CAM..?

I know that could start a long thread but here go's. Ok company is considering a CAM package to work with SW.
What's being used out here? Good points, bad points. ETc..
Primary use will be two HAAS VF series Machining centers. Looking at a HAAS lathe in a year or so..
jb..
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In my experience, MasterCAM seems to be a common CAM packaged used with SolidWorks. I know many machinists that really like MasterCAM. Many of the SolidWorks VARs sell MasterCAM as well. I have also worked with someone running TopSolid because it was able to import a wide variety of complex geometries from problematic IGES files, CATIA, etc. I was very impressed with TopSolid's ability to import geometry. We used it to import files, perform a variety of corrections, and then export them again for use with SolidWorks.
Since I don't use a CAM package myself, I can't provide any real detail regarding the CAM side, programming machines, etc.
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I use Camworks and it is pretty good unless you want good high speed machining capabilities. I also recommend a system that runs seperate from solidworks if you are going to process huge 3 axis profile finishing programs. That way you can still draw in SolidWorks. If not then a lot of the packages are going to be great. Camworks 2D and threading capability are excellent.
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I use Teksoft Camworks, and I love it. Learning curve was a bit steep, but once you get over that it's very fast to get parts made. Their "extract machinable features" command is amazing...you can literally have a part programmed in seconds. Good points are that it runs right inside SolidWorks, has a configurable database for how you like to machine things, and it's cheaper than many of the "complete" CAM systems since you don't have to pay for a solid modeler front end (and you don't have to LEARN their modeler). Telephone support is excellent, too. Downside was a lack of 4th-axis capability, but they've just solved this in their latest release. I looked at Esprit, Mastercam, SolidCam, Surfcam and several others, but went with Teksoft.
Good luck! Mark Serbu Serbu Firearms, Inc. www.serbu.com
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Jon, Well, maybe so, but I never work with non-native imported geometry, so it's not an issue for me. We're not a job shop, and I don't know what kind of operation the orignal poster runs; I was just giving them my point of view on why we chose the CAM package that we did. For me, the SolidWorks/Camworks package is the best fit for my operation.
Mark Serbu Serbu Firearms, Inc. www.serbu.com
jon_banquer wrote:

explains
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I have used CAMworks with non native files. It worked just fine in that respect. In my opinion, there's no need for Featureworks anyway in a machine shop environment (- not unless you're supposed to be doing some design changes- then it would be useful.) Of course, it is always important to work with the customers to make sure that the files are coming in right -in any CAM system. Of course, Parasolids always come into Solidworks great and so do STEP files usually. IGES - well a guy sometimes never knows what he's getting - and this goes for any CAD/ CAM system. From a design standpoint I wouldn't want "Bob's Machine" shop importing my files and screwing with a model tree. Why would someone be changing geometry anyway? It's just opening the door to mistakes. You can always add cuts, add machining tabs, or define preliminary tool paths, etc. if changes are necessary. The customer part is one feature in the tree and thus won't be goofed up. Again, the importing is usually not an issue as long as the programmer and the customer work through the export/ import settings.
There were a few problems with extracting the machinable features, but this was about 7 years ago, so I'm sure that by now they've fixed the problems.
I have also used Esprit. It has some nice features and some nice ways of saving routines that you might use over again, but I think I like CAMworks better since the modeler was right there - Solidworks. We didn't buy Esprit's Solid Moder, but all connectivity is lost to Solidworks. If a change needs to be made - then likely some programming will be lost as well.
wrote:

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For SolidWorks users, there are a few things that come up frequently. You've already heard of CAMWorks, which is ok if what you do is fairly predictable 2 1/2 axis stuff. It does feature recognition, and is a bit quirky, and doesn't really give you a lot of control. It also runs inside SW, so you're tying up a seat of SW whenever you're doing CAM.
Another integrated option is SolidCAM, which has some strengths and drawbacks. As I understand it, for the simple stuff, SolidCAM is actually not very friendly, but for surface cutting it's fairly automatic. Again, I've never used this one, just what I've heard.
I work with some guys who use FeatureCAM. It also does feature recognition for really easy 2 1/2 axis, and it's stand alone (not integrated into the CAD package, which I think is a benefit). You can download a trial. It's really easy to use, kind of a wizard interface, and gives you a fair amount of control. One of the great things about this package is that if you need to upgrade to something with good 5 axis, FeatureCAM has recently been bought by Delcam, which is top shelf.
I know a lot of people who use other packages like Esprit and MasterCAM. Esprit is fairly powerful, but I hear a lot of complaints about it for whatever reason. MasterCAM is kind of like the Autocad of CAM, everybody seems to have it, but last I looked into it, it lacked some of the nicer feature recognition function to do simple work very quickly.
I don't have a vested interest in any of these, but in my work I tend to run across a lot of different companies and need to be able to interface with their CAM systems. It's just like anything, I guess, what's best for you depends mainly on what kind of work you're doing and what kind of control you need. As always, automation always comes at the cost of control and flexibility.
Good luck,
Matt

