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Mazatrol Technical Solutions

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Submit your comments on what gives Mazatrol the advantage and how you have found a solution that increases production.

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This newsletter is being sent to CNC users as a free service to keep you up-to-date on some of the latest technology and how to get more done in less time and effort. If this has reached you in error or you are not the correct person, email us back at and let us know who the correct contact is.


CM Manufacturing increases production and gets peace of mind with a new File Management System.

“How I am going to get this file management working smoothly with my Fusion and Matrix controls? We’re wasting way too much time and effort trying to organize our Mazatrol programs and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.” That was the state of mind Sandy found himself in as he arrived at work every day.

The company Sandy works for, CM Manufacturing in Missoula, Montana, is not your typical job shop: bidding on contracts as much as doing repeat jobs. Most of CMs contracts are government-related, which require different levels of delivery. Often, the contract calls for a first article for testing and approval, and then parts are bought off at different stages.

CM Manufacturing mostly makes proprietary landing-gear parts for military aircraft. With four Mazak lathes and three Fadal machines, CM’s machinists pride themselves in doing hard turning and hard milling. This process requires removing metal from 300-M steel, heat-treating it and then hard cutting the metal to within 0.0005 tolerances.

As the shop continues to increase production, getting more contracts and making more programs, the CNC machine's controls fill to overflowing with programs that are going to be needed in the future. These programs need to be stored off the controls in a safe and easy-to-manage system. Mazaks offer several ways to save programs — such as Fusion Floppy, Matrix USB, RS232 on Fusion, and Networking to a server on both Fusion and Matrix controls.

During a training session at Mazak Corporation one of the programmers for CM Manufacturing discovered that their Mazak machines could be connected to the Network thus giving them the solution they were looking for. Although this looked like the light at the end of the tunnel, it turned out to be the legendary “train coming the other way” — a bigger problem — because they found that in order to save these programs, they would need to give them long, unwieldy file-name paths and they would still have no really easy way to manage the programs at the computer.

Sandy decided to do more homework to better identify the exact problem and research how to solve this issue. He knew that he needed to easily save programs from the Mazak to the server without having to use long folder name paths every time he wanted to save or retrieve a program. He also knew that he needed to take the programs from the server to a “Proven Parts Folder”. These files (originally saved as a four-digit number) had to be stored in an easily identified folder and easy-to-identify name and number.

With the help of one of his peers, Sandy found that there are several software solutions available that help with such scenarios. But software is not all he needed. Sandy is not a computer guy. He is not well versed in the computer field and he doesn’t really want to be. He just wants to get the job done, so it was important to find a company that would give him more than just software — he needed easy-to-use software and just as importantly he needed the help to make the whole system easy for him to understand and use.

Sandy spoke with one of the applications engineers at SolutionWare Corporation. This is where things began to take shape and truly showed him the light at the end of the tunnel. The SolutionWare applications engineer explained how the Mazak controls function and what their capabilities are. He also showed how SolutionWare’s MazaCAM Editor & Utilities support Mazaks in the Mazatrol language and interacts in a smoothly integrated and friendly way. Sandy realized he finally had a real solution.

MazaCAM enables the user to take the files stored in the server and identify the program ID as well as the number. From there, functions can be created so that a couple of icons can transfer programs from the server (without bothering the user with the lengthy path) to new folders that are automatically generated as needed. The Mazatrol programs can be viewed on a PC in Sandy’s office, and can be easily identified, transferred, and modified.

This method of storing programs makes it easy so that your average-Joe can file and retrieve those valuable programs that are one of the assets of CM Manufacturing. Sandy is now using his new-found solution every day. “The biggest thing MazaCAM did for me was to make it easy to put part number names on folders, storing my files within those folders and a Mazatrol Editor to help modify my programs.” Problem solved.

CM Manufacturing has now entered a new era in the way they do things at their shop. Bottom line: software is valuable as long as it makes things better and easier in one’s life. MazaCAM did just that for Sandy and company.


Call for details: 408.249.1529 main 
 toll-free in the USA

Get Trained!

