And so what CAM program do YOU use?

  I almost, well kind of, hesitate before I open this can of worms. I find myself getting ready to cut the last strings to VX/ZW3d which are the ones from cam which I still use. So off I go into the quagmire of what to choose.

  Getting input from sales people, forums, user reviews and the rest always leaves me scratching my head over why is it so hard to get real information to make the best decision by. I have a shop close by for instance where the owner had a seat of OneCNC. He was at the time pleased with it. When I went to watch it cut my comment to him was “why does it cut so much air?’ I could see it go over the same spot time and again not cutting anything. So we go forward a couple of years and he tells me that he is replacing it with HSMWorks. After four months of use he still likes it and I will be having a look tomorrow in actual use in his shop.

   I understand that equipment and what you need your equipment to do can change over time necessitating a change in software. What I don’t so readily understand is how cam software is still at this time such an expensive thing and still chock full of problems that never seem to be resolved by actual testing before it is released to be used on real equipment owned by paying customers. 

   EVERY single cam program out there has problems and once again it seems the buyer is reduced to hopefully discovering the gotchas before the 30 days are up on the trial. He is for sure going to find most of them after the trial is up because there is just not enough time to really assess a program and still go about your daily earning a living routine. It is tantamount to picking the problems you can best  live with and forget the idea that you are going to find a program that just works with all the tool types and strategies you need.

   One of the sad legacy things that SE has to deal with is the lack of third-party integrated programs. In all these years the closest thing UGS etal has come up with is Cam Express which is not directly integrated and costs a ton of money. I know they are working on all this and within a year I am quite certain there will be cam for and integrated with SE just like I want it. But in the mean time I have to make a living and with new equipment coming in this year I can’t wait.

  So for all of you who actually design and them manufacture your own parts I ask for some feedback on what you use and like keeping in mind the following. I don’t need to be able to tweak the last millisecond out of the cut time for a small parts run. I need to get a cut plan QUICKLY and one that will cut efficiently but not a day in and day out perfect production cam plan. I would like integration with SE if possible and if not a good set of translators. Milling up to true fourth axis and lathe with a possible “c”axis. High speed machining and arc fitting. The equipment will be Haas so the post processors need to very good for them. NC code editor. You get the idea, I want something that works quickly in a production shop floor environment that gets me fast cam plan creation and good cut paths without a bunch of click-click page-page 8 million parameters to be filled out first to get there. Yes I know a certain amount of this is necessary for the creation of good cut paths but it seems as though you can go from cookie cutter to the labyrinth and I want a happy medium.

  At this time I don’t care so much for integration as much as I care to find effective and not the price of a new truck and then the gas for the gas hog each and every year there after. Please I am not looking to start a cam war here but I am looking to get real feedback from actual users. If I find any from cam resellers be warned, sales pitches are going to go bye-bye.

   I am also looking for information on where I can go to get unbiased information. Yes I know about all the forums and I question the ability to get good information from many of them. I would like to hear from you irregardless of what cad program you are using.

10 responses to “And so what CAM program do YOU use?

  1. Dave

    Reading your article made me think about one thing, ask HAAS the type of controller you will get on your machine and what functions it will support. In the past I saw CNC machine looking identical, but the CNC controller did not have the same version and option, making a post processor not compatible, obsolete or need to be update.

    Best is to have HAAS provide you with sample G-Code support by the controller install on your machine and compare this to what the CNC program will generate.

    • The standard Fanuc posts should work and assuming what I get will have a post processor editor I expect no problems. You raise an interesting question though and I will check into that.

  2. Dave
    SE is going to have to change their mindset. They should be on the phone with every major CAM program company out there telling them they want some form of interoperability. And call every player in the 3rd party app arena.
    It should not be that difficult. If SW can do it so can SE.
    I would think that CAM guys would be calling SE wanting to be able to open the SE native files. If they truly understood the ramifications of what SE has done with SYNCTEC I believe they would be standing in line to talk to the guys in Huntsville.

    And also I think all of the 3rd party guys who have stuff done for the parasolid kernel will be more than happy to change to the SE camp. Due to SW dumping the parasolid kernel. And with similarities of the parasolid model all be it now SE has SYNCTEC it should not take that much effort from the 3rd party guys to get their stuff to run. Cause the SW market is a shrinking entity.

    Looks like hope 🙂

    http://cadinsider.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/06/solid-edge-revives-partner-program.html

  3. Hi Billy,
    The mindset is changed but I will bet Mark Burhop is a bit overwhelmed right now with getting everything started up to get this going. SE is going to do a lot in this area but it will really take at least a year I would imagine to see many results. It will be to late for me in cam but it won’t be for the gobs of people who will be leaving SW. So far actual SE user respondents are showing a preference for Gibbscam, Edgecam and Mastercam with a token mention of Cam Express thrown in.

  4. We are a job shop with 6 Makino VMCs. We have been using Ug/Nx since about 10 years for all our CAD/CAM requirements. We started using it only for 2D and 2.5D in the beginning, then to 3D, now since about 1 year 3+1 axis, may be in 6 months time it will be 3+2 axis. Mainly we do aluminium machining for Telecom, Aerospace and automotive industries. So far we have not faced any job which we can not model or program using NX. We are a small shop with only 10 people working. Initially we were hesitant to go for UG because of high price and big learning curve. But after comparing it with at least 4 other CAD/CAM integrated soft wares we decided to give it a go. Main thing for us is to have relation ship between CAD model and CAM data. When one changes we can update other with minimal work. When you are working with similar but slightly different jobs it is very easy to automate the tool path generation with NX. We handle at least 10 new jobs every month. Many of the with customer supplied STEP/IGES data. One seat of NX with one programmer is supporting all the 6 machines with ease.

    • Nagesh, do you guys have any experience using SE with NX Cam? I know that NX Cam is well integrated with NX but I have to find one for SE. What specifically made you decide to go with NX?

  5. We are located in India. Back then when we were looking for CAD/CAM system there were not many options available like now. Only few were available and the support was a big issue. So as a test case we took an actual part ( a pattern for a sand casting) to three VARs we were considering and asked them to design the pattern and generate the tool path. This test clearly highlighted the strengths and weakness of the system they were using. We also asked the VARs some questions to gage how well they understand the system they are selling. At that time UGS was represented in India by Tata Consultancy Services. They were not only selling UG but were also running a development center for them. So they knew the software in and out. Finally this was the deciding factor as it shows even today, We get top notch support from them.

    We don’t use SE here. But I think SE models can be opened and machined inside NX without much problem and I think they are associative also.

    • I was going to look at NX Cam Express but the initial cost was going to be upwards of $16,000.00 for just the milling and then they had 22% per year on that for maintenance. By the time I add in Lathe it would have been over $20,000.00 + $4,400.00 per year and the first year. They are very stubborn about their price and are the only ones I have talked to who will not negotiate. In looking into NX CAM Express the pricetag I could have handled. The yearly fees at 22% is way above what anyone else here charges and those I can’t handle as I am a small company. You are right there are a number of choices now and what I am looking for is a good VAR and good software at a good value.

  6. I just bought a Strippit Turret punch. It is a used machine that came with a computer with Predator DNC and ProCam installed. I have talked to both companies and they have been very helpful in getting me and the Strippit working. No problems with support. Also Procam is the 2D version of CAMWorks that is integrated in SW2011.
    ProCam 2D is all I need for punching but has not been upgraded since 2006. They told me a newer version is in the works. Maybe they are working on a CAMWorks version for SolidEdge but they seem pretty happy with SW.

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