Types of Post Processors
There are three fundamental types of post processors for Mastercam and the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of machines can be programmed using the “generic” post processor for that machine. The term generic is a little misleading as these posts are customized to run that specific machine and controller; however, it covers the generic/universal features that are typically run and configured on those machines. These posts are included with Mastercam upon install or are readily available from QTE as your reseller. Users wanting a little more control or advanced features of a post can usually obtain this through standard post edits, which is the second fundamental type. The third type, advanced machines such as live tooling/twin spindle/dual turret lathes and 5 axis mills typically fall into the custom post realm. To properly configure the post to utilize the specific features and add-ons of the machine a post needs to be highly customized to run properly.
Why Spend the Time?
The end goal is to post and go from Mastercam to the machine. There should not be any manual editing of the G-code! The time spent to standardize and automate the process is what drives manufacturing competitiveness. If there is manual editing of G-code, time is being wasted.
Let’s walk through an example:
After programming, the code is posted and reviewed by the programmer and/or operator. This process could take typically 20 min for each program. Being honest with the amount of time this takes is very important. Typically, the program is posted, opened in the a NC editor, the programmer/operator has to remember what changes need to be made for this specific machine, make the changes, save the file, and send it to the machine. An extra step may be taken if the company has CIMCO Edit Pro to backplot the manual G-Code. One final step, is to sit and wait and hopefully realize you made all of the manual edits properly. Hopefully no scrapped parts, broken tools, or crashed spindles occur.
If the post is dialed-in, the programmer posts the code and sends it to the machine knowing with confidence it will cut as programmed.
Quantify the impact:
In the first example, the 20 min spend adds up quickly. If 10 programs/week past through this person needing manual review this absorbs three hours and twenty minutes per week! This translates to nearly 4.5 weeks of lost time! What additional projects or jobs could get completed if you had an additional 4.5 weeks of manpower?
What are your numbers? Take an honest assessment of how long it takes to start the manual edit process of your G-code to the time it is ready to load in the machine. Then multiply that by the number of programs/week taking into account the number of people that are effected by the delay.
Does this number justify the effort to dial-in your post so you can post and go?
Where to go Now?
Here at QTE we can assist with dialing in your posts processors. Typical post edits for common machines are included as part of your Mastercam maintenance. More complex machines will require a full custom post, but these are more affordable than you might think. Contact us today so we can start helping you streamline your posting process.
For more information about posts and a good read, check out this article Notes on Posts.