Ways to learn CAD/CAM?
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    Default Ways to learn CAD/CAM?

    I'm currently reading through my last post and compiling my thoughts on it. But a question has come up in my mind. If you were to tell someone or hire someone, how would you of preferred how they learned CAD/CAM? I have Fusion 360 and work has a newer version of MasterCAM, but no MasterCAM person. I might want to talk to them about me trying to learn it, but am unsure. I've made simple things to 3d print with Fusion 360 but CAM is a mystery to me. I've never touched MasterCAM. I think my employer will stick with MasterCAM. If they give me the green light to learn it, how should I go about doing so?

    My background is that I've worked my way up from nothing, been more of an operator and can do simple programs. (over 4 years now) This particular g-code lathe is my best machine, but I'm really only got very basic canned cycles kinda down. (It's been several months since I've programmed on it)

    Thanks,
    Higgins909

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    Assuming you have a solid foundation of basic machining practices, the best way to learn is by programming a bunch of parts to completion. Use the simulation outputs as a first step. This will get you about 30% there. The other 70% is learned by executing the code on your machine(s) and tooling. I'm not aware of a quick way to learn this stuff.

    If you program a number of parts and post the files and output here I will comment. I'm positive others will give constructive criticism as well.

    Good luck!

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    I understand some machining and can fingercode a little bit. What if you've never touched a CAD/CAM program? I can CAD and CAM in Fusion360, but I'm scraping by in CAM, but a bit better at basic CAD, while taking forever. Like what is a recognizable way that would get someone hired? A problem I've found with Fusion 360 is that it changes so much that the material that was created to learn off of is out of date, sometimes it's very similar though, but makes it hard to follow. This seems to be for both books and online videos/material. I'm wondering if my employer can get me a home learning edition of MasterCAM and how I would learn off of that.

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    I've just been though this and would definitely suggest MasterCAM university, their online training resource which I don't think is terribly expensive these days, or even free as it was earlier in the year when I went through a bunch of the courses for lathe. There are sort of three parts to something like MasterCAM. First there is the physical layout of the program tools and the the layers and planes and coordinates and you you navigate around in there. Then there is the CAD part, which in masterCAM feels like you've stepped back to 1992, is is ideally avoided by bringing in models from better CAD programs. And finally there is all the tool paths and tool library stuff which is where your knowledge of machining comes in. There are increasing numbers of tutorials on youtube which can sort out your point problems here and there, but the MasterCAM university videos are complete and comprehensive for getting from a model to gcode. This is especially true of getting you oriented to the program layout and structure, what to do about your tool library, and what are machine and control definitions vs posts. Once you have that and can make tool paths, post and make chips, then your machine knowledge comes in and you can iterate and learn from direct experience how changing your tool parameters affects the actual chips.

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    MasterCam University is a great resource, also check out Titans of CNC they offer a completely free training program and tons of content on YouTube that goes beyond M/C such as building fixtures and tooling selection. You can download a free version of MasterCam for learning purposes Free CNC Training Courses | Titans of CNC

    Look into every resource offered by MasterCam or your Reseller.

    Just take it slow and steady, If you are going to learn Master Cam or any of the software on the market then do it, make a commitment to using it every day. Sitting down once or twice a week for an hour or two will get you nowhere quick.

    Yes you need to make parts, your boss is not going to like seeing machines sitting down while you learn MasterCam. Get your programs and set ups done the quickest way possible and learn MasterCam around that, learn the software on your own time at the office after hours or from home if you can.

    There is in my opinion, no faster way for a guy like you who has worked his way up from nothing to make himself a very valuable guy in any CNC shop than learning MasterCam or another similar CAD/CAM product.

    I admire your desire to learn and your commitment to yourself to move up at work, from nothing. Don't settle for less it seems you have the right attitude.

    Make Chips Boys !

