I run solidcam in solidworks and it is very user friendly, i like it very much. i cant say its fact but my buddy that used to work with me running solidcam is now at another company using camworks in solidworks and is not a fan of it at all.
I'd make a strong consideration for Mastercam (standalone, not 'Mastercam for Solidworks'). I know that wasn't one of your options but I'm also a Solidworks user and gave strong consideration to the embedded, plug-in type and the standalone software.
In the end, I didn't want to drag around all of the cutter path nonsense, when I was working on Solidworks models. Solidworks also lacks decent wireframe modeling. Having simple wireframe modeling in your CAM system is handy when you're setting origins or building construction geometry around your solid (for collision avoidance or to manipulate entry points or other cutter behavior).
I also didn't want to be restricted/forced to upgrade the two packages in lock-step. I've been off of maintenance for 3 years on Mastercam. If I want to get current, I don't have to upgrade Solidworks along with it. If it were a plug-in, I couldn't be sure of that.
Finally (and this is a weak argument): if you go with Mastercam, you'll have the benefit of plenty of other users here (misery loves company ). Like it or not, they are the #1 software out there. That means that it's a marketable job skill and makes you compatible with many of the other shops out there.
I tried the 30 day trial of CAMworks but in the end, I bought Mastercam. I'm not suggesting that it's perfect, but you should consider it.
I found mastercam very difficult to use and I already use Solidworks for CAD so all of the added CAD features in Mastercam are a waste of money to me. I have been using GibbsCAM and so far haven't found anything easier to use.
...so all of the added CAD features in Mastercam are a waste of money to me.
I wouldn't suggest doing any design in Mastercam. What I am telling you is that you may want to create additional geometry that isn't part of the solid and can't even really be done in a solid environment. You may need to create setup points on your geometry to aid in locating the part. You may need to create boundaries to limit tool movement. You just won't know until you're stuck with something and can't get out of it. The demos you see are all really slick when there isn't anything clamping the part or a vise to run into.
I had a solid model and I wanted to contour the upper surface of the part. The surfaces were such that the cutter path wanted to run the ballmill right off the end of the part and down the sides. The problem is that the part was clamped from the sides (in a Kurt vise). The cutter would ram right into the jaws if allowed to run that way.
I had to put an additional 'Check Surface' in the model to define the face of the jaws. I told Mastercam to cut the upper surface but not touch the 'check surface'. That created a contour path that verified like this:
You can see the surface stretched over the sides and going down to the check surface (the vise height).
And this is what the finished surface looked like, still clamped in the vise. Notice how close I got to the jaws with that ballmill. I couldn't get that kind of control without the check surface and there is no clean way to create that kind of setup geometry in Solidworks:
Finally, the finished part:
If I didn't have the ability to add that construction geometry in Mastercam, I'd have been in trouble. Believe me: I'm a huge proponent of Solidworks but I've never been more happy that I didn't get myself into an embedded CAM solution for it.
And I agree: Mastercam is a PITA to learn. It has a learning hump to get over but once you're there, it's very powerful. I think they could improve the interface dramatically but I don't regret the purchase either.
I won't lose any sleep if you choose another solution. I'm just trying to share some of my experiences, to help you make the right choice for yourself.
Actually there are multiple ways you can get solidcam to do the same type of limits you did there, you can tell it drive and check faces as well as limit angles, working areas with the tool running to the inside, outside, middle or tangent of the bounding box or surface. Also you can solid model vises and fixtures with relations to move jaws or any other types of movements you want such as pivoting clamps opening and closing in solidworks and insert them into your cam model as such.
I purchased a cam system that runs outside Solidworks and hated it. I do a lot of prototyping and it was such a drag going back and forth between systems every time I made a design change. I started shopping for a system that ran inside Solidworks. I ended up going with HSMworks. I think the integration is much better that Camworks or Solidcam. It's fast and easy to learn and very powerful. Containing toolpaths is simple with a 2D sketch.