Created in the 1980s in an effort to bring CAM software onto the emerging personal computer market, as up to this point CAD and CAM software were in widely available to small workshops who could not afford the prices of industrial solutions. Today the program is accessible in two versions: There is the comprehensive CAD software that contains the full CAM feature set and then there is the CAM plugin for Solidworks that allows you to create tool paths from within the same program you design your parts in.
This CAM software for Solidworks includes the a host of modules. Simultaneous 5 Axis CNC milling enables you to produce the most complex shapes. The lathing module can be harnessed to to quickly create efficient toolpaths for all of your roughing, finishing, threading, and grooving operations. Create wire paths with the wire EDM module. Increase your turnaround and save material costs with the nesting tool. You want to cultivate your artistic side? The BobArt tool converts raster images into paths that can then be milled onto the workpiece to create stunning works of art in no time. Simulate the machine operations beforehand and save money on scra pieces. In short, BobCAD-CAM has everything you could ask from CAM software.
CATIA (Computer Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application) is developed by Dassault Systèmes for applications in industrial design and mechanical engineering. To be specific, it was designed for automotive, shipbuilding, industrial equipment, and architecture. Hence, it is a high-performance design platform that is only on par with one other piece of software on this list: Siemens NX. This multi-platform application covers all the major fields of state-of-the-art manufacturing: as 3D CAD software, as a computer-aided engineering (CAE) software suite, and as highly-advanced CAM software.
Similar to its competitor Siemens NX, CATIA supports programming highly-complex trajectories for milling, turning, and lathing. CATIA’s built-in CAM processor ensures a high degree of associativity between the CAD design and the tool paths. Meaning you can make at any point make changes without having to update the tool paths manually.
As can be expected from a comprehensive CAD/CAM software as CATIA, it supports high-speed machining operations such as concentric roughing, Z-level milling, spiral milling and 5-axis flank contouring to help reduce production times. A simulation windows allows the user to review the tool paths programmed and obtain efficient collision-free trajectories. CATIA is the way to go, if you’re looking at industrial manufacturing processes.
CAMWorks is at the core of 3DS own CAM module for Solidworks. However, the former offers a greater feature set. It is available for SolidWorks and Solid Edge and harnesses the same geometry to generate tool paths. In other words, this ensures that the part you machine is the same part you modeled. Another advantage of the integrated CAM software is that any changes to the design are automatically translated to the tool paths, saving you time and money it costs to program them anew.
CAMWorks supports automatic feature recognition – a time-saving tool that enables scanning, identifying, and automatically creating machinable features from your design. It supports up to 5 axis simultaneous machining, making the CAM software the perfect fit for a wide variety of of applications. This makes the program capable of creating tool paths for complex parts that require multi-axis contouring and 3D toolpath tilting like turbine blades and cast molds.
Virtual machine is a simulation tool that allows you to check for problems like collisions that might occur in the creation of your parts. This tool allows you to verify the G-Code before you even power up your machines and reduces the setup time dramatically. Leverage CAMWorks’ knowledge based machining to implement consistent practices throughout your company that will ensure that all parts are machined according to proven best practices.
Fusion 360 includes comprehensive CAM software tools. The integration of CAM into this advanced CAD program effectively increases the overall productivity. This is because there is no time lost transferring the files to an external CAM software.
Besides its CAM feature-set, Fusion 360 is a professional 3D CAD software by Autodesk. Unlike other professional solid-body 3D modeling software, this CAM software is strong in usability. Still, it covers the whole process of planning, testing and executing a 3D design. It has powerful parametric tools and analytic mesh tools that are well-suited to most challenges in industrial design. Moreover, it is able to simulate both the construction of the components designed as well as the stresses they will face once they are put to their use.
The amazing versatility of Fusion 360 manifests in the inclusion of tools that are geared towards use by designers. Among them are comprehensive surface modeling tools that allow you to produce solid models suitable for techniques like 3D printing.
If you are looking for a CAM software that is tailor-made for your requirements, take a close look at hyperMill. You can take your pick from seven distinct modules that cover your every CAM need. In addition, the program is available both as a stand-alone program and an plugin n for hyperCAD-S, Autodesk Inventor, and SolidWorks. The latter has the advantage that changes made to the CAD design result in a direct recalculation of the toolpaths without the need to reload the design and reprogram all of your work.
hyperMill is just as capable of humble 2D machining, as of complex milling, turning, and high-speed multi-axis machining operations. Dedicated packages for specialized applications like programming blades, tubes or tyre molds are available separately. Cut down programming time significantly with hyperMill’s feature recognition and feature processing that helps program pockets and holes automatically. Many users appreciate this CAM software for its ability to program complex features with deep cavities, high steep walls and undercuts like intake port machining options – machining down around corners in an internal pocket.
hyperMill includes a powerful simulation software that delivers an accurate overview of the generated milling paths for inspection. It provides a fast and reliable way to ensure that the desired machining job can be processed in the planned machine.
