Are CAD and CAM Users Frustrated with Each Other?
Kyle Maxey posted on October 09, 2015 |

In a recent eBook report, “Fear of the CAD/CAM Combo,” Business Advantage polled a number of engineering firms around the globe with hope of understanding how companies employ CAD and CAM solutions together — if at all.

Top 8 frustrations for CAM users
Top 8 frustrations for CAM users

Toward the end of the survey, Business Advantage outlined the top eight frustrations that plague CAM operators these days.

  1. Defining machining strategy
  2. Generating the final G-code with a post processor
  3. Machine tool and tooling configuration
  4. Using CAD without GD&T
  5. Generating machining parameters
  6. Defining orientation in CAM
  7. Running CAM simulation
  8. Accepting native and neutral file formats

While a number of these issues can certainly be time consuming or confusing, when it comes to CAM operation, what stuck out to me was how many of these problems are so rudimentary. Maybe I’ve just been working with software that’s a cut above the rest, but defining a machining strategy, configuring tooling, setting up machining parameters, running simulation and generating machine-specific G-code shouldn’t be a frustration.

For each of these frustrations, software such as Mastercam and Fusion 360 (those are the CAM programs I use) provide simple menus, configuration windows, or easy-to-view simulations that make transforming a metal blank into a final part as easy as a click of a mouse (often times it’s also followed by few key strokes). While I haven’t used NX CAM or SolidCAM, I can only imagine that they behave similarly to the feature-based CAM that I use.

What’s most puzzling about this survey is that respondents also identified what software they use. A full 42 percent of respondents said that they used a feature-based CAM software and a vast majority of that group used embedded CAM software.

Sure, I can imagine that on any job there can be times when a software makes milling a complex feature a bit of a pain, but 99.99 percent of the time the software is able to orient, program and export an NC file that will accurately create a part without any hassle.

That being said, if your client hands you a file that’s been built in a funky CAD package, or it doesn’t have proper dimensioning and tolerancing, then no CAM program in the world is going to save you.

Lets just hope that’s not your fate. Otherwise, it still seems to me that frustrations with CAD/CAM combos might be a bit overstated. But read the “Fear of the CAD/CAM Combo” eBook report and form your own opinion.


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