CAM software for mold making - Part II

Ok, let's approach the question from another angle.
What CAM program, or combination of programs, would you recommend for 3 axis
mold making, and what is the approximate single user price?
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Tim wrote:

How about posting some examples of the work you intend on doing so we (tinw) can get a better idea of what your specific needs in a CAD/CAM system are? Here are examples of some 3 axis work I do on a near daily basis with Mastercam.
http://bdhi.ath.cx/images/fanmold1.jpg
http://bdhi.ath.cx/images/fanmold2.jpg
http://bdhi.ath.cx/images/fanmold3.jpg
http://bdhi.ath.cx/images/fan1.jpg
http://bdhi.ath.cx/images/fanhku.jpg
http://bdhi.ath.cx/images/fanassy.jpg
Is the work your doing less, the same, or more involved than that?
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Non-sequiturs make me eat lampshades.
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I would have to say based on the geometry commonly used to describe a fan blade, my needs are the same or LESS.
My work include molds for vulcanized rubber, open cast urethane, core boxes and permanent molds. Plugs or patterns include match plates, vacuum forming and wet lay-up.
My work has always been done in an all manual shop that includes not only lath and mill work, but a complete wood and plastics pattern shop. I do not own, but have complete access to a couple of large shops that are primarily Haas equipped, but practice only manual programming and no mold work. Both shops will sell me time at very attractive rates. I just need to select and get proficient with a useable 3 axis CAM package. Although I see no need to ever purchase my own machining centers, I will probable buy a large gantry sized router, for wood and foam work.
Any idea what a single user copy of Mastercam is worth?
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Worth?, or how much you have to pay?
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The basic package starts around $5000 and the full boat is around $15,000. Plus 10% yearly maintenance. Local distributors may reduce the price to make deals like anything else.
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Tim wrote:

Not many manual pattern shops left. 5 years ago I tried to gain employment at one of the few pattern shops left in the area (I'm a journeyman pattern maker now earning a living as a mold machinist) and was surprised they still didn't view CNC mills as anything more than production machines. Theirs was tooled up for machining castings. Touring the shop was like stepping into a portal back through time, I hadn't seen that level of hand craftsmanship in well over the previous decade. <sigh>
I very highly suggest considering Micheal Gailey's opinions, his experience parallels yours and he knows his way around quite a bit of software, much more than I.

Everything is negotiable. Consider this, I wouldn't make a deal on seat of any major (expensive) CAD/CAM product without getting at least some basic and advanced training included with the deal. The local Mastercam reseller has been advertising their training programs quite aggressively, I suspect because new seat and maintenance sales are down, and I'd wager they are not the only ones doing it. Bill posted the approximate pricing structure for Mastercam. It's a buyers market right now, you've got the upper hand.
With that said, if I were to go into business myself either contract programing and design or go full bore and open up a shop doing mold or pattern work, I'd run away from Mastercam as fast as possible and very highly consider Cimatron, or maybe Delcam.
--
Black Dragon

FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed -- it is hardy,
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Thanks for the input. Training as part of the initial sale is a very good idea.
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Me thinks this Cimatron stuff is a ok. go figure. I worked next to a guy using Delscam, It made very fast beautiful looking toolpaths, that needed allot of manual editing within delscam. It had a very nice toolpath editor- go figure, it needed it. Oh well happy editing! Maybe the guy did not know how to use it? I just point & click with Cimatron & I'm done- Look over the toolpath on the screen to make sure your getting what you want- happy?- post the G-code- send it to the machine! Push cycle start - go get coffee! Its simple when you have good software. Oh did I mention that Cimatron is a full 3D solid molder/ wireframe package that has full drafting capabilities & is excellent at complex assemblies like mold design especilly with Cimatron's Quicksplit - very slick. The price is probably equivalent to Mastercam or Delcam & nowadays very negotiable. You won't know untill you call & get the sales shpeal, & then you still won't know. Its like buying a car. They will get you for as much as possible. Thats the skinny. Have fun shopping for that under 2k do all cam software for mold making.
\|||/ (o o) ______.oOO-(_)-OOo.____________________ ~ Gil ~ the HOLDZEM king
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280297868987&category=158950&sspagename=rvi:1:1v_ Special alt.machines.cnc offer: Send me your mailing address by e-mail & I'll send you some Holdzem's for the cost of USPS, around $3-4 in US.
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If I had a full time programmer I'd invest in cimitron, delcam, etc... But not for this guy. His best bet might be surfcam, its cheap, easy, and relatively powerful.
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Have you worked much with Surfcam? Any idea how much it costs?
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Tim, I've run SURFCAM for thirteen years. I like it for it's ease of use. It has some really good surface machining capabilities, and it's priced comparable to Mastercam. I think the three axis plus goes for more than $10,000.00, but I don't know for sure 'cause I haven't asked for a price recently. I've heard of others like Delcam being less money, but I won't comment on software I haven't used. I've used Mastercam, SURFCAM and Pro/E, and of those three SURFCAM gives the best bang for the buck when it comes to producing good tool path.
Later,
Charlie
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Tim, I've run SURFCAM for thirteen years. I like it for it's ease of use. It has some really good surface machining capabilities, and it's priced comparable to Mastercam. I think the three axis plus goes for more than $10,000.00, but I don't know for sure 'cause I haven't asked for a price recently. I've heard of others like Delcam being less money, but I won't comment on software I haven't used. I've used Mastercam, SURFCAM and Pro/E, and of those three SURFCAM gives the best bang for the buck when it comes to producing good tool path.
--------------------------------------------------------
Thanks Charlie, that's the kind of input I was hoping to see.
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snipped-for-privacy@cin.net wrote:

Please explain, "allot of manual editing". Because, I call Bullshit.
I've been using PowerMill for over 10 years. I can guarantee you, I've NEVER needed to do "Allot of manual editing". It really isn't needed.

That could be. Or it could be, you're full of shit<shrug>

I had a demo of Cimatron a few years back. The funny thing was, while it was importing the ProE Step file, I had imported the ProE step file in to PowerMill, had the roughers, and semi finishers done, and at the machine ready to start cutting. It could have just been that particular file. But, I've never had that problem with PowerMill, PowerShape, or VX.
At that point, we sent the demo jockey packin'. I probably could have done some "manual editing" in the mean time. But it really isn't needed, and I know what I'm doing.

It works very well, as long as you stay within Cimatron. In my experience, in importing their STEP files, they suck big, monstrous donkey shlongs. They come in with massively mismatched surfaces, and gaps you could drive a truck through. We used to contract an outside designer when things got too busy. Never again will I choose someone who designs in Cimatron.
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Let me 'splain it this way Lucy, if you do "allot" of manual editing you simply have a poor post processor.
Michael
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Michael Gailey
3D Laser Scanning, Digital Object Reproduction
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Mr Steve, Well well well, we have an PowerMillscam expert here i guess, or maybe I'm full of shit? I'm not a powermill user & would not want to be after using Cimatron for .......13years. Previously Masterscam since '86 in the mold biz. I can tell you what I've seen: as I've said previously sitting shoulder to shoulder watching a powermill guy work on a complex 3D mold: allot of manual editing Toolpath was created, very quickly, he had to delete allot of areas the tool went that were not desired, why? maybe inexperience? He had the big shot powermill trainer come in & sit with him & I saw him do the same thing? What the hell? ok benifit of the doubt inexperienced powermill teacher. Next point;

Cimatron's STEP translator slow? maybe I stay away from it. STEP has never been very good way to translate. Use IGES from Pro-E making sure the Pro-E system set properly for IGES export. Which holds true for importing Pro-e into most cam packages including Solidworks for an imported fully nit dumb solid. FYI: If the Pro-e system is left at the factory default settings allot of cam packages will fall on their face, not Cimatron - it will just require a bit more "clean-up" deleting unnecessary geometry. IE: master surfaces that trimmed surfaces came off of.
next point:

Once in Cimatron you do not need to export out - in a perfect world. Ok you gotta have some outside work done or give a Masterscam guy or a Power guy Shape,Mill, VX whatever a file: Again, do not use STEP. Use IGES. Cimatron like Pro-e has export settings that have to be set by the user - factory default settings will give you monstrous files as you described. Plain & simple, Cimatron gives too much info.

