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  • Writer's pictureTyler Boni

Empowering Employees with CAD/CAM Software Leads Amada Tool America to Greatly Improved Efficiency

cnc mill machining hemming punch
Machining a 1-mm chamfer on both sides of a section of an Amada S Stocker ATC Hemming Punch.

Across the manufacturing industry, companies are trying to recoup losses and drive down costs.

Amada Tool America Inc. conquered cost reduction by unlocking the potential of its CAM

software through employee-led process improvements. As a result, production cycle times were

cut in half and the tooling manufacturer became more agile to quickly adapt to new challenges.

Located in Batavia, N.Y., Amada Tool America was established in 1965, then acquired in 1990 by

Amada Co. (Isehara-Shi, Japan). The company develops, manufactures, and services metal[1]processing equipment and machine tools. It provides both standard and special tooling for Amada’s turret punch press and press brake machines within the United States. Amada Tool

America employs 80 people and is housed in a 75,000-sq-ft [6,968-sq-m] facility.

Parts are produced from a range of steels and machined on grinders, mills, lathes, band saws,

and electrical discharge machines. The company operates as a flow shop, manufacturing a

standard set of tools for each station size on Amada machines. Unlike in a typical flow shop

process, however, each part can have a high number of variations that require different setups

and changeovers. Such product diversity added complexity for operators, who often switch

between parts and operations.

The challenge provided an opportunity to streamline the production process. Amada Tool

America expanded its programming capabilities by purchasing Mastercam CAD/CAM software

from Tolland, Conn.-based CNC Software LLC. The software standardized equipment setups with

an individual programming file saved for each product. Incorporating barcode scanners,

operators scanned part numbers to easily access data files and efficiently start production.

“For me, Mastercam is a tool,” said Ricky Streiff, an Amada programmer. “A craftsman without his

tools is nothing; and a tool without a craftsman is nothing as well. So, once you have this tool and

this ability, it’s easy to think of other ways to use it.”

For initial training, Amada sent employees to Mastercam Reseller OptiPro Systems in Ontario,

N.Y., where classes covered lathe, milling, and 3D milling. Employees also used online resources

to learn more about the software’s functionality. With the training, Streiff said, operators “were

making parts right off the bat, creating programs, saving time.”

After the integration, Amada began reviewing programming files to update settings for optimal

machining. Toolpaths and equipment settings were improved with more efficient options, with

the average cycle time halved.

cnc milling with coolant
Dynamic milling the reliefs for an AMADA S Stocker Gooseneck Punch.

“The toolpaths were much more intuitive,” Streiff explained. “It was very easy to make new

programs with less air-cutting and unnecessary tool engagement, like plunging and retract


The most significant improvement involved a tool manufactured for the Amada HRB series

Automatic Tool Changer (ATC). Using a four-axis mill outfitted with a trunnion table, the parts

were mounted on a fixture plate. Machining was completed on the top and back, with a slot providing access to the latter. Initially, the part had a run time of 90 minutes—plus a manual

deburring operation of 20 minutes. After programming updates, the total cycle time was slashed

to 35 minutes, with deburring occurring in the machine.

Overall savings included a:

• 50 percent reduction in cycle time alone

• 93 percent reduction in combined cycle time/deburring

• 140 percent reduction in tooling cost per part.

To achieve the results, Streiff streamlined the machining operation by incorporating high-speed

toolpaths for deburring and chamfering. The dynamic milling toolpath followed by a 3D-contour

toolpath enabled the same bull end mill to rough out a slot then ramp up at an angle, creating

the desired chamfered edge. The 3D toolpaths also applied a radius to holes located on an

incline of the part surface.

In both examples, the need for manual finishing was eliminated, productivity increased, and

surface finish quality improved. In most cases, tool life quadrupled due to reduced cycle time

and force loads, according to Streiff. The software’s Dynamic Motion technology continually

adjusted the cutting motion of the tool to maintain constant chip thickness. Since cutting forces

were controlled, the amount of heat generated and vibrations were reduced, despite some of

the parts having lighter clamping methods with higher vibration potential.

The entire tool length was engaged, yielding greater material removal with less tool wear. To

avoid costly collision errors, simulation was used to validate tight tolerances. The mill tooling had

limited clearance to access the back of parts through the slot, working with as little as one

millimeter between the tool body and machine fixturing. With limited visibility due to the size of

the machine, Streiff completed verification and any necessary modifications from his desk.

