Post-to-Post: ICAM’s Makino MAG3 Post-Processor vs the Competition

Twin-turbo V8. 600 Horsepower. Mountains of torque. But without quality racing tires, you’re not putting the power to the road and you’re certainly not winning any races. Much the same can be said about NC machine tools: All that power, precision & kinematic range is wasted if your post-processor wasn’t designed to handle it. But just how much of a difference can a quality post make? One of our users, an Aerospace manufacturer in the Midwest, compared our Makino MAG3 post-processor for Mastercam to a competing solution, measuring part quality & cycle time.

An even playing field

In order to get a fair comparison between both posts, the manufacturer sought to even out anything that would skew results. They posted the same Mastercam file and ran their MAG3 at 100% feed rate with the same options enabled for each run. To evaluate the finish closely, they even ran a hybird part program, composed of code from both the ICAM post and the competition’s. And the results may surprise you.

A better finish means less work down the road

As any high-precision aerospace shop can tell you, the quality control requirements for aerospace components are some of the strictest of any industry. Their initial post delivered a repeating ripple pattern when cutting along a five-axis swarf cut on the outside of the part, as you can see on the part on the bottom of the image below. This meant having to blend the ripples during the deburring process in order to meet surface finish requirements, increasing labor costs and adding unnecessary steps to their process.

Turn your attention to the part above it and you’ll see how dramatic the difference is. While the top 1/2″ section of this piece was cut using our competitor’s post, the rest was cut using ours. The custom ICAM post-processor was able to produce clean, smooth motions from the very same Mastercam tool-paths that created ripples with the original post.

Looking at the inside corners of the piece, you can see similar results. On the left, the competition’s post create deep rippling along the surface, while the ICAM post-processor left a surface quality that more than met requirements. Note that the top 1/2″ of the part on the right was cut using our competitor’s post. By improving the quality of the finish as it comes off the machine, they were able to eliminate the extra blending step, reducing the cost of manufacturing the part. But the savings don’t end there…

Smarter post, faster cutting

The last step of this manufacturer’s comparison came in the form of a cycle time test. Without any modification to the Mastercam toolpaths, the G-Code output by our post-processor not only dramatically improved finish quality, but also reduced overall cycle time from 5 minutes and 12 seconds with the original post, down to 4 minutes and 51 seconds with the ICAM post-processor. For a shop running 24/7 operations, this 6% saving can represent around 500 hours of additional machining time a year.

The Tip of the Time-Saving Iceberg

So there you have it. A clear, head-to-head look at how much you can be saving with an ICAM post-processor. But that’s just the beginning. Those looking for even more savings in programming and cycle time can turn to our SmartPACK tool-path and feed-rate optimization suite or step up to the complete Adaptive Post-Processing solution which combines the post, simulation and optimization solution into a single step process.
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