What's your CAM system and your thoughts about it?
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    Question What's your CAM system and your thoughts about it?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm currently evaluating different CAM systems to potentially replace our current one, CamWorks. I've checked out Mastercam, Edgecam, a little bit of Hypermill, NX, and Esprit.

    Without really getting into my needs, I want to hear about what CAM system you have and the things you like/dislike and any other system you feel is better than the other. This could be inefficient workflows to bugs to lack of features etc.. Also, if you can briefly mention what type of work you typically do with your CAM system, it would be greatly appreciated.

    I would also hope to see differing opinions, without too much arguing

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    I've used MCX for going on 16-17 years. It does have some quirks and a learning curve, but I like it. Workflow to me is very intuitive. Their FBM module sucks IMO, so If this is what you do now, probably wouldn't be a great choice. And if you want one system for cad/cam, isn't great for drafting or making prints. It does have some good solid tools IMO. Yesterday imported a solidworks part and the radii were all split into 2 surfaces. Couldn't figure it out in solidworks (and I don't know solidworrks very well...), but was 3 mouse clicks to fix in Mastercam.

    I didn't get alot of time with NX, but I can say, it needs alot of customization/setup to be effective with your parts/programming. I don't know how involved that is, or how much time it takes to get there...

    Used an older version of Inventor HSM. Liked it well enough, but found with 3d surfacing it sometimes just wouldn't make the cut you wanted, for me anyways, maybe some settings to tweak?

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    Been using camworks for 15 years and I can say it does the job. Used Edgecam for 8 years and I was an instructor/reseller of that software but that was before using Camworks. Pretty much any software you pick will have it ups and downs. With Camworks I have few issues and I know how to trouble shoot the issues so I really don't have to much negative to say about it. People that use it will probably say the tooling and material database. It is a beast to set up. The one thing I think is the most difficult to use is building your own post in Camworks, I can build them but it is tough getting some customization in it. Edgecam on the other hand had the code wizard and advanced code compiler. That I was very good at building custom posts.

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    Camworks here too ( actually sw cam pro) generally pretty satisfied. I agree with what Shawnrs said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BluishInventor View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I'm currently evaluating different CAM systems to potentially replace our current one, CamWorks. I've checked out Mastercam, Edgecam, a little bit of Hypermill, NX, and Esprit.

    Without really getting into my needs, I want to hear about what CAM system you have and the things you like/dislike and any other system you feel is better than the other. This could be inefficient workflows to bugs to lack of features etc.. Also, if you can briefly mention what type of work you typically do with your CAM system, it would be greatly appreciated.

    I would also hope to see differing opinions, without too much arguing
    The bigger question is What are you needing?

    It is alot easier for us to explain the good\bad points of the software.

    We are also assuming that you are using SolidWorks already, YES?

    There is also SolidCAM and BobCAM for SW to look at.

    lenny

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawnrs View Post
    Been using camworks for 15 years and I can say it does the job. Used Edgecam for 8 years and I was an instructor/reseller of that software but that was before using Camworks. Pretty much any software you pick will have it ups and downs. With Camworks I have few issues and I know how to trouble shoot the issues so I really don't have to much negative to say about it. People that use it will probably say the tooling and material database. It is a beast to set up. The one thing I think is the most difficult to use is building your own post in Camworks, I can build them but it is tough getting some customization in it. Edgecam on the other hand had the code wizard and advanced code compiler. That I was very good at building custom posts.
    I started programming on Edgecam and felt any 3D toolpath on that system was way easier to implement than with Camworks. I have used Camworks for twice the amount of time and still struggle with what should be a simple hemstiching path. I've found some useful tools over the years, but there are still bugs abound.

    You mention the few issues and that you have to troubleshoot. This is where it drives me bonkers. Just too many workarounds. For example, you can't slot a slot with a tool that has a diameter that is the same width as the slot. You have to drop the diameter .0001" to make it work. It worked back in like 2016 but changed it in 2018 or something like that. And why the heck does it need to store hundreds of generic tool holders that are literally the same size? Save a tool back? New generic tool holder.

    I could go on and on and on, but I digress.

    I'd be curious to see your workflows and see how you manage the TechDB and your tools.

