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CAD-CAM solution

bad-machinist

Plastic
Joined
Jul 5, 2021
We are a small company (director and 1 employee) and need a CAD-CAM solution. Recently we acquired a 2nd hand 3 axis CNC milling from 2005 that has Heidenhaim TNC 530i control.

We are looking for a good CAD and CAM software. Of course budget is also important for us as we are a small company, but we do not want to cheap out that the software becomes an issue. Preferably, we get a 2 in 1 solution to avoid issues with compatibility and dimension changes etc...

What we do is custom jobs mostly. We plan to design in CAD and then use the CAM to send them to our CNC. We do not require turning CAM. Also, most of our parts are not very complex, but the assemblies can be complex with several parts, and parts from our suppliers.

We were looking at Fusion 360, Inventor and Solidworks. But without having too much experience with each (We have previous experience with Autodesk product, including AutoCAD, from previous jobs but only using CAD) we are not sure what would be the best solution for our needs. What would you recommend?
 

BenBell4140

Plastic
Joined
Apr 6, 2015
Not sure about your control but I’d recommend looking into oneCNC. It’s very user friendly compared to others out there. I’m sure others will say differently but I think software is one of those things that whatever “you” learned on is what you will recommend. But I’ve tried Gibbs and I can’t stand how complicated it is compared to oneCNC.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

DavidScott

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2012
Location
Washington
I've been using Fusion 360 since before you could pay for it. I design and make my own products, including up to 30 part assemblies without counting the fasteners, and have no complaints about it. If it does what you need it is the best bang for the buck that I know of. For me, integrated CAD/CAM is a must. I love being able to change a couple of dimensions, re-generate the toolpaths, and post new code to make a new part in one or two minutes.
 

LOTT

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
Ditto what David said. A lot of people here hate the subscription model, but for getting started I don't see how you can beat Fusion.

We're looking at other options now a couple years in, with SOLIDWORKS and SolidCAM in the lead, but this is after designing, making, and selling several million dollars worth of products using Fusion, which has cost us a fraction of what maintenance alone on any other platform would have run.
 

jhov

Aluminum
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Ditto what David said. A lot of people here hate the subscription model, but for getting started I don't see how you can beat Fusion.

Getting started with Fusion is like getting started with heroin. Except not only are you addicted to the drug, you've signed over the deed to your house to your drug dealer to "keep it secure" for you and he'll allow you to continue to live there so long as you keep buying from him.
 

bad-machinist

Plastic
Joined
Jul 5, 2021
Our assemblies are quite larger than 30 parts without fasteners. Sometimes I have so many parts that I have to split the assemblies or the software crashes due to the computer. It is not the best computer for CAD, but it has 8th gen i7 and a decent video card.

My last assembly had over 100 parts excluding fasteners.

Yes integrated CAD-CAM would be what we look for.
 

bryan_machine

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2006
Location
Near Seattle
I have used solidworks driving solidcam driving a 5-axis iTNC530 for some years. It works. I trust it. No being hung up on funky cloud issues.

(The people above saying "fusion is a way to start" are of course right - for people starting from nothing. But it sounds like you have an existing business, and to some degree know what you are doing. So you might want to skip direct to the soldworks/solidcam combo.)

Also, what can you get decent support for in Malta? If Siemens/NX has a great story there, that would be worth investigating as well.
 

bad-machinist

Plastic
Joined
Jul 5, 2021
The business is still quite small at the moment, branching out from another industry. I have some experience elsewhere with design but only with design. We just design, then we have someone else make the parts for us. So I produce just drawings as my supplier works on conventional machines.

Not sure what support I can get here.

If I skip the fusion, and go ahead to a more featured system, how about inventor/inventorCAM vs Solidworks/solidCAM?
 

dirtbike47

Plastic
Joined
May 6, 2021
I would not recommend fusion 360 if you do a lot of design especially 2D drawing,

The drawing module really lacks of important features and functionalities, it's miles (or kilometers) away from any other software, (can't copy a view from a sheet to another / it's a pain to put a part normal to a view / no holes table / can't customize dimension line / if you do a section view of a named view you can't fully dimension the view / the sketecher is just a joke / if you do a section view of a cylinder or a threaded hole and want to dimension it, it doesn't know it's a cylinder or a threaded hole, you have to manualy enter the Ø symbol or the thread type / when you create a threaded hole, the thread goes all the way down / and the list goes on)

And I can't belive there is still no automatic fasteners function, I dont think you are getting paid to manually insert the same screw in hundreds of holes, and if the design changes you have to replace every screw by hand...