“I was able to see everything right on the computer screen,” Streiff said, noting he could clearly

see the process and check on tooling clearance. “If it wasn’t going to clear, I knew how much

farther I had to extend my tool to make it clear.”

Navigating Tight Spots

Facing another challenge, Amada manufactures varying width sectionalized tooling for the HRB

press brake on a three-axis mill with a Fanuc controller. To finish the specified width, both left

and right sides of the segment required milling and grinding. The parts were finished by hand[1]filing a 1-mm chamfer. Each part consisted of either six or 12 edges, taking an average of three to five minutes per edge to finish.

The standard right-angle head (RAH) required manual indexing to a specific angle, so it would be

necessary to purchase two tools, one for each side, at a cost of about $10,000 per piece. While

searching for a more cost-effective option, Streiff found the Titespot Angle Head (Eltool Corp.,

Mansfield, Ohio), a coolant-driven indexable right-angle head. Because spindle rotation was not

required to power the head, the spindle acted as an indexer and enabled the single head access

to both sides of the long part.

To capitalize on the Titespot Angle Head benefits, Amada had to determine how to program it on

the Fanuc controller, which was limited to three-axis machine operations. A normal tool needs a

length and diameter offset. In this instance, the RAH needed the length, diameter of the tool, and

distance from the tip of the tool to the center of the spindle.

To eliminate the problem of an extra offset and cutter compensation issues, Streiff programmed

the toolpath in Mastercam using an aggregate head, and used computer compensation in the

toolpath settings to allow Mastercam to handle the chamfer tool’s diameter compensation. Then

he used the software to add a Fanuc common variable to every X move in the program. This

variable is calculated through a sub-program in the machine and considers the chamfer tool’s

length from spindle centerline and the desired part width, then adds it to the Mastercam

programmed X value. This method, in conjunction with the quick response code scanners,

allowed Streiff and his team to use one Mastercam program to run any of their part widths.

A post creation was necessary to transfer the data files to the Fanuc controller. At Streiff’s

request, the OptiPro team sent him post-writing documentation. Streiff was able to use the

information, along with online forums, to modify an existing post to successfully output the

desired code. Overall, the machine cycle time was reduced to 1 minute with minimal manual

deburring of 10 seconds. No additional machine modifications were required.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” Streiff beamed, adding it’s like taking a three-axis standard

Fanuc-controlled machine and transforming it into a 3+1 with the addition of a tool, some

coding, and Mastercam posts.

Parts, Programming & People

Inspired by the process improvements for the right-angle head, Streiff decided to manipulate the

planes and axis orientations for the Amada RS Techster Grinding machine, which is used for

grinding, surface grinding, and profile grinding to create V-shaped angles and radii. As Amada

works with upwards of 30 part profiles, the manufacturer orders the wheels in blanks and

machines them with a single-point diamond. Each time the operator replaces a worn-out wheel,

the G-code program for the equipment could take as long as 30 hours to rough in the preferred


Addressing the inefficiency, Streiff manipulated the planes in the software, aligning the axes in

the right direction to correlate to the machine’s X, Y, and W axes. With the Dynamic Roughing

toolpath, the cycle time was cut from 30 hours to six hours.

“The supplied program was doing the whole profile by cutting air most of the time, whereas

dynamic roughing obviously is not cutting air,” Streiff explained. “It’s going right to the meat of

the cut.”

Streiff will continue to use his programming knowledge to look for more opportunities for

improvement within the company’s existing operations and any new processes. Like many

manufacturers today, Amada has a staff shortage. Once the company fills open positions, Streiff

indicated he will have the capability to utilize Mastercam more frequently and find even more

benefits. Investing in the younger generation and potential future employees, Amada is involved

with local education. It is a sponsor of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, also known as

BOCES, which is a technical and trade school with a campus in Batavia, N.Y. The manufacturer

supports the school by attending events, facilitating tours, and partnering with the co-op

program. In fact, Streiff is a graduate of the BOCES co-op program and Amada Tool America’s

apprenticeship program.

mastercam toolpath simulation screenshot
Mastercam Simulation of a 3D Contour toolpath chamfering an angled edge.

As a tool manufacturer, Amada has many tools at its disposal, including CAD/CAM software and

well-trained employees. However, adaptability was only actualized when both synergized


“One of the huge points of all these projects was that I had this tool in my bag,” Streiff attested.

“Because I had that tool and knew how to use it, I had full confidence I could make process

improvements before I even turned the computer on.”

For more information about Amada Tool America visit or call 585-344-3900. For

more information about CNC Software visit or call 800-228-2877.



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