HSM is a CAM Software plugin that integrates into Inventor and Solidworks. For this reason the version for the latter is called “HSM Works”. To increase the program’s usefulness, it also supports the AnyCAD standard – meaning you can import drawings from many third-party software solutions and maintain associativity between the original and copy. This feature makes HSM a powerful CAM software, as it allows you to make changes in the original file that will instantly transfer to the tool paths.
Users can program with this CAM software for a large set of tools including machining, milling, turning, water jet, plasma, and laser cutting. HSM supports up to 5 axis simultaneous machining, making the CAM software the perfect fit for a wide variety of of applications. 5 axis machining is capable of creating tool paths for complex parts that require multiaxis contouring and 3D toolpath tilting like turbine blades and cast molds. HSM also comes with Autodesk’s own advanced roughing strategy “adaptive clearing” to help reduce mill-time.
A powerful and comprehensive tool path simulation allows users to see if problems arise during the process before you transfer the code to your machine. That means you can radically reduce scrap parts, saving you time and money. This CAM software also also features a large library of post processing procedures for the most popular machines.
As usual, Autodesk offers this CAM software for Solidworks and Inventor free of charge to students.
First released in the 1980s, Mastercam is not only of the oldest but today even one of the most most widely used CAM software in the world. One of the reason may well be that Mastercam combines a powerful CAM solution with full 3D CAD modeling into one product. This means effectively that you can make changes to the CAD design at a late stage without having to re-program the GCode from scratch.
In terms of CAM capabilities, Mastercam supports 3D milling, nesting, engraving, and up to 5 axis machining. The latter enables manufacturing complex parts like turbines. Nesting creates efficient interlocking parts that that assure optimal material usage for the highest possible yields. Its Feature Based Machining evaluates a part’s features and automatically designs an effective machining strategy. Put simply, you can save a lot of time programming complex paths that you can put some other use.
Mastercam’s CAD feature set allows for wireframe and surfacing to solid modeling. The tools include parametric and NURBS surfaces using loft, ruled, revolved, swept, draft, and offset creation methods. Apart from the stand-alone CAD/CAM software, the CAM portion is also available as an integrated CAM solution. Users of SolidWorks can harness Mastercam’s CAM tools as an add-on.
Powermill is an Autodesk CAM software for Solidworks and other CAD software. Program your tools in snap with Powermill’s feature recognition that enables scanning, identifying, and automatically creating machinable features from your design.
Since it was developed for creating molds, dies, and other complex parts, Powermill supports 3- and 5-axis subtractive and additive manufacturing. When programming in the 5 axis mode, you can choose from a great many options to achieve the optimum tool path for your design. What is more this CAM software supports swiss type machining, which is used to produce smaller, high-tolerance parts. This CAM software also also features a large library of post processing procedures for the most popular machines. Check the motions of your tools in the detailed simulation to satisfy yourself that your equipment will not be damaged. In addition, Powermill brings comprehensive analytical tools to the table that allow for instance to identify unmachined stock accurately.
Another important feature of this CAM software is its native import of third party file formats like Siemens NX, CATIA to preserve the associativity. Meaning you can change your design in one of these programs and Powermill will then update the tool paths accordingly.
Siemens NX CAM is more than a CAM software. It can be used to setup and control entire manufacturing cycles of milling and turning machines. For instance, it provides a solution for automotive stamping dies and incorporates numerous industry best practices for automating the design, undersizing, validation and documentation of electrodes.
The manufacturer claims that its feature-based machining can dramatically reduce programming time. It achieves this by automatically recognizing and programing machining feature types. In addition to speeding up the workflow, this feature also ensures that all parts are machined according to proven best practices in your facilities. Since the tool paths are associatively linked back to the CAD design, all changes are instantaneously reflected in the tool paths.
Siemens NX CAM’s comprehensive approach to machining and manufacturing entails the possibility to virtually simulate the physical setup of the process. This allows you to discover physical conflicts like machine limits or collisions with fixtures and other components. The analytical tools can also help you understand to what degree your tool paths are true to the original design and discover areas that are either under-machined or over-machined.
SolidCAM is a CAM software that integrates directly into SolidWorks and Inventor. That does not only mean you can program tooling paths from the comfort of the CAD software you know and love, but it is also advantageous in that all tool paths retain associativity with the original CAD design. In other words, any changes made to the CAD file will instantly be reflected in updated tool paths, saving you time and money.
Take out the guesswork of milling, turning and other processes by using the patented Technology Wizard. The wizard allows you to automatically fine tune optimized feeds, speeds, depth and width of cuts. What is more, this CAM software automatically recognizes the distinct geometrical features of your design and assigns toolpaths accordingly. Hence, this approach eliminates the need for time-consuming manual geometry definition.