    Ron

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    Quote Originally Posted by Higgins909 View Post
    I'm currently reading through my last post and compiling my thoughts on it. But a question has come up in my mind. If you were to tell someone or hire someone, how would you of preferred how they learned CAD/CAM? I have Fusion 360 and work has a newer version of MasterCAM, but no MasterCAM person. I might want to talk to them about me trying to learn it, but am unsure. I've made simple things to 3d print with Fusion 360 but CAM is a mystery to me. I've never touched MasterCAM. I think my employer will stick with MasterCAM. If they give me the green light to learn it, how should I go about doing so?

    My background is that I've worked my way up from nothing, been more of an operator and can do simple programs. (over 4 years now) This particular g-code lathe is my best machine, but I'm really only got very basic canned cycles kinda down. (It's been several months since I've programmed on it)

    Thanks,
    Higgins909
    Mastercam University, free until July I believe.
    And then once you know enough to be dangerous,YouTube, YouTube and more YouTube.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Higgins909 View Post
    I'm currently reading through my last post and compiling my thoughts on it. But a question has come up in my mind. If you were to tell someone or hire someone, how would you of preferred how they learned CAD/CAM? I have Fusion 360 and work has a newer version of MasterCAM, but no MasterCAM person. I might want to talk to them about me trying to learn it, but am unsure. I've made simple things to 3d print with Fusion 360 but CAM is a mystery to me. I've never touched MasterCAM. I think my employer will stick with MasterCAM. If they give me the green light to learn it, how should I go about doing so?

    My background is that I've worked my way up from nothing, been more of an operator and can do simple programs. (over 4 years now) This particular g-code lathe is my best machine, but I'm really only got very basic canned cycles kinda down. (It's been several months since I've programmed on it)

    Thanks,
    Higgins909

    Your work place should train you and not rely on you training yourself. If I were interviewing you I would pass on you because I think you lack experience in the cad/cam systems. I would think your work place would be looking for an experience person in cad/cam. If you had more background I can see them giving a shot at learning and programming mastercam.


    That being said I think you should do what other members said on here and go to Mastercam University and learn as much as you can. The experience will help you in the future with your current company or future company.

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    You can download Mastercam home learning for free, no need to go through your workplace.

    My experience, and maybe not helpful, but sometimes I like to "talk" LoL

    Many moons ago, in a galaxy far far away, my place of employment decided they needed cam. I volunteered to learn it (had a bit of background with CAD, Acad R14...). Took Mastercam home with the dongle (at the time), programmed some 3d surfaced parts over the weekend just using the built in help files. Ran them that Monday, had some mistakes, but got the parts made. I think about a year later they sent me to a basic training class for MCX. Been programming with it now since 2005 (?), my cert is dated 2006, so somewhere around that time... I graduated my tool & die apprenticeship in '99...

    Anyhow, learn it however you can, youtube, online free training, HLE.... And some people are going to say how bad MCX is, but it is one of the most used CAM softwares out there. Have any questions about how to do stuff, you can post here, or on the Mastercam forum. Lots of help out there.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    Mastercam University, free until July I believe.
    And then once you know enough to be dangerous,YouTube, YouTube and more YouTube.
    Or he can ask you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcoope View Post
    I've just been though this and would definitely suggest MasterCAM university, their online training resource which I don't think is terribly expensive these days, or even free as it was earlier in the year when I went through a bunch of the courses for lathe. There are sort of three parts to something like MasterCAM. First there is the physical layout of the program tools and the the layers and planes and coordinates and you you navigate around in there. Then there is the CAD part, which in masterCAM feels like you've stepped back to 1992, is is ideally avoided by bringing in models from better CAD programs. And finally there is all the tool paths and tool library stuff which is where your knowledge of machining comes in. There are increasing numbers of tutorials on youtube which can sort out your point problems here and there, but the MasterCAM university videos are complete and comprehensive for getting from a model to gcode. This is especially true of getting you oriented to the program layout and structure, what to do about your tool library, and what are machine and control definitions vs posts. Once you have that and can make tool paths, post and make chips, then your machine knowledge comes in and you can iterate and learn from direct experience how changing your tool parameters affects the actual chips.
    I think the CAD is pretty decent. It doesn't (or used to not?) have mates or constraints, but other than that I think the solids are ... wait for it... pretty solid.