The mismatched surfaces you describe come from YOUR import translatator - go figure. due to all the info Cimatron outputs your importer does not know how to handle. Again, all this could be eliminated if the export settings in Cimatron were set properly. been there done that. Mastercam guys very happy with my Cimatron IGES files. Delcam guys .......... well they shake their heads, but are still happy with my Cimatron exported models.

As we've seen there are inexperienced users of all cad/cam software. To bad your Cimatron guy did not know about exporting. I think that explains it? If you need more specific help, like IGES settings for Pro or Cim. let me know. Be glad to share may 25yrs of import/export experience with you- oh excuse me my full of shit Pro-E,Mastercam,Cimatron adventures.
PS: why use 3 software's when you can use one? \|||/ (o o) ______.oOO-(_)-OOo.____________________ ~ Gil ~ the HOLDZEM king
______ /_____/\ Best Regards, /____ \\ \ Gil Pawl /_____\ \\ / HOLDZEM /_____/ \/ / / /_____/ / \//\ West Chicago, IL \_____\//\ / / USA \_____/ / /\ / \_____/ \\ \ \_____\ \\ \_____\/
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Ignore this nonsense Michael, your input was very much appreciated.
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Michael seems like a sharp guy, I think he knows what to ignore with out anyone's pointing it out. Too bad Tim's ignorance is bliss.
\|||/ (o o) ______.oOO-(_)-OOo.____________________ ~ Gil ~ the HOLDZEM king
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Cliff , not so mean on the poor guy <g>..............he's trying to learn. He's just CAD/CAM challenged & possibly coupled with a learning disability. By the scope of his "mold" work, he' just a bit more than an advanced wood worker. That's ok man were here to help ya.
Hey maybe he could use some HOLDZEM's .................. ?
\|||/ (o o) ______.oOO-(_)-OOo.____________________ ~ Gil ~ the HOLDZEM king
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snipped-for-privacy@cin.net wrote:

So please enlighten me on what type of "manual edits" were required. Because, while you can very easily edit a toolpath afterwards, it's rarely, if ever needed when used properly.

Well, that's what we get from Harley, Caterpillar, and many of our other customers.

So I'm going to call the customer and ask for a different file format? Naah, I'll stick with software that can properly open the files in a competent, and timely fashion when required.
I get a call from a custom molder, who's got a ProE step file from their customer. You have to have the quote done in 2 hours. Do you want to waste time, and look foolish, calling the customer, so they can call their customer and ask for another file format? That's a good way to keep a good customer :)

The only exports VX has problems with are from Inventor, or from Cimatron. Delcam can deal with the Inventor files. But neither like the Cimatron files<shrug>

Really? You don't supply customers with your designs?

So, you're going to export your assembly in to an iges file? While, in theory it works. But in practice, it doesn't often work. Been there, done that. The IGES file didn't do very well in VX, PowerShape, or ProE either.

Yeah, must have been VX's ProEs, AND Delcam's translator then :)

Again, it must have been VX, ProE, and Delcam's importer, COULDN'T have been Cimatron!<eye roll>
But, to be fair, Delcam's exports aren't liked by many either.

Because there is nothing perfect. VX gives rapid design results. Whether it be part design, or tool design. While it's CAM side is very capable, PowerMill is better, faster, and easier for the shop floor.
And as I've said, we tried a demo of Cimatron. While a very capable piece of software, We need to get the parts on the machine. Not wait for it to translate a file.
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