Founded in Massachusetts in 1983, CNC Software, Inc. is one of the oldest developers of PC-based computer-aided design / computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software. They are one of the first to introduce CAD/CAM software designed for both machinists and engineers. Mastercam, CNC Software’s main product, started as a 2D CAM system with CAD tools that let machinists design virtual parts on a computer screen and also guided computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine tools in the manufacture of parts. Since then, Mastercam has grown into the most widely used CAD/CAM package in the world. CNC Software, Inc. is now located in Tolland, Connecticut.
Mastercam’s comprehensive set of predefined toolpaths—including contour, drill, pocketing, face, peel mill, engraving, surface high speed, advanced multiaxis, and many more—enable machinists to cut parts efficiently and accurately. Mastercam users can create and cut parts using one of many supplied machine and control definitions, or they can use Mastercam’s advanced tools to create their own customized definitions.
Mastercam also offers a level of flexibility that allows the integration of 3rd party applications, called C-hooks, to address unique machine or process specific scenarios.
Mastercam's name is a double entendre: it implies mastery of CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), which involves today's latest machine tool control technology; and it simultaneously pays homage to yesterday's machine tool control technology by echoing the older term master cam, which referred to the main cam or model that a tracer followed in order to control the movements of a mechanically automated machine tool.
Mastercam product levels
With the release of Mastercam X (10), the application became a true Windows-based application, as opposed to one ported over from DOS. It also represented a fundamental shift in the way the application was configured. Mastercam X2 provided many enhancements over the previous version. Mastercam supports many types of machines, each with a choice of levels of functionality, as well as offers optional add-ins for solid modeling, 4-axis machining, and 5-axis machining. The following list describes the Mastercam product levels:
- Design—3D wireframe geometry creation, dimensioning, importing and exporting of non-Mastercam CAD files (such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Inventor, Parasolid, etc.).
- Mill Entry—Includes Design, plus various toolpaths (top construction and tool planes only), posting, backplot, verify.
- Mill, Level 1—Includes Mill Entry, plus surface creation, many additional toolpaths (for all construction and tool planes), highfeed machining, toolpath editor, toolpath transforms, stock definition.
- Mill, Level 2—Includes Mill, Level 1, plus additional toolpaths, toolpath projection, surface rough and finish machining, surface pocketing, containment boundaries, check surfaces.
- Mill, Level 3—Includes Mill, Level 2, plus 5-axis wireframe toolpaths, more powerful surface rough and finish machining, multiaxis toolpaths.
- 5-Axis add-on—5-Axis roughing, finishing, flowline multisurface, contour, depth cuts, drilling, advanced gouge checking.
- Lathe Entry—3D wireframe geometry creation, dimensioning, importing and exporting of non-Mastercam CAD files (such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Inventor, Parasolid, etc.), various toolpaths, backplot, posting.
- Lathe, Level 1—Includes Lathe Entry, plus surface creation, C-axis toolpaths, stock definition, stock view utility.
- Router Entry—3D wireframe geometry creation, dimensioning, importing and exporting of non-Mastercam CAD files (such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Inventor, Parasolid, etc.), various toolpaths (top construction and tool planes only), toolpath transformation in top plane, backplot, verify, posting.
- Router—Includes Router Entry, plus surface creation, rectangular geometry nesting, additional toolpaths (for all construction and tool planes), highfeed machining, toolpath editor, full toolpath transformations, stock definition.
- Router Plus—Includes Router, plus additional toolpaths, toolpath projection, surface rough and finish machining, surface pocketing, containment boundaries, check surfaces.
- Router Pro—Includes Router Plus, plus True Shape geometry nesting, 5-axis toolpath functionality, multiple surface rough and finish machining, multiaxis toolpaths, toolpath nesting.
- Wire—2D and 3D geometry creation, dimensioning, various 2-axis and 4-axis wirepaths, customizable power libraries, tabs.
- Art—Quick 3D design, 2D outlines into 3D shapes, shape blending, conversion of 2D artwork into machinable geometry, plus exclusive fast toolpaths, rough and finish strategies, on-screen part cutting.
The Router products are targeted to the woodworking industries but are virtually identical to the Mill line.