An introduction to SOLIDWORKS CAM and some of its core features.

Over the past few years SOLIDWORKS has brought on a number of different solutions to their design suite.  With so many great partner products available, SOLIDWORKS hadn’t felt the need to provide a native CAM solution. Well, not anymore.  With the 2018 release, any customer on subscription will have access to SOLIDWORKS CAM!

The first question you may have is, “where did this product come from?”  Well, as some of you know, CADimensions has been selling CAMWorks for a number of years due to its seamless integration in SOLIDWORKS.  SOLIDWORKS thought the same thing when they decided to bring on CAMWorks under the SOLIDWORKS umbrella.  SOLIDWORKS CAM is powered by CAMWorks and looks consistent with legacy CAMWorks.  SOLIDWORKS did update the user interface a bit and refined the product as a whole.

SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard will be included with every seat of SOLIDWORKS on current subscription.  SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional will be a secondary purchase that is available for all customers, on or off maintenance.  The functionality that is included with SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard is 2.5 machining for parts only.  SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional will include everything in CAM Standard along with 4th & 5th axis pre-positioning, high speed machining, assembly machining and turning.

If you currently own CAMWorks there will be a path to transition over to SOLIDWORKS CAM if you prefer to do so.  There are some reasons to transition to SOLIDWORKS CAM, like the new Technology Database, but we will discuss that in a minute.

SOLIDWORKS CAM delivers fully integrated, knowledge based CNC programming right inside SOLIDWORKS. Using Automatic Feature Recognition, standard operations and strategies defined with your own best practices including step over, cut depth, tool type and size are instantly applied to the model, freeing up your time to focus on critical areas of the part.

Since SOLIDWORKS CAM is a feature-based CAM package, Automatic Feature Recognition generates the features found on the geometry in order to apply toolpaths.  This saves time from having to do create every toolpath manually.  When SOLIDWORKS CAM runs automatic feature recognition it does not look at the SOLIDWORKS features found within the part.  SOLIDWORKS CAM analyzes the geometry in order to apply its own machining features.  This means that the automation powers of SOLIDWORKS CAM can be used on imported models.

At any time, additional machining operations can be manually created using the SOLIDWORKS model geometry. Faces to machine and areas to avoid can be defined using the comprehensive suite of selection options, eliminating the need to create additional reference geometry on the part.

Applying features manually is as easy as selecting faces within the model.  If you want more control over the machining area you can utilize SOLIDWORKS sketches for toolpaths, contain and avoid areas, as well as entry points and much more.

The powerful Technology Database in SOLIDWORKS CAM applies default machining methodologies that are based on your preferences.  Being able to save your tool selection, machining strategies, as well as Feeds and Speeds back to the database allows SOLIDWORKS CAM to be smarter when applying toolpaths in the future.   The more you save back to the database, the less work you have to do when you run across something similar in the future.  One enhancement over CAMWorks is that the Technology database now runs in Sequel.  This allows for much more functionality and stability within the database over Microsoft access.  This is one huge reason to transition to SOLIDWORKS CAM from CAMWorks. The new database is shown below!

Using SOLIDWORKS CAM’s powerful simulation capabilities, cutter paths can be previewed and compared against the original model, helping you identify any potential problems, or areas requiring further refinement, long before the physical part is machined. Check out the screenshot below to see SOLIDWORKS CAM’s simulation with the comparison tool enabled.

Being able to see if you are gouging the part or leaving extra material is extremely helpful when creating toolpaths.  Seeing if the shank, holder, or tool run in to the stock are additional features of the SOLIDWORKS CAM simulation.

Any changes made to the SOLIDWORKS design can be instantly applied to your machining operations, and cutter paths, making it quick and easy to evaluate parts for manufacture much earlier in development.  A simple dimension change prompts the following message.

Since SOLIDWORKS has brought on CAMWorks they have made some changes to the software for the 2018 version.  Obviously we already discussed the Sequel Technology Database but another one of my favorite features is a coordinate system function directly within the SOLIDWORKS CAM Feature Tree.

Not only is this something that users requested they also updated how it works.  If you are a CAMWorks user you know the process of selecting an entity to use for the zero point but check out what it looks like in SOLIDWORKS CAM.

SOLIDWORKS CAM delivers powerful knowledge based CNC Programming for Part and Assembly, Milling and Turning, that provides a single integrated solution from design to manufacture.

Now you can integrate your design and manufacturing processes all under one system.