I'm looking into CAD-CAE-CAM solutions and trying to keep the cost under control. Ideally, the solution would be highly integrated, but I can put up with a good bit of inconvenience to keep the cost down. I've got a good many questions, and was wondering if I could ask the group for help?
CAE - My long-time favorite CAE tool is Matlab and it's front-end, Simulink. I would be willing to change, but would prefer not to since I've got a lot of time and money tied up in it.
CAD - I've much less experience here. I've used Visio Technical (98?, last version before they were bought by Microsoft) and a little AutoCad 12. I'm pretty much an unwritten page here in terms of preferences. Features needed include 3-D, renderings, and good data interchange with other programs. My *really* limited understanding here is that *.DWG files are the ultimate in data interchange? Many of the machine software companies mention NIST's "IGES"; is that an important feature to look for in CAD-CAM or does just *.DWG compatibility accomplish the same thing?
CAM - I've been reading about using software from the Enhanced Machine Controller (EMC) project,a PC-based controller board from Servo To Go, I'm pretty unclear on how to tie it all together. The EMC software seems to expect a stream of G-code, which I've read a good bit about. Is there a name for the kind of software package that does the very complex conversion from *.DWG or IGES to G-code stream? One vendor is "BobCAD", handle this problem, but they seem to offer a CAD program of their own. Perhaps that's only to model the particular piece of the drawing that the mill or lathe is to create in one session?
Machinery - I'd be doing servo and encoder retrofits to a TOS Trencin SN40 16x60 lathe and a Fritz Werner FV2 56" bed vertical mill.
My immediate goal is to lock down on a CAD package that will not be too limiting in terms of my plans I've described above. I'd be very grateful for help in selecting a CAD package, as well as any other advice.
Thanks very much! Dave