Well, it all depends of what you are looking for, at the same time it's a great software for less than 500$ a year...

Maybe you should take a look at Topsolid (cad / cam plus integrated pdm, it's quite powerfull)
 

HuFlungDung

Diamond
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Location
Canada
I don't think you need to use the same CAD for machining as you would for designing multi-part, except for the getting familiar with it part. I have used my CADCAM to design multi-part assemblies, but I almost always export each part to an individual file and then CAM it from there. Using CAM often entails adding a bit more CAD to the drawing file, and you really don't need to mess up your multi-part assembly with that sort of trash that doesn't have anything to do with the assembly itself.

For machining, you want to put the part with a datum on XYZ0 for the most part. Yeah, you can have movable datums, but that just overcomplicates things. One part model per CAM file is PRACTICAL. One part itself may have sufficient complexity to have to be machined in 3 or 4 setups. To jam a whole boatload of parts with their machining programs together into one gigantic file seems mostly counterproductive, and if the file gets corrupted, you can really waste a lot of time trying to recover from it.

An advantage I feel applies to single part files is layer naming. I have a set of about 30 layer names that I use over and over in every file. I might rename the odd one, not a problem, but I don't have to waste time being creative about thinking up nifty names that I actually won't remember 3 months from now what the hell was on them.
 

memphisjed

Stainless
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Location
Memphis
Fusion cad is not cad (It is one step above worthless or backwards from it). If you are happy with a cad software stay with that. Cam is a completely different platform. I am not a hater of autodesk, but starting with inventor now is picking a dead format.
I use fusion for cam, not my first preference - obvious first choice with price point and function. If you really want integrated cad/cam catia would be the direction I would look at (money no object).
 

LOTT

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
Getting started with Fusion is like getting started with heroin. Except not only are you addicted to the drug, you've signed over the deed to your house to your drug dealer to "keep it secure" for you and he'll allow you to continue to live there so long as you keep buying from him.

Like I said, a lot of people here hate the subscription model.

Just out of curiosity, if/when someone decides to move to another software, why can't they download solid bodies/drawings/DXF/etc in whatever format wanted from Fusion and take them over? How is Autodesk holding anyone hostage? Do you think if you stop paying for a subscription they are going to auction off your data like an abandoned storage unit?
 

empower

Titanium
Joined
Sep 8, 2018
Fusion cad is not cad (It is one step above worthless or backwards from it). If you are happy with a cad software stay with that. Cam is a completely different platform. I am not a hater of autodesk, but starting with inventor now is picking a dead format.
I use fusion for cam, not my first preference - obvious first choice with price point and function. If you really want integrated cad/cam catia would be the direction I would look at (money no object).

it shouldnt be IMO.
having a native CAD/CAM package like NX is HUGE! fusion has that also, but of course that comes with the NUMEROUS issues...
being able to make a change to the model or a sketch without having to reselect geometry in cam is TITS.
 

MeanMachine1980

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 30, 2017
I would definitely choose solidworks for the Cad side. also having cad and cam integrated so you can cam out a part without leaving the cad side is a must. because there will be changes in the model and stock sizes which in turn change the cam for the part. Ive tried a few different cam packages in the recent past and certainly liked solidcam. I would only consider a cam software that Solidworks supportes as a "plug in". I settled on purchasing a fusion yearly subscription because HSM works was included in the fusion subscription.
The HSM works plug in for solidworks does what solidcam did and it didnt cost me $18,000.
 

bad-machinist

Plastic
Joined
Jul 5, 2021
I don't think you need to use the same CAD for machining as you would for designing multi-part, except for the getting familiar with it part. I have used my CADCAM to design multi-part assemblies, but I almost always export each part to an individual file and then CAM it from there. Using CAM often entails adding a bit more CAD to the drawing file, and you really don't need to mess up your multi-part assembly with that sort of trash that doesn't have anything to do with the assembly itself.