    It has push pull, drag, etc. pretty easy to use IMO. Drafting sucks, or used to.... BUT in it's defense, it is CAM foremost for machining....

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    I am not a Mastercam user. My comments are not related to how good or not good Mastercam is. I think you should do whatever it takes to get the training. All the resources mentioned already. I would include local tech schools as an option as well. Dont wait for your employer to ask you to get the training....get the training. It seems you may lack confidence in your own machining experience....dont let that hold you back....get the cam training. I was a machinist first....then got cam training....I am partial to that way, but its not the only way.
    When I talk with some of the younger guys where I work about going for cam training they will say things like....I will forget half of it because I wont get to use it on a regular basis. I tell them...yes...thats true. But we have about 8 or 10 guys here that regularly use our cam package for programming and when one of them quits or gets abducted by aliens who do you think the company will promote??? A guy who took the training a few years ago and likely forgot half of what he learned....or....a guy that never took the training and is waiting for some sort of invite to advance his skills.
    One candidate is half trained......the other is untrained....3rd option is to hire some clown we know nothing about.

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    I think self taught, supplemented with online courses and/or local instruction, is a legitimate way to learn, although like BugRobotics said you will quickly hit a wall if you can't actually run the programs on real machines.

    As far as making your skills marketable in job applications, my suggestion would be to make up a portfolio of sample parts programmed. The end goal would be to have a PDF, paper document or even powerpoint slideshow that you can present in interviews. Show several simple but diverse parts, each of which shows your entire process of programming a part, from receiving a model/drawing, planning operations, designing workholding, tool selection, laying out the operations in CAM software, simulating in CAM, generating g-code with a post processor, setting up the actual machine and finally running the part. Learn how to take good screenshots (not cell phone pics of a screen) and decent photos of parts and fixtures in progress and completed. This will require putting some thought into writing and laying out the portfolio document, however communication and documentation are skills that every programmer needs so this can be an additional way to impress a potential employer if executed well.

    Finally, I know some people will disagree but my opinion is that it's not so important which specific CAM software package you use, as long as you really understand the principles behind machining and fixturing and how CAM programs in general implement common operations. Your portfolio should reinforce this, demonstrating a good conceptual understanding of the "why" rather than just "I click this button to do this". If you're improving your machining skills alongside your CAM software skills, this will come naturally but it is important to be able to demonstrate this.

    Over the course of my relatively short time involved in CAM programming, I've used Mastercam, Fusion360, HSMWorks, Rhinocam, Alphacam as well as very brief demos of NX and Solidworks CAM. While each of these programs have different interfaces and names for certain toolpaths/operations, there are really a finite number of things that a CAM program does and I was able to quickly get to grips with being basically productive in each once I could navigate the interface. The only exception would be NX, but that's mostly because it's incredibly complex and (IMO) usually used within a large company that has an NX "ecosystem" of designers/engineers/machinists. My experience is that learning your first CAM program will take the longest, the second much less, the third and subsequent programs even less. Now that's not to say these programs are all equally good or capable- I certainly have opinions about which ones I am more productive in.

    There are a couple caveats to this idea of "learning one CAM program lets you learn them all." One being that certain shops will absolutely demand a "specialist" in their CAM package of choice. Like they will hire someone with 5 years of only Mastercam experience over someone with 3 years MC and 6 years of other CAM software. Sometimes there are good reasons for this, sometimes not. Just some thing to be aware of. Second caveat, is that I have noticed some folks can only learn a software package through what I would call rote memorization. Not sure if there's a better term for it, it's a kind of different learning style. These folks tend to memorize locations of buttons, sequences of keypresses, locations of certain dialogs. They can be really quick and productive in their chosen software but tend to have extreme difficulty if they are forced to use another program or the interface changes (due to updates or reconfiguration, for example). If you are one of these people, your learning experience will probably be quite different than mine and it will pay to specialize and focus your learning on a single popular software package. Final caveat is there are some shops that are doing very complex, specialized tasks that require advanced features of CAM systems. In this case, deep experience of a specific CAM system is crucial. This could be something like automation of programming different part families or some kind of industry/tool/machine-specific programming. Continuous 5 axis, swiss and multi-axis mill-turn machines could also fall into this category. My feeling is that these kinds of situations are less common and most machine shops really only use the "standard" features of CAM packages. It's going to be difficult to gain that experience without being hands-on at a shop like that, so I wouldn't sweat it too much this early on in your learning.

