A father and son team from Herefordshire has developed a software platform that can change the way that designers and engineers make products.
Ryland and Michael Johnson combined their talents in manufacturing and software engineering to create CloudMilling, which they claim is industry’s first and only cloud-native computer aided manufacturing (CAM) solution. The duo’s efforts attracted the interest of some of the sector’s biggest solution providers before their company was recently acquired by US-based industrial software company PTC.
‘CloudMilling has been a real labour of love and it has taken more than ten years to get to where we are today,’ explained Michael, who studied at Loughborough University. Michael has achieved his success despite suffering severe disabilities due to complications during his birth. ‘As an experienced patternmaker with 40 years in the industry, my dad knew there was a real need to change the way CAM software operated, so we set about developing a platform that could sit in the cloud and would eventually offer two-axis to five-axis tool paths that could support virtually any design job in a matter of seconds.
‘Our solution means that engineers don’t need massive investments in hardware and can cut paths using just their iPad or a mobile,’ he continued. ‘The aim is to make the whole process easier, faster, and more accessible. ‘Trying to get the simulation right – especially at this complex level – was the hardest task, but we believed we’d mastered that when we heard about interest from overseas.’
Michael and Ryland’s development work had caught the attention of PTC, a world leader in accelerating digital transformation. The global business identified the power of CloudMilling and saw the value of embedding it into Onshape, the firm’s cloud native product development platform. As part of the agreement, CloudMilling will become CAM Studio and is expected to be available to Onshape users shortly.
‘The issues that affected Michael during childbirth mean he is confined to a wheelchair with limited use of his extremities and is unable to speak clearly, but we never wanted that to hold him back,’ Ryland said. ‘We were determined that he would live his life to his fullest ability and supported him with university, even accompanying him on evenings out.
‘As a team, we can achieve anything,’ he continued. ‘We funnelled our determination and Michael’s brain power to develop software that will change the way things are designed and made. However, never in our wildest dreams did we think our solution would attract a company of the size and global presence of PTC. We can’t wait until it is live and being used on shopfloors in factories all over the world.’
CAM Studio will offer a host of usability features for machinists and engineers, including the two-axis to five-axis tool paths, a fully integrated tool library, real-time visualisation capabilities for following tool paths and tracking stock changes. It will also give workspaces the capability to handle hundreds of parts simultaneously, each with their own job and related operations.
‘We share Michael and Ryland’s vision for a cloud- and mobile-first world for product development and this acquisition will help us achieve this for our existing and new clients,’ said PTC’s Jon Hirschtick. ‘Onshape will offer the only cloud-native CAM solution on the market to deliver a more agile and collaborative experience with CAD, simulation, built-in product-development management and connected product lifecycle management.’