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    Gibbscam. Happy with it. It does what we need it to. I like the fact that milling toolpaths, markers etc (the interface) looks the same as the turning and MTM interfaces. Happy with the support we have gotten for training and issues. Having Gibbs create and modify our post' is a positive and a negative.....its nice not to have to do it yourself when its something in depth...yet it sucks when its something minor

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    I use and like solidcam, so I would add it to the OP's list of things to check out.

    And be warned that comparisons of end workflow are difficult, because with any CAM system powerful enough to do things like 5-axis work, etc., it will take a while to learn how to use it well. Probably days to months for any of these products.

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    Pro/E, Wildfire 2 version, wheel molds, liked it.

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    Using TopSolid7 here for job-shop work (mostly short-run and prototype milling), and a little bit of design & build type work....quite happy with the program overall, not as thrilled with the service and support here in the US, but we're past the point that it matters much to us.

    It is really a very capable design tool-not just CAM, and should not be confused with a standalone CAM program. The built-in PDM can be hugely beneficial once you see what you can do with it. The stock model management works very well, and is a huge benefit for 2.5D milling and turning-makes it very easy to get efficient toolpath without lots of "hand-holding."

    Home - TopSolid

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDt...h21vZy4g562t8g

    I'll send you a PM with my contact info if you want to discuss further. There is a 30 day demo available for download from their WWW site, and I *think* it has CAM, too, though am not sure if you can post-process or not.

    Cheers, Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_machine View Post
    I use and like solidcam, so I would add it to the OP's list of things to check out.

    And be warned that comparisons of end workflow are difficult, because with any CAM system powerful enough to do things like 5-axis work, etc., it will take a while to learn how to use it well. Probably days to months for any of these products.
    So, a ton of CAM systems utilize moduleworks for their backend processing. Each software utilizes it differently. Solidcam included.

    But yes, the workflow for 5 axis is definitely not for new programmers. However, from what I've seen from Hypermill, their toolpathing is stupid easy in comparison to Camworks, Mastercam, Edgecam. But that is the information I am after, who makes it easy to do complex stuff. Hypermill has advance milling in the bag from what I've seen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BluishInventor View Post
    So, a ton of CAM systems utilize moduleworks for their backend processing. Each software utilizes it differently. Solidcam included.

    But yes, the workflow for 5 axis is definitely not for new programmers. However, from what I've seen from Hypermill, their toolpathing is stupid easy in comparison to Camworks, Mastercam, Edgecam. But that is the information I am after, who makes it easy to do complex stuff. Hypermill has advance milling in the bag from what I've seen.
    Not only easy, but hands down the cleanest toolpaths money can buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    Not only easy, but hands down the cleanest toolpaths money can buy.
    Yeah, I guess I left that part out, haha. The toolpaths are very smart and super clean.

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    NX for both CAD and CAM. Internal product development/prototyping/production, and production development for clients. 3, 3+2, and a little simultaneous 4th axis work (a funky use case that sold us on NX because it handled that better than anything else).

    I have my list of issues and frustrations like one has with any CAD/CAM system, but the NX team is getting more and more open and accessible, and I've noticed that nearly every gripe I have has something in active development to improve it (tool library, adaptive roughing tweaks, chamfering, etc etc). For 3 Axis work, NX CAM is like taking a baseball bat to a pingpong match and I think Fusion/HSM Works would be just as good, if not a bit more polished and "on rails" for that kind of work. For fussy production programming, multi-axis, complex work... I can't say NX is definitively the best tool in the world, but I never feel like there are limitations. You can really make it do anything.

    The CAD side is absolutely mind blowing. CAM software is always very horses for courses, but the CAD side in NX absolutely blows everything else I've used out of the water (mainly 10 years in SolidWorks). If you work with client geometry (dumb solids or even with a SW feature tree), Syncronous Modeling is a total mind blower/game changer. We're also getting into a little reverse engineering and working with data from 3D scanners; the basic NX tools for dealing with facet geometry are incredible, and you can get even more amazing tool in the NX application framework if you need them.

