Mentioned at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 by CEO Gian Paolo Bassi—almost under his breath—was what sounded like the most significant strategy change for the leading professional MCAD company. He casually referred to SOLIDWORKS CAM. Was SOLIDWORKS now also a CAM company? Have the worlds of mechanical design and manufacture just merged?
The news set off a couple of tweets, a rather mild reaction to a potentially ground-shaking change in strategy. A frantic search to find something (anything) ensued. There was nothing on the company website.
It turns out the announcement was a bit premature. We found out later, SOLIDWORKS CAM (which hopefully will not be shortened to SCAM) will only be going into beta in April, said Mike Buchli, the newly appointed manager for the yet-to-be-released product. Mike was revealing all he could down the hallway (including Benefits of Integrated CAM and - you have to register to watch) and trying to manage expectations. For example, don’t expect to see it until SOLIDWORKS 2018 later this fall. Pricing and availability (as in, what version of SOLIDWORKS will have it) are still to be determined.
Preview of SOLIDWORKS CAM. (Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.)
What Else We Found Out
It is a new product—but based on an existing one. Dassault Systèmes will be licensing the software from Geometric. It will be branded SOLIDWORKS, with “powered by” under the product name.
Dassault Systèmes is not acquiring CAMWorks or any of its code, any intellectual property or any part of the company that is producing it (Geometric).
Geometric is the first certified Gold CAM product for SOLIDWORKS, according to the Dassault Systèmes website.
SOLIDWORKS CAM has 2.5D machining. For more advanced milling, users will need to get third-party help.
SOLIDWORKS CAM adds tolerance-based modeling, which has been available in the Geometric product.
SOLIDWORKS CAM is not planning to make the interface between CAD and CAM any easier than it is already. As a Gold partner, products must already be usable from within the SOLIDWORKS user interface.
What We Don’t Know
What effect will this have on current CAM partners? Searching for “CAM” in the extensive partner list brings up 127 products, including 16 other Gold partners such SolidCAD, BobCAD, hyperMILL, Mastercam and MecSoft. Bringing Geometric into the family caused some concern on the exhibit floor, to say the least, leaving every CAM vendor feeling left out. Buchli knew about none of it. “I’ve had only positive feedback from our partners,” said Buchli.
Will SOLIDWORKS CAM need a design engineer to be a machinist? CAM programs come from the manufacturing world. Terms like G-code, speeds and feeds are foreign to engineers. That’s why CAD users attempting CAM hit roadblocks.
“This product will have rules-based machining, already familiar to SOLIDWORKS users,” said Buchli.
For more information, visit the SOLIDWORKS website.