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
Since I don't use a CAM package myself, I can't provide any real detail
regarding the CAM side, programming machines, etc.
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.
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.
Serbu Firearms, Inc.
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.
Serbu Firearms, Inc.
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
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.
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.
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"
That has to be the stupidest damn thing I've ever read in this newsgroup
since not long after it was created.
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.
Somebody who doesn't have any experience using CAM software or
programming CNC machines isn't in a position to be offering opinions on
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
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
Black Dragon wrote:
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.
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
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
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.
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..
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