    I might be tempted to look at Esprit or Hypermill someday, but the problem they both have is that they are standalone applications with junky CAD throw on top to check some boxes for the sales team; you'll have a tough time pulling me out of the integrated NX environment. Having said that, the NX CAM team is in extremely active development and they keep taking amazing demos and turning them into actual features at a rate not even Fusion can match - I suspect I'll be a dye in the wool NX user for the 25+ years I'll still have in this field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    I might be tempted to look at Esprit or Hypermill someday, but the problem they both have is that they are standalone applications with junky CAD throw on top to check some boxes for the sales team; you'll have a tough time pulling me out of the integrated NX environment.
    hyperCAD is actually really good CAD for model repair and interrogation - the stuff required for CAM. It does suck for everything else. Can't imagine anyone would use it as a primary CAD.

    hyperMILL (like many others) can also run as a module inside SW, NX, or CATIA (and possibly inventor IIRC). The module inside SW actually works really well, but SW is pretty anemic for adding surfaces, advanced measurement, etc... So I find it much easier to just stick with hyperCAD.

    The hyperMILL/NX combo might be pretty damn powerful, but I don't see a huge market for it, since NX already has such a robust native CAM.

    Unless you get deep into turning, or have to chew through dozens of simple parts in a hurry, there's no reason to even look at Esprit vs NX.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SD&M View Post
    Using TopSolid7 here for job-shop work (mostly short-run and prototype milling), and a little bit of design & build type work....quite happy with the program overall, not as thrilled with the service and support here in the US, but we're past the point that it matters much to us.

    It is really a very capable design tool-not just CAM, and should not be confused with a standalone CAM program. The built-in PDM can be hugely beneficial once you see what you can do with it. The stock model management works very well, and is a huge benefit for 2.5D milling and turning-makes it very easy to get efficient toolpath without lots of "hand-holding."

    Home - TopSolid

    TopSolid'Blog - YouTube

    I'll send you a PM with my contact info if you want to discuss further. There is a 30 day demo available for download from their WWW site, and I *think* it has CAM, too, though am not sure if you can post-process or not.

    Cheers, Brian
    Hey Brian, Got your message but can't reply to your username. It sees the semi colon as a comma for whatever reason.

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    Yeah, there's something broken about the way PM registered my user name ages ago....there's supposed to be an "&" in there, and instead it got this weird extra crap instead. I will resend a PM, and include my email address if you want to get ahold of me that way. A phone call or text on the numbers I provided would work, too-your call.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boosted View Post
    The hyperMILL/NX combo might be pretty damn powerful, but I don't see a huge market for it, since NX already has such a robust native CAM.
    I'm very curious to know what exactly Hypermill does with 3D and 5 axis paths that NX doesn't. I know a couple of shops that are "Use Whatever You Want, Cost Doesn't Matter" who have NX as the company's primary CAD system, and the option to Hypermill for CAM whenever they want... and they all sorta roll their eyes and say they never touch Hypermill. I've never dug into why though, besides them noting that it seems cumbersome to set up, and the UI is atrocious, and they've just never seen the benefit over just keeping it in NX (or even Fusion for rapid stuff).

    I guess there is that cool trochoidal multi-axis drilling you see in the Grob demo videos, but I suspect very few places are using that on the regular.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    I'm very curious to know what exactly Hypermill does with 3D and 5 axis paths that NX doesn't.
    From a raw performance standpoint, I doubt there is much difference. Some things hyperMILL does better, other things NX will probably do better. Based on a few days screwing around with NX, I think that hyperMILL's workflow is much easier. You sacrifice control for ease-of-use.

    There will be some fringe cases where one software will be a clear winner for a specific application, but when comparing similar products at that level, it really just comes down to personal preference. FWIW, I do know folks at a couple different giant tech companies that do choose hyperMILL CAM over NX. But as you alluded to, some of those same folks are using F360 for some of their work!

    The five axis drilling is dumb (at least IMHO). Circle segment cutters are really cool, and can be a huge boon, but full support for them is still under development. I have to when folks say "but xxxx CAM supports barrel tools now", because even in hyperMILL they are only at about 50% functionality. There's still a lot of potential there, but in a job shop (or at least in my job shop), we only use circle segment tools a few times a year, which isn't enough to heavily influence our CAM purchases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boosted View Post
    The five axis drilling is dumb (at least IMHO).
    Could you elaborate why you think that? And are you referring to the actual drill operation that indexes for each hole you drill, or the bullmill style with a tilt and c-axis rotation?
    Last edited by BluishInventor; 05-21-2021 at 12:26 PM.


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