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A powered drawbar is mighty nice to have too. Tooling is definitely not cheap! But suddenly, I had a whole new category of tooling to add. At the very least, I needed a CAD program to make drawings which I would then feed to a CAM program to generate the gcode needed to be really productive with the machine. G-Code editors and feeds and speeds calculators were not far behind. Digital Tooling: Go figure. As usual, it pays to have better tooling, but with CNC it is especially important to have good cnc softwrae.

In CNC alone, CNC Software can be completely transformative to your productivity in ways that are not even dreamed of with manual machining. CNC is to manual machining as word processing is to a manual typewriter. I love a sweet Monarch 10EE as much as the next guy. For most of us, the end result from CNC comes out looking much nicer, and with much less effort.

Word processors still use printers, which may need paper and toner cartridges, but they have no need of correcting fluid. This article is the broad but not very deep guide. It tries to tell you what every kind of CNC Software does so you understand how it all fits together.

So check it out if you are looking to get started with your own CNC Software soon. This is the CNC Software required for cnc machine programming. Gcode, by the way, is the basic language that tells your CNC machine what to do. You can learn all about it from our Free GCode Tutorial. Used to design the parts. The output of CAD are drawings and solid models. CAM software analyzes the CAD drawing, takes input from the machinist or programmer, and outputs g-code for the machine controller.

The machine will then execute the GCode to make your part. A lot of other kinds of CNC Software are available to help facilitate this process such as: The Machine Controller may be stand alone software, or it may be a proprietary combination of software and hardware.

There are a variety of CNC Utilities available for calculating feeds and speeds and many other functions.

Software is available to help manage tooling inventory, estimate job costs , and perform many other functions associated with managing the operations and maximizing the profitability of machining and manufacturing operations. There are a variety of different markets for CAD. The most common programs in the mechanical CAD market include: CAD software from Autodesk — Solidworks: The new generation Cloud CAD software. This is likely to be the CNC Software you have to spend the most time with.

I ran through their two basic tutorials in the trial version, and when I got my official copy, I was able to whip out the chuck backplate 3 views in about an hour. I figured this was not too bad all things considered! A parametric modeler uses constraints or parameters, hence the name to determine the dimensions and relative orientation of the objects being modelled. Explicit modeling maintains no history of parameters.

Each new object can be created on its own. What are the pros and cons? The distinction between the two is quite a hot topic in the CAD world today. For a long time parametric was thought to be the highest productivity. Lately, people are beginning to question that assumption and look more closely at explicit modeling. In all likelihood, the two will meet somewhere in the middle with parametric CAD software developing explicit modeling features and vice versa.

I like to think about it like this. Parametric CAD excels in two areas: Imagine having to create models for all the different sizes of socket headed cap screws, for example. With parametric, you create one model that is parameterized according to the standard dimensions of a SHCS, and you are done. Suppose you are involved in a manufacturing process that is spread out, perhaps across several companies. Because communication is not great over such long channels, everything is done via change orders, and there are lots of change orders.

A properly created parameteric model makes it easy to respond to change orders. As you can see, parametric is all about creating lots of versions of a single model. When that is the challenge, you will have maximum productivity with a parametric CAD package. If you know what you want, it is much faster to do it via explicit modeling. Setting up all the different parameters in parametric takes a lot of extra effort. In addition, it is much easier to learn explicit modeling packages.

Parametric thinking is not particularly natural and it takes some training and experience before it becomes second nature. The issue to consider if you have to do a lot of 2D drawings, perhaps due to organizational standards, is whether your chosen package is good at it or not. CAD is no exception.

Both are quite powerful, and quite new. They have free trial packages that will enable you to try them before buying. CAM Software: The market leading CAM package by many measures. And many others. In it, we take you step by step through making the same part with 2 different inexpensive packages—MeshCAM and CamBam. How should you evaluate a CAM package? Choose the most popular one? Choose the most powerful? I prefer to ask a set of questions designed to get a balanced view of which package will be right for your needs.

Evaluating a CAM package to find which one is right for you is a serious business worth investing some effort into. Avoid the canned demos because they always look slicker than they really are. If so, make sure the CAM package works well with that format. See the Toolpath roundup page for more on Toolpaths as well as the Milling Toolpath Techniques page — Incidental costs and flexibility, especially around the Postprocessor.

See my article on postprocessors for more on the considerations for postprocessors and buying CAM — Quality of training to jump start your productivity. When shopping for CAM, I made it a point to take a look at the user communities for each package and check out what parts had been made with the different programs. Let me show some of the parts and projects I came across in my journeys: However, they also reflect some of the power of the CNC software. Beginners and Hobbyists: If you run a machine shop, your CAM needs will start out being pretty advanced.

Hobbyists and Beginners are in a different place. Their learning curve is broader than the professional, who already knows the broad stuff, and it is much less deep. Your concern is more about just getting a relatively simple part made as quickly and easily as possible. Based on all that, I believe you should choose your first CAM package based on ease of use rather than choosing the most powerful package you can lay hands on.