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    I spent a month in Fusion 360 and I can't get it.
    I mean, a month.
    I had to bail and go back to Bobcad.
    I have no idea how you figured it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowshooze View Post
    I spent a month in Fusion 360 and I can't get it.
    I mean, a month.
    I had to bail and go back to Bobcad.
    I have no idea how you figured it out.


    Self teaching yourself is not easy for all people. Most of what I know in Camworks is self taught and I spent a lot of time learning on my own. When I did have someone come out and teach me there were a couple of simple things I never knew and not knowing those options made if difficult to get past some roadblocks. Perhaps you just need 1 day of training to get past some of those simple roadblocks you are having.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowshooze View Post
    I spent a month in Fusion 360 and I can't get it.
    I mean, a month.
    I had to bail and go back to Bobcad.
    I have no idea how you figured it out.
    Look up Lars Christensen on youtube he starts at the absolute basics. There are a bunch of other youtubers out there too. I don't believe any CAM system has as much how to videos as Fusin 360 right now.

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    YouTube, 100%

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowshooze View Post
    I spent a month in Fusion 360 and I can't get it.
    I mean, a month.
    I had to bail and go back to Bobcad.
    I have no idea how you figured it out.
    Where were you having the most difficulty? CAD? CAM? Was there one major roadblock or a lot of little ones?

    I knew solidworks before trying fusion360 and that helped a lot. The modeling paradigm is similar for both. I've never had to do surfaces in Fusion but for simple mechanical parts I was able to basically apply a similar mindset and get going very quickly once I figured out the ways to do basic sketches and features. The CAM system is almost identical to HSMWorks and is very similar to the Mastercam solidworks plugin, so that was quick too. Until autodesk introduced their deal where you get a free HSMWorks license with a Fusion306 license I was pretty much doing all my CAD in Solidworks then importing into Fusion360 to do CAM. So I've never had to push the modeling capabilities of Fusion too much but have had no trouble learning how to do relatively basic models.

    I can see learning fusion360 being pretty tricky if you're coming from direct modeling software and don't have experience in history-based/parametric modeling like solidworks. I was very lucky to have a skilled coworker/mentor that introduced me to Solidworks and how to best take advantage of that type of modeling. Fusion360 seems like it mixes the two paradigms in order to provide the advantages of both. Again, I haven't gotten too deep into CAD in Fusion but I can see having trouble there if you are coming from a direct modeling background and trying to use fusion in that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    I think the CAD is pretty decent. It doesn't (or used to not?) have mates or constraints, but other than that I think the solids are ... wait for it... pretty solid.

    It has push pull, drag, etc. pretty easy to use IMO. Drafting sucks, or used to.... BUT in it's defense, it is CAM foremost for machining....
    I was somewhat more critical than I actually feel about the CAD now. Although I've used Solidworks since 2007 and other CAD back to the 90's, I only came to Solidworks multibody part modelling in the last year or so. MasterCAM, without mates, is basically doing multibody parts with your model and fixturing. Once you understand that, it's a lot better. But sketching is so rudimentary compared to leading CAD programs that if I hadn't done it through MasterCAM U, I would have really struggled. MasterCAM U was helpful precisely because it gives you those critical navigational tools like how to select entities, how to move them to different layers, how to navigate to different views and such. Most YouTube videos, and there are increasingly large numbers of good ones for MasterCAM, solve some point problem you have, which probably involves checking some tick box you hadn't noticed.

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    Watch youtube tutorials. Start from beginners cad. Then progress towards Cam. If you do not know how to draw, good luck machining.


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