Howdy gang. I am evaluating several CAM packages and the first is SolidWorks CAM by CAMWorks. This is the basic free package you get with SolidWorks 2018 and later. I am not a machinist, so plenty of user error, but it should give an idea of how hard it is to learn this CAM stuff. I will be using it to make parts on a 2'x3' Avid Benchtop Pro with NEMA 34 motors and a 24k RPM spindle.

In general, I think the program does great simulations, but I don't like the automatic feature recognition they brag so much about. It never seems to work right, though the "test part" videos are for a part my pal designed specifically to trip up CAM feature recognition. Thing is, I had trouble with just a simple angle iron part too.

I won't be using the basic free SolidWorks CAM because it does not have a perpetual license. If you upgrade to SolidWorks CAM professional ($2400/3000 inc maintenance) then I am told that is perpetual. It is still only 2.5D, you need CAMWorks Mill to get 3D, $5500/7k with maintenance.

I don't want to pass any judgement just yet, until I use some other packages. I can't afford MasterCAM, GibbsCAM, Esprit, or HyperMill, but I will look at Visual CAM, BobCAD CAM, EZ CAM, OneCNC, and other mid-range packages. One thing about Visual CAM, they say they have a perpetual license, but their G-code editor/simulator only works while you pay maintenance.

Here is the video playlist I just made:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...7Em6W4SrXC1Uqa

Paul

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