For machining, you want to put the part with a datum on XYZ0 for the most part. Yeah, you can have movable datums, but that just overcomplicates things. One part model per CAM file is PRACTICAL. One part itself may have sufficient complexity to have to be machined in 3 or 4 setups. To jam a whole boatload of parts with their machining programs together into one gigantic file seems mostly counterproductive, and if the file gets corrupted, you can really waste a lot of time trying to recover from it.

An advantage I feel applies to single part files is layer naming. I have a set of about 30 layer names that I use over and over in every file. I might rename the odd one, not a problem, but I don't have to waste time being creative about thinking up nifty names that I actually won't remember 3 months from now what the hell was on them.

When designing parts, we use assemblies, but each part has it's own file. Typically I would use the part file to create a 2D drawing to send to the engineering shop to make the parts. We already 3D print prototypes, and we were thinking to use a similar workflow, but instead of producing 2D file, or 3D prints, producing a file for the machine to make the actual parts.
 

goooose

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Location
canada
Just out of curiosity, if/when someone decides to move to another software, why can't they download solid bodies/drawings/DXF/etc in whatever format wanted from Fusion and take them over? How is Autodesk holding anyone hostage? Do you think if you stop paying for a subscription they are going to auction off your data like an abandoned storage unit?

#1 - There is no CAM data in dumb solids
#2 - There is no CAD data in dumb solids

All your design work and toolpath programming is gone the day you stop paying subscription. That could be months worth of work, that could be a decades worth of work. Do you see now the leverage Autodesk is going to have over F360 users once they are 5, 10 years deep into their subs. Autodesk is not wanting to sell your data to anyone but you. The longer you are in, the more you will be willing to pay to have access to your data.
 

len_1962

Stainless
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Location
Tempe
When designing parts, we use assemblies, but each part has it's own file. Typically I would use the part file to create a 2D drawing to send to the engineering shop to make the parts. We already 3D print prototypes, and we were thinking to use a similar workflow, but instead of producing 2D file, or 3D prints, producing a file for the machine to make the actual parts.

Why oh why would you send a 2D drawing to the shop to make the parts???!!

They should be using the 3D solid to machine from using CAM and use the drawing for reference and QC.

JMO
 

LOTT

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
#1 - There is no CAM data in dumb solids
#2 - There is no CAD data in dumb solids

All your design work and toolpath programming is gone the day you stop paying subscription. That could be months worth of work, that could be a decades worth of work. Do you see now the leverage Autodesk is going to have over F360 users once they are 5, 10 years deep into their subs. Autodesk is not wanting to sell your data to anyone but you. The longer you are in, the more you will be willing to pay to have access to your data.

Fair enough. The parts I'm making don't need days or weeks of CAM programming, so I'm not as concerned as some other shops might be. Currently if you stop paying subscription do you lose access or just loose functionality?

To the OP- Are you constantly running new parts,or running an ongoing line of products? That might shape your decision on whether a subscription program would be appropriate.
 

Wick Craft

Plastic
Joined
Dec 27, 2013
Location
South Charleston, WV
I currently use Rhino 7 with BobCam's Rhino plugin. I use the 3 axis Mill premium version. I realize I'll probably catch shit for mentioning BobCam, but believe me when I say this company has come a long way. I absolutely Love this CAM. Almost every feature of the software is customizable, has very efficient toolpaths, great user interface. IMO, it puts Fusion 360 to shame in many ways. Haven't had a single computer freeze or bug to date and I've been using it for months now. The Rhino CAD is a very powerful tool for the money as well. The integrated CAM plugin is icing on the cake for me; it just flat works. I believe they also have a plugin for Solidworks as well.

BobCam has gotten a bad rap in the past for their sales reps hassling potential customers. After downloading their demo, I received exactly ONE call from the rep to see if I had any questions about the software. I can't say the same for all the others I demoed prior to purchase. They also offered many support packages, including just a stand alone perpetual license w/no annual fees if you go that route. They will customize any package you like.

Anyway, flame on haters! LOL
 








 
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