A CNC Machine Is Only as Good as Your Ability to Program It
Andrew Wheeler posted on July 17, 2017 | 2756 views

If you aren’t familiar with how instructions get from a CAD design in software like AutoCAD, SOLIDWORKS, Solid Edge and Autodesk Inventor to a CNC machine of your choosing, there are many different standalone CAM software packages that you should check out to help you understand the transition. These are the software that translate your CAD design into toolpaths for CAM machining on CNC machines. CIM-TECH is a company founded 30 years ago on the principle of simplifying this transition by making software to transfer CAD design information and commands to CNC machines.

Last year’s Router-CIM (Computer-Integrated Manufacturing) 2017 software was particularly useful for AutoCAD practitioners, in that all toolpaths made and saved in AutoCAD could be saved with commands, which eliminated the need to save drawings to older AutoCAD versions or transfer to DXF (Drawing Exchange Format; used to ensure that there are no interoperability issues).

The main benefit about a software like Router-CIM 2017 is that having one system to use and learn could reduce the amount of time it takes for users to acclimate to this singular design-to-manufacture workflow. Analogous benefits include support for most machine controllers (the basic substance of a CNC system that reads coded instructions, decodes them and implements circular, helical and linear interpolations to create axis motion commands) and the ability to write custom scripts to help skip steps (depending on the job, machine shop, etc.) and create advanced nesting features (nesting is the process of laying out cutting patterns to minimize subtracted material waste).

Router-CIM 2018

The latest version, Router-CIM 2018, includes some handy new features for machinists and will be unveiled at the Association of Woodworking and Furniture Suppliers (AWFS) Fair, which is being held in Las Vegas later this month.

A first look at Router-CIM 2018, the latest version of CIM-TECH’s software for CNC machines, which will be at the AWFS Fair,booth 9438, happening July 19 to 22 in Las Vegas. (Image courtesy of CIM-TECH.)
A first look at Router-CIM 2018, the latest version of CIM-TECH’s software for CNC machines, which will be at the AWFS Fair,booth 9438, happening July 19 to 22 in Las Vegas. (Image courtesy of CIM-TECH.)

In addition to some improved functionality with multilevel pocketing, there is a new numeric control variable (NCVAR) interface and better labeling. The ability to customize parts during production runs on the Windows-style interface should be easier for the following reasons:

  1. Upgraded multilevel pocketing means faster material removal. Faster material removal means faster cycle times.
  2. A new Router-CIM label designer with a relatively simple user interface allows users of any skill level to print barcodes, graphics and text in a brief period.
  3. A better reporting system has been added that allows for cycle time adjustments to be made on each machine, giving users better information on cycle times, tool usage and other data that could afford more control over CNC production cells.
  4. A simpler NCVAR interface that allows users to customize features of Router-CIM Automation Suite. This includes simplified add, edit and delete tools that give users more control over advanced programming features.
To learn more, visit the Router-CIM 2018 product page.


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