Come to training at SolutionWare’s training facility. Take advantage of the free training that comes with every MazaCAM and GeoPath package. Our instructors have taught everyone from inexperienced to very experienced users. At the end of the class you will be cutting parts faster and more efficiently. Here is what one trainee had to say; “The class instructor helped me a lot. He is extraordinarily knowledgeable about the software, and has the heart of a teacher, so you really have a good understanding when you’re done.”

– BF, Memphis, TN

To sign up for training, call: 408.249.1529



Tips on How to Save Set-Up Time &
Get More Jobs Done In Less Time

One of the big production bottlenecks for many shops is the time it takes to set up the machine for the job. While set-up is a necessary action for any job, there are some things one can do to reduce the amount of time it takes, and thus get more jobs done in less time, and cut delivery times. If your machine is not cutting parts right now, you are not making money right now!

How much time is spent on set-up time in your shop? For example, I went and looked at a shop to review this specific point, and we found they were typically spending from 4 hours to 1.5 days to set up a job – and with short-run jobs that then only took a few hours to run the parts, you can see how much saving set-up time would multiply into significant improvements in number of parts cut and thus more profitability!

One of the big time-absorbing tasks is setting up the tools for the job. In many cases, there are a certain set of tools that could be used on many jobs you run. By using the same group of standard tools, you can leave them in the machine from job to job and thus save the time of setting up those tools. Sure, each job might also need tools that are not in the standard group, but every tool you don’t have to set up (because it is left set up from job to job) saves you time. How many tools could you standardize on and thus save time in this manner?

At first one might think this does not work because the ideal tool for one job is rarely the same as the ideal tool for another job. However, in many cases you could use a similar tool even if not perfectly ideal -- the real question to calculate profitability is how much machining time will you save by switching out tools versus the cost of setting up the tools. In many cases, especially for short-runs, the savings by not spending the set-up time far outweighs the number of seconds of machine-time saved by using a slightly more optimum tool.

Where do you start?

  1. Make a simple list of the tools you know could be used on many jobs that come through your shop. For typical milling, this could include for example a ¼- and ½-inch end-mill, a certain spot-drill, certain taps and corresponding tap-drills, and maybe a few drills that are used on a lot of parts.

  2. Now type that list up with an exact specification – is it carbide or HSS? Is it 2-flute or 4? Is it stubby length or long? etc.

  3. Now assign each of those standard tools a standard name. On a Mazak mill, these would be called something like “E-MILL .25A” – write that name on the list.

  4. Print that list out and give it to all the programmers, set-up people and machinists working on these CNCs. See if anyone has any further feedback, and get agreement that this is going to be the standard list of tools that stay in each CNC all the time.

  5. Post it by each programming station so it is right at hand when making a program.

In the real world, often you will find the list is always expanding and no one has the time to make the full complete list. But even just getting a short list done will start saving time immediately. Don’t worry about getting the list perfect, just get it started on the most common tools used.

If you would like the computer to make your job even easier, here are a few of the many ways that MazaCAM can help:
  • MazaCAM has a function to print out the list of tools used within a program. By using this function on a number of your programs, you can start seeing what tools you use over and over from job to job.

  • Once you start standardizing tool-names, you might find that old programs use other tool-names that should be changed to your now standardized names. MazaCAM now makes this easy with a function to replace a given tool-name to a different name throughout the entire program with one command. (The feature can even let you select from a Mazak’s Tool-Data, to make this even easier.)

  • MazaCAM offers a module that includes a way for you to enter all your tools into a database, and thus help you keep track of your tools, look them up and list them automatically on tool-sheets/set-up sheets, etc.

Parting thought for the day: In the real world, what determines value becomes the answer to the ultimate questions:
  • “How much time and money will it save me?” or

  • “How much more time and money will it make me?”, and

  • “Does it work?”

Put ideas to test in the real world, not in the world of competing ideas.

Call for details:
888.322.3226 toll-free in the USA

Copyright © 2010 by SolutionWare Corporation.  All rights reserved.


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Copyright © 2011 by SolutionWare Corporation.  All rights reserved.  Geopath and MazaCAM are trademarks owned by Basic NC Inc.  Mazak and Mazatrol are trademarks owned by Yamazaki Mazak Corporation.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.