Newbie Solidworks + Mach3


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  1. #1
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    Default Solidworks + Mach3

    Hi All,

    We use Solidworks to design 3D models and have decided to invest in a Syil X4 Standard Mill for the manufacture of our mold tools.

    We will be using Mach3 to control the mill and so we are looking for an affordable CAM solution that we can export from Solidworks, be it native, IGES, STEP.

    There is a surprising number of CAM software out there and as usual budget is tight so something like SolidCAM would be out of the question.

    I am not sure what the pros and cons are of the different packages and features and wondered if someone could point us in the right direction.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Simon

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    I think one of (if not the) lowest cost options to operate within SolidWorks will be BobCAM. Not the standalone BobCAD package, but he SolidWorks add-in.

    If you don't need to work within SolidWorks, I think you would have many more options.

    CAD, CAM, Scanning, Modelling, Machining and more. http://www.mcpii.com/3dservices.html


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    Hi Macphil,

    We dont necessarily need it to be an addin in Solidworks, although it would of course be good to have that integration which could make things easier as SW is installed on our workstation in the design office and we dont have SW installed on the PC running the mill.

    What I have seen of add ins for Solidworks, they have been in the thousands of $ and at the moment, we cant justify that cost.

    We can of course export SW files to IGES, STEP etc, or maybe the CAM software could import the SW file.

    The CAM / MACH3 / CNC side of things is all new to me as we have brought this process in house as we make low volume one of tools.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Simon



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    Unfortunately this is a pretty common problem and one that most can't objectively give input on. There many lower cost CAM packages out there. Most of the people that use them know one very well, and of course think it is best! They lack the objectivity and experience on "all" or even many of the packages needed to give a balanced recommendation. I fall in that camp as well. I know BobCAD pretty well. It works great for most of what I do, but does have a learning curve to it (I highly recommend your primary user goes to the BobCAD 3-day training course). I have heard very good posts from users of other packages. Don't let the "list" price for BobCAD put it out of the running, they are VERY flexible on price, and I would not pay over $800 for a seat with "all the bells and whistles".

    Here is a graphic of the packages in the "Hobbyist" level - your best bet would be to demo as many as you can so you can find the one that YOU like best...



    The Results are in on the CAM Package Survey « CNCCookbook

    CAD, CAM, Scanning, Modelling, Machining and more. http://www.mcpii.com/3dservices.html


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    mcphil, thanks for posting the link to the CAM survey. If you click through, there is another set of graphs for "pro-priced" software. I know you're not currently considering that, but good to have the radar out there.

    I have put together some thoughts on how to evaluate some of these packages here:

    CNC Software: CAM Software, Simulators, Editors and Utilities

    The bottom line I would emphasize is nobody can choose the best package for you, you'll have to do it yourself. There are so many factors involved and so many packages to choose from. Once you get through that process and get a package and settle on it, you'll become a convert. They're all a trial by fire bootcamp--CAM isn't very easy to learn!

    I say that not to be discouraging, but just to prepare you a little for it. The guidelines I mention from that link are aimed more at the intangibles that will help you get through it and be successful than at any particular feature some package or other has. You'll want to be sure there is a support system available to you that consists not just of the support that comes with the software (many times at extra cost I might add), but also from the community of users. Finding a community that's doing work similar to what you need to do and is well organized to be helpful is one of the things I think is very important when choosing CAM.

    Hope that helps!

    Best,

    Bob Warfield

    Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:
    http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCGWizard.html


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