Prigel Machine

“I can’t imagine doing some of the jobs that we do without good quality CAM software. I have not yet found anything that I can’t do in Mastercam. I can’t see living without it at this point.” Brian Prigel, Owner, Prigel Machine

Challenge

To make a smooth and rapid transition from manual CNC programming to computer automated manufacturing.

Solution

Benefits

  • Mastercam is easy to learn and use.
  • Maintenance license provides free upgrades.
  • Advanced high-speed toolpaths reduce machine cycles and tool wear.
  • Power programming to reduce prototype lead times.

Project Details

After many years of working as a lead technical specialist supporting injection molding for wind-surfing products, Brian Prigel decides to pursue his own dream—running a small machine shop.

Luck is on his side. A nearby start-up company that is producing unmanned aviation systems (drones) needs a person with Prigel’s skill sets and ready availability. This customer is joined by others who need parts for the cameras and avionics used by drones, for ground support equipment—such things as catapults and “skyhooks”—as well as matched compression molds for making carbon fiber composites in aviation and other advanced applications.

Soon the company is purchasing CNC equipment, which Prigel and his staff program manually at first, and then with inexpensive CAM software with limited feature sets. Prigel says, “I hired a production manager and he convinces me that I need to purchase Mastercam to keep pace with the volume and growing complexity of the parts customers are sending us. I did it and we haven’t looked back.”

The company now has 11 CNC spindles that are programmed with four seats of Mastercam. Prigel himself is one of the three programmers. A tenacious self-learner, he soon discovers where everything is in the program. Now he can’t see how his company can possibly get along without it.

Prigel Machine has Maintenance licenses for Mastercam, which entitles them to free upgrades and unlimited support. So the Mastercam users at Prigel are always learning about new ways to use the program to accomplish manufacturing objectives more efficiently. These include:

Precise Tool Control: Without total control of tool movements it is difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill the design intent for many of the unique parts Prigel Machine’s customers send their way.

High -Speed 3D Toolpaths: An array of 3D high-speed toolpaths that provide more tool engagement with a shallower depth of cut to improve machine cycles and reduce tool wear. They allow the company to machine very complex parts with as few as four operations.

Power Programming: About one-quarter to a third of the jobs flowing through the shop are prototypes. These parts frequently require complex programming and result in short runs. So there is little margin for error before the profit margin on a job can be lost completely.

Computer Simulation: Backplot and Verify are used to automatically determine that the program will run on the machine tool without crashing and that it will indeed remove a sufficient amount of material to meet specifications.

Steady growth requires that more of Prigel’s and his production manager’s time are devoted to activities other than programming parts. This means that promising career opportunities for individuals with Mastercam programming skills will be opening up at Prigel Machine.



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