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matt wrote:

If you ask 'Matt the Netcop Lombard' when was the last time he actually used any of the CAM applications he mentioned above, and when the last time he actually programed a CNC machine was, you'll quickly find his credibility on the subject is a big fat goose egg. That is "zero". As in none.
"Mastercam is kind of like the Autocad of CAM"
?!
LOL!
That has to be the stupidest damn thing I've ever read in this newsgroup since not long after it was created.
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plonk

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So do you mean he is not credible because he implied he never programmed a CNC and has actually done so; or do you mean he has actually programmed CNC and has implied he hasn't?
Anyway, we use MasterCam for the Haas Lathe and Mill.
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TOP wrote:

Somebody who doesn't have any experience using CAM software or programming CNC machines isn't in a position to be offering opinions on such matters.

We use Cimatron and Mastercam to program 1 Roku-Roku high speed mill, 7 Fadal VMC's, 1 Sharnoa VMC, 1 Kuraki VMC, and 1 Kuraki horizontal boring mill. The DeVlieg HBM and Mori Seiki lathe are programed manually at their controls, as is the Charmilles wire EDM.
We use Solidworks, Mechanical Desktop and Pro Engineer for most design work. Occasionally molds are designed in Cimatron and Mastercam right on the shop floor. Our injection mold building capacity is anything that weighs under 20 tons.
When looking at CAM software, you should be looking at what best suits your *MACHINING* needs. Looking at what works best with ThisCAD or ThatWorks is utterly ridiculous. With as good as data translators are today, that is a totally moot issue. And, if you're that concerned about CAD and CAM software working together, you should be looking at the integrated manufacturing solutions such as Pro Manufacture or Unigraphics instead.
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Once again, I didn't really see Matt offering any opinions of his own, just "What he had heard." That is fair enough. A list of software and the source of his opinions is all he seemed to be saying. A sensible reader would have a look at all the software mentioned in this thread and demo it before making a decision.
Your point is well taken that the CAD and CAM package don't have to be tightly integrated to work well together. I think you and Matt both lean towards CAM independence from CAD. As a general rule I also take that position with any special purpose software that processes CAD geometry.
Black Dragon wrote:

on
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about
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Your interpretation of Matt's statement is alot different from mine. I thought he was simply saying that MasterCAM is very common as AutoCAD is (or was?). I have observed the same thing in dealing with machine shops around the country. There's nothing stupid about his comment. Reading your response made me wonder if you had actually read his posting since your critique seems completely inaccurate.
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Jb, I think you should look at 3 packages and see what fits the following: 1) your skill level doing machining period, i mean if you have never even done conversational you will want something that is easy to understand ect... 2) What type of machining will you be doing the majority of the time 2d , 2.5 d , 3 axis , 4 axis , 5 axis ect.. Each software has its strengths for all these some better than others. 3) How good is it bringing in outside CAD data IGES, STEP, ACIS, PARASOLID, ect.. you never know when you will need to machine this type of data. 4) Is their associativity with the model from SW to CAM. 5) Nothing substitutes trying the packages and seeing what works best and gives you the best results (real world). Cut some renwood with each its cheap and fast to machine and see how they handle the quality of the surfaces, radius ect... Do the same part for all and make sure it has all the features you would want to machine in your process (product you make). The following is my opinion and take it for what it is, MasterCam is a good all around package but not as easy to pick up as others. It is what I would say a true machine shop should look at first. GibbsCam , easy to pickup and does a pretty good job on mold work and is fast on toolpaths. Featureworks i found to be slow but that was 2 years ago so it may have changed. I have used the above packages before, we ended up going with Gibbs and have been happy with it, no matter what you choose it will not do everything great, you just want something that does a good job all around.

HAAS
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Well thanks for the input.. The design engineer here looked at a couple of CAM programs MasterCam and EdgeCam I think. Still looking from the last time we talked. I think he's still monitoring this thread from Goggle.. He was going to look at Gibbscam and one other I can't seem to remember...
Thanks again for the info..
jb..

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wrote:

If past expereance is anything.. we'll still be running the same machines we have now. Product is for the most part 'static' here. Some small changes. Dought will 4 or 5 axis ever be needed.

You mean the CAM software company 'right'? :)

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wrote:

Mostly small runs of mild steel with some aluminum, brass.

Robots..? that's what our operators call them self's

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