You need to get through the broad learning curve and get some parts under your belt. MeshCAM was designed from the get-go to simplify the process of making parts so you can be successful sooner. I heard from one MeshCAM user a fascinating story. I asked the fellow why and he said that MeshCAM is so much faster and easier that he likes to use it for his fixture programming.

Fixtures tend to be simpler than parts and they amount of time it takes to machine one is much less critical than shaving every second off a part you may need to make thousands of. It made great sense to me and opened my eyes even further to the value of having a super simple CAM program in your CNC Software toolkit. Depending on the job, some are better than others.

Consider this part which is showing marked faceting where there should be smooth curves: Faceting shows the g-code used lines where arcs might have been better… The photo is from a CNCZone thread. The trouble is the STL file format has no way to represent a smooth curve or even arcs.

It converts everything into triangles: With a small enough tolerance, the facets will disappear. With cnc carving software, the idea is to convert a bitmap into g-code. Bitmaps are easier to come by sometimes than full 3D models, especially for applications like sign making and engraving. So the program has to make assumptions based on color or the tone of the pixels in the bitmap.

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These utilities are bought separately as they are a separate entity and is basically another program to design and operate the posting process? Can one purchase an outside post to use or do you still need the ICAM software to interface with? IE, questionaire to setup a new machine? How about setting up the machine axis in Catia to correctly create operations? I guess maybe I am not familiar with APT yet. Samarinder Singh RE: We teach some entry level programming but I have plenty of experience with Mastercam for creating tool paths and Catia for modeling only.

Roger also teaches some online courses at a community college. The reason I am saying this becasue we need good instructors, teachers to learn from.

I wish I had good teachers, tech support for Catia nc-programming when I needed the most back in Thanks RE: I am sure green on Catia programming. A realization I am having is it may be best to play with Catia for now and kind of wait until it becomes a bit more main stream or better supported. The nice thing with MCX is everyone uses it, they have plenty of included posts that can generally be setup for any machine, and a few other things.

There are some new concepts regarding Catia posting that I will have to learn about. I will check with our Dean about schooling up on some of this so I can better understand it myself. Bryan Carpio Felsher RE: This is how I started. At last count I now support 67 different controls! Underneath all the graphics in Catia, it is based on APT concepts, and you have to understand a little about APT to be able to use all the functionality, I think.

It gives you more control. At present I can do this after posting with a Fortran application. Bryan,what is "your" best advice for getting up to speed on programming in Catia? I have looked hard for video tutorials but all of them are more for modeling.

I am not sure I can be granted the time to go to a class room just yet. Bryan, I am not to excited about building a post just to learn how to program in Catia but I thing making a part is the ultimate test. Where would you start on the post building process?

Also, I am just curious if you program min tool loads for unattended machining or how you might protect your machines and tools for long run ops? I am thinking lathe operations. Already had a couple mishaps when the cut off tool did not cut and next tool tried to start over with the old part still in the way. We need to be able to walk away for hours and curious how you handle that? Kyle Brand RE: So i have no one to reference my questions to internally.

I have had formal training however in this workbench but it has only scratched the surface. I am struggling to answer the more detailed questins I have to ultimately generate the NC code correctly. Which is the ultimate goal here. Let me start with my first question. We, as programmers, need to understand this language. Where, specifically, do we turn to learn more on this subject.

Thank you. David Summerscales RE: And most of the time post developer provides you a customized pptable file. Dave, I wouldn't say Catia is an excellent as it is barely catching up with competition with release of R I do not want to go in details as it would lead to a long list of cons. It is only good to attract and satisfy big customers like Boeing etc. And I specified what I wanted to learn. I'm glad I didn't have to pay for that. There is a Lathe specific course. You can find all of the classes available here - http: It is 16 weeks long and does not include lathe programing.

By the way, I have used CATIA for 4 axis programming and was impressed with it's ability to machine complicated surfaces while staying on planes normal to the centerline. CATIA is not something you can learn fast.

You have to put a lot of time in no matter what route you take. Good luck Larry Crano RE: We now have Companion on line and can author our own lessons. I will try and find out if there are any NC Companion modules that you could get from Dassault. Roger Bombassei RE: I understand your frustration. Since I think per our last meeting, we will be in a hold pattern on Catia integration due to advancements with their system.

I just think we should revisit it in a couple years. I have noticed before these virtual machines that can be displayed to see every aspect of the machine and futher check for clearance issues and such. Just curious how you go about that and if that is moreor less just for show? Is this somehow possible in MCX converting crom Catia?

Regarding lathe programming, I have been trying for a while to figure out a way to create a bar puller to program. Just no way I found to do it. I have always had to program by hand for this. I have always had to use 2D lines for this.

Is this because I am only using a 2 axis lathe for this or what? MCX will not alow be to select the geometry for a tool path.

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