The tool paths created with this CAM software rely on an advanced, patented morphing spiral that gradually conforms to the geometry of the feature being machined rather than an old-fashioned, simple spiral tool path. This increases the amount of time the tool actually works the stock and thus makes your machine more productive.
SolidWorks CAM is a module designed by 3DS to bring CAM capabilities to SolidWorks. It harnesses the same geometry to generate tool paths. In other words, this ensures that the part you machine is the same part you modeled. Another advantage of the integrated CAM software is that any changes to the design are automatically translated to the tool paths, saving you time and money it costs to program them anew.
An advanced CAM software, SolidWorks CAM supports automatic feature recognition – a time-saving tool that enables scanning, identifying, and automatically creating machinable features from your design. It supports up to 5 axis simultaneous machining, making the CAM software the perfect fit for a wide variety of of applications. This makes the program capable of creating tool paths for complex parts that require multi-axis contouring and 3D toolpath tilting like turbine blades and cast molds.
Virtual machine is a simulation tool that allows you to check for problems like collisions that might occur in the creation of your parts. This tool allows you to verify the G-Code before you even power up your machines and reduces the setup time dramatically. Leverage SolidWorks CAM’s knowledge based machining to implement consistent practices throughout your company that will ensure that all parts are machined according to proven best practices.
The CAM software is available as a standard and a professional version. The latter introduces 3+2 programming, high-speed-machining (HSM), and turning capabilities to SolidWorks.
SprutCAM is a reasonably priced CAM software suite that offers powerful options for programming toolpaths. It is a stand-alone program that features plugins and toolbars to many popular CAD solutions like AutoCAD, Inventor, Onshore, Rhinoceros, and Solidworks.
It supports a wide range of tools like multi-axis milling, lathe, turn mill, EDM machines and machining centers with numeric control. Program multitask turning machines for simultaneous machining of several parts by multiple tools. Therefore, this CAM software is a perfect fit for just about any application you can think of. The post processor mode lets you choose from wide selection of options available to suit most modern machines. While the machining simulation mode emulates how the component will be machined, allowing you to inspect the quality of the workpiece and make changes to the toolpaths accordingly.
Amazingly, SprutCAM even offers support to program industrial robots. Using this CAM software you create complex collision-free 3D movements in native 6 or more axes code. This options also includes all the tools mentioned earlier. And in addition, SprutCAM can simulate the machining of the material and all the robot’s movements in advance to prevent collisions with your other equipment.
Think of CAM software as Slicer software. It is the last step in the design process where you prepare the drawing for production for the machine, be it a milling machine or an FDM 3D printer.
Both processes create objects, but instead of instructing an extruder to add layers filament, CAM software is used to program mills and other tools carve into stock along pre-defined paths objects.
Due to the complex parts achievable with subtractive manufacturing dedicated CAM software tools have been developed that do an excellent job at programming paths for turbines etc.
Advanced CAM software includes as a standard automatic feature recognition. This means the program recognizes features of geometry like holes, pockets and bosses and then automatically specifies the appropriate operations.
Don’t think for a moment that programming for CAM is something that anyone canlearn in sa snap. But state-of-the-art CAM software makes the process more efficient and will save you time and money.
It largely depends on the requirements of your designs, but also on the CAD software you already use. Let’s start with the differences between CAM solution on the market. Today, there are three basic kinds of CAM software:
The perks of CAM capability built-into many CAD software is associativity. This important feature refers to the link between the original CAd design and the toolpaths created by the CAM module. It can be a real time and money saver.
Since the tool paths are linked back to the CAD design, all changes are instantaneously reflected in the tool paths. Meaning, you don’t have to manually re-import the CAD file into an external CAM software and then re-programm the toolpaths from scratch.
As always in live, this approach has its disadvantages. Often, the CAM operations built into CAD program are very basic. Making them not powerful enough to create tool paths for highly complex parts with many features.
Dedicated CAM software on the other hand, is capable of powerful CAM operations that allow creating complex geometries like turbines. The flipside is that the associativity is lost, when the native of the CAD software cannot be imported. So, it is paramount that your CAM software and your CAD program support the same file formats. In many cases, “neutral” formats (industry standards like iges, step, stl) will do the trick.
In the worst case, every change in the design will require that you return to the drawing board, or in other words to the native CAD software and then begin the process of creating tool paths in the CAM software anew.
There is a middle ground between the two solutions described above that offers all the advantages. Many software developers offer CAM plugins that bring comprehensive CAM capabilities to the native CAD software. This way, associativity is retained and users profit from the large array of tools otherwise found in dedicated CAM software.
In our table below, we indicate which CAM software is stand-alone and which is available as a plugin.
License: The text of "12 Best CAM Software Tools for SolidWorks, AutoCAD & Co" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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