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CAM Software is an Integral Part of NASA's Quest for Knowledge

A sundial made by RAMCO Machine for the historical Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, England

Mike Jezowski, Vice President of RAMCO Machine. The camera mounts produced by RAMCO Machine will support the TESS camera through the pressures of launch and the extreme temperature variations it will encounter in outer space.

The TESS satellite will be launched aboard a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

TESS four-camera system

NASA's TESS satellite

Tourists on their way to Ipswich, MA, to enjoy the area's delicious clams usually pass quickly through Rowley, a small town just a few miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. RAMCO Machine's 24,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility sits back from Rowley's main road surrounded by lush forest, and is not seen by casual travelers who never realize the positive impact of the products produced at the plant which, for more than 30 years, have enriched their daily lives and now will impact the future of space exploration.

RAMCO specializes in complex milled and turned parts that have to meet stringent tolerances and be delivered with quick turnaround. RAMCO only recently entered the world of 5-axis machining. Mike Jezowski, Vice President, RAMCO, explained, "In order to efficiently produce some of the complex parts for which we receive orders, we have had to go to 5-axis machining; we did not have a choice. We could not be competitive otherwise."

To get there, the RAMCO team purchased a DMG MORI DMU 65 FD monoBLOCK high-end mill/turn machining center. They then searched for reliable CAM software that would efficiently control all the capabilities of this sophisticated 5-axis machine.

"We selected hyperMILL because when you buy a high quality piece of equipment like the DMU 65, you need high quality CAM software with which to program it," said Jezowski. "hyperMILL was the perfect solution. I researched CAM software for several years before we bought the machine. The day we got the machine, I ordered the hyperMILL software. hyperMILL CAM software handles the complex parts that we make - I have not found anything that it cannot do."

"Setting up the post-processor for the new machine, with the help of OPEN MIND's professionals, was seamless," continued Jezowski. "Some of the parts I have machined are fairly complex, and I have had absolutely no issues with the post-processor. When I first started using the machine I got a job that required drilling a 1/8 inch hole 4-3/4 inches deep that intersected five other holes. It worked flawlessly. You just cannot do that with any other CAM package. I was impressed."

The NASA TESS Satellite Mission

NASA's TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) mission is to explore and survey nearby bright stars and to analyze planets, both smaller and larger than Earth, as they circle their host stars (just as Earth orbits its sun).

A solar powered in-space satellite equipped with four ultra-sensitive cameras will be launched aboard a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its way beyond Earth's solar system to outer space in July 2018 or sooner.

The four-camera system being developed at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory is key to the mission. It will monitor the brightness of more than 200,000 stars during the two-year mission and search for minute drops in brightness as the planets transit in front of each star.

RAMCO was contracted by MIT to fabricate the critical camera mount brackets for this mission. This job required machining Invar, a nickel-iron alloy with a low thermal expansion coefficient, allowing it to meet the rigors of launch and to compensate for the extreme temperature swings of outer space.

The mounting bracket has extremely tight tolerances. The central rib's thickness is .050" +/- .001", perpendicularity between surfaces is held to .001" and the bracket's two opposing surfaces must be in line with each other to within .001".

To cut Invar and achieve the required tolerances, Jezowski used a hyperMILL-generated 5-axis profile finish tool path. By doing this, Jezowski was able to achieve an accurate finish across each part, keeping them within these very tight tolerances.

The four-camera mounting brackets were shipped on time, and will soon be on their way to explore outer space.

CAM Solution for Efficient and Reliable Machining

hyperMILL is a modular and flexible CAM solution for 2.5-D, 3-D and 5-axis milling and mill-turning, as well machining operations such as high-speed cutting (HSC) and high-performance cutting (HPC). Other available functions include applications for milling impellers, blisks, turbine blades, tubes and tires.

Additional features and benefits include:

  • Preparing: hyperCAD-S is OPEN MIND's own CAD system tailored to the needs of CAM programming. It is designed for mastering the various challenges that arise when working with meshes, faces and solids to create precise components and tools.
  • Programming: Numerous machining strategies are available in a single user interface for users to quickly program CAM cycles, simplifying operation and increasing programming reliability.
  • Automating: Users can automatically program drill holes, pockets, variants and part families right away using the sophisticated feature and macro technology. OPEN MIND experts can also create tailored solutions to fully automate processes or connect a process to an API interface, for example.
  • Simulating: The machine simulation feature allows users to verify that processes are safe before the final NC program is created. hyperMILL VIRTUAL Machining Center allows users to create a simulation that is based on the NC code. The collision check takes place after each post-processor run - that is, directly in the generated NC program - to help ensure maximum process safety.
  • Manufacturing: When it comes to the production environment, hyperCAD-S Viewer offers an easy way of viewing CAD files. hyperMILL SHOP Viewer provides a way of visualizing important information because it allows users to view CAD/CAM data from hyperMILL. Data that is relevant to production can be visualized and simulated directly next to the machine.
  • Managing: For managing process and component data centrally, hyperMILL SHOP provides interfaces for product lifecycle management systems such as ENOVIA, Teamcenter and Windchill.

"hyperMILL helps my bottom line," said Jezowski. "I can get the part out the door, and it is right, and that makes a big difference. If you are making bad parts it is hard to meet costs. I have not found anything that the software is not able to do. Everything I have asked of it, it has done."

Jezowski has had a positive experience with the hyperMILL support team. "I really enjoy working with hyperMILL support," he said. "Everyone I have worked with is top quality. They answer all of my questions and, bottom line, get me cutting metal fast."

RAMCO takes on many interesting projects and, among other types of work, supports robotics companies and the medical manufacturing industry, and occasionally builds replacement parts for vintage Ferraris and other exotic cars. On the creative side, the RAMCO team has made sundials for The University of Notre Dame, Texas Christian University and the historic Hatfield House in England.

Randy Jezowski, along with his wife Carolyn, founded RAMCO Machine in the early 1980s. They began with a small machine shop, taking on every conceivable machining job thrown at them, and have grown the business over the years into the large Rowley facility manned by 30 employees. Randy Jezowski is still the company's President and Carolyn is Office Manager, but the day-to-day operations have been handed off to their two sons, Tim and Mike, both Vice Presidents, who work 24/7 to keep the company growing profitably.

For more information contact:

Ramco Machine, LLC

27 Turcotte Memorial Dr.

Rowley, MA 01969


OPEN MIND Technologies USA, Inc.

1492 Highland Ave., Unit 3

Needham, MA 02492

888-516-1232 / 339-225-4557

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