Talking CAM Assist with Melissa Ramos

Norval Scott
February 5, 2024
Talking CAM Assist with Melissa Ramos

At Autodesk University 2023, CloudNC caught up with Melissa Ramos, owner and operator of M95 Machining (and social media star!) to learn more about her unusual journey in manufacturing - and what she thinks of CloudNC and the CAM Assist AI solution.

CloudNC: You’re now well-known within the machining world, but tell us how it all started for you?

Melissa Ramos: I started machining when I was 22 - I’m 28 now. My dad at the time managed the sheet metal shop at the time and bought 2 Haas CNC machines. He said, if I liked it and got the hang of it, then he’d help me open my own shop.

I thought he was blowing smoke up my a**, but I gave it a go. But I had a really hard time learning as there wasn’t really a way in for someone like me. (My dad told me that there are lots of women who do this. My answer - “Where? There are none!”)

I ended up going to community college to learn how to program, but I was told women don’t become (CNC) machinists, and I should find something easier to do. I was like - I already do this at work, I need to learn how to get better.

Eventually they let me sit in the class but not ask questions, and I learned from Youtube videos and from talking to some of the other guys who were working at shops but didn’t have any CAM software. After about 2-3 years, I learned how to program with Autodesk Fusion 360, from watching videos, and I also had a mentor from Autodesk who’d help me over Zoom.

CloudNC: OK, what happened next?

Melissa Ramos: In 2021 I opened my “own shop” - operating as M95 Machining but in the same building as my dad. In part because I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere trying to train elsewhere - as a woman, I wasn’t being taken seriously.

I was also fed up of being in a dirty and oily shop environment. I realised that if I did my own thing, my shop doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s.

I started posting what I was doing on social media and things started picking up quite quickly. I never felt that someone who didn’t graduate could have such an effect on people, but that’s what’s happened - people have really responded.

CloudNC: Why did your dad push you into machining?

Melissa Ramos: My dad was my biggest enemy - I was a troubled teenager, and he would make me go to the shop and work as punishment. You’d have to wake at 3.30am and work for hours, and it was cold and smelly. I thought he was just doing this to get me to hang out with him.

Now I realise that he and manufacturing have changed my life. I’m not yet as good a machinist as I would like to be, but I don’t know where I’d be without CNC.

CloudNC: You’ve been using our new CAM Assist software, which accelerates how quickly you can program a CNC machine. What is your response to it?

Melissa Ramos: Well, it took me three years to get behind a computer and start programming. The machines aren’t cheap, the software isn’t cheap, and G-code is a different language to anything else.

If I’d had CAM Assist when I got started, it would have given me the foundation to get programming much more quickly. With a click within Fusion you can get a part and you can manipulate it afterwards - it’s perfect for beginners.

When it has 3+2 axis, I will get a rotary (machine) and I will use CAM Assist to get the foundation I need to use it.

What held me back before was that I was waiting for someone to take the time to teach me, and I couldn’t find that. Now with CloudNC I wouldn’t need that.

CloudNC: How much time is CAM Assist saving you?

For me, I’m like a one-woman shop so I wear ten different hats. By saving me time you’re making my life a whole lot easier. Aside from running the machines, I need to quote for business, email, program other parts, and train someone (I’ve just hired someone). Now I can click a button and CAM Assist will generate the toolpaths for me - I just ask where this was 3 years ago!

It also fixes the language barrier. My hire is fluent in Spanish and less so in English, and a lot of the (documentation) around programming is in English. With CAM Assist, that doesn’t matter - you still get to learn.

CloudNC: What do you think CAM Assist will mean for the industry?

I hope it inspires more women to join the trades as it takes away the barriers that are there. If I can do it, anyone can.

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