and I’m also aware that there are some pundits (and customers) who aren’t exactly enamored with how CNC Software has continued to develop and support some of the Mastercam products. However, Swiss-style machining is a fascinating arm of manufacturing that produces some highly precise parts that are vital as all types of mechanical products continue to downsize, and CNC Software seems to be doing its customers right in this specialized endeavor.

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