Mastercam Partners with Haas on Manufacturing Exhibit

Companies created a waterwheel display for the American Precision Museum demonstrating how running water was turned into power to drive the building.  


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Recreated waterwheel at American Precision Museum

Recreated waterwheel at American Precision Museum

CNC Software Inc. (developers of Mastercam, a leading CAD/CAM software) partnered with the American Precision Museum (APM) and Haas Automation to recreate a waterwheel display in the museum demonstrating how running water was turned into power to drive the building.

APM combines the atmosphere of an original 19th-century, water-powered manufacturing facility with a world-class collection of historic machines. It explores industrial history in the context of innovation, creative problem solving and the impact of precision manufacturing on American history and culture. The APM factory was first powered by a great waterwheel, located in the basement, which drove a drum that carried belts up through the ceiling to the overhead line shafts on the factory floor. Those shafts turned smaller belts that powered the machines.

To recreate the waterwheel, the Applications Engineers at CNC Software Inc. designed a functional scaled-down version of APM’s original waterwheel. To keep it as realistic as possible, the model design was inspired by a 2009 study of the original factory and wheel. The assembly was designed in Mastercam for Solidworks and then programmed and machined using Mastercam. Most of the assembly was made from ¾" prefinished plywood and was machined down on a 3-axis router. The mechanical components are aluminum and steel, and machined on a Haas VF2 CNC. The scaled-down version has a working drive gear assembly and, for display purposes, is not powered by water, but instead uses a small pellet stove gear motor.

“CNC Software is proud to partner with the American Precision Museum. APM is helping to tell the story of how mass production changed the world and shaped America,” says Meghan West, CEO of CNC Software. “Exhibits like this are intended to spark imaginations and inspire younger generations to get involved with manufacturing. We are 100% behind that.”

This project expands on the mission of the national historic landmark. “We are so thrilled that HFO Trident, Haas, Mastercam and the American Precision Museum have found this way to partner and build such a dynamic project. Our organizations are committed to growth through education, sparking awareness of careers in manufacturing and good old American ingenuity,” says Toni Neary, director of education for the Morris Group – Haas Division. “This waterwheel is the culmination of those passions. The team at Mastercam has worked to create a fun and exciting way to discuss the history of the museum and integrated modern manufacturing technologies to replicate parts of our history.”

The finished project was unveiled Oct. 2, which was Manufacturing Day 2020. “Using advanced manufacturing methods to recreate an 1846 device is a great way for us to demonstrate how manufacturing continues to evolve,” says Steve Dalessio, executive director of APM. “We’re so grateful to Mastercam for creating this model for us, because our education program will be able to use the exhibit to link science, history and manufacturing.”