CAM Software: The Best Computer-Aided Manufacturing Software For 2020

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Are you shopping for a new manufacturing software? Computer-aided manufacturing software (CAM) might be an option. Similar to shopping for a new washing machine, you need to choose the right software that best aligns with your manufacturing practices. Choose wisely so you can increase productivity and keep your customers happy. Choose poorly, however, and your manufacturing facility could face immense adversity. Fortunately, our SelectHub research team has compiled a complete list of the best CAM software. First, let’s define CAM software and then discuss the typical features found in this manufacturing software.

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Best CAM Software

What is CAM Software?

CAM, in a nutshell, is a program that utilizes computer software to streamline and automate manufacturing processes.

Common Features

Before you pick your ideal CAM Software, it’s critical to understand what features you need. Are you struggling to determine which features are best for you? Our requirements guidelines can offer guidance as you prepare your wishlist. Also, remember that just because a tool is commonly found or recommended, it doesn’t mean that the tool is right for your facility.

  • Machining: Machining is the process of shaping various parts or workpieces into the ideal shape by removing unwanted materials with robust machines. An excellent machining tool allows you to streamline all of your machining needs.
  • Turning: Turning is the process of removing unnecessary materials from workpieces with a turning or cutting machine. This accessory enhances turning machines to increase productivity.
  • Solids: Solid modeling is the method of digitally modeling 3D parts and objects. A useful solids tool allows you to seamlessly create and import models that you’re manufacturing.

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Top CAM Software

Now that you have a fine-tuned list of features and requirements, you can peruse our elaborate list of CAM software.

GibbsCAM

GibbsCAM by 3D Systems caters to computer numerical control (CNC) programmers, machinists, manufacturing engineers and more. CNC is a type of manufacturing process where computers control a machine’s movement (i.e., grinders, lathes, mills, routers, etc.).

It caters to CNC programmers, machinists, and manufacturing engineers, among others. Its capabilities include five-axis machining, a tombstone management system and solids import.

Mill On Various Axes

Milling, or the process of a cutting machine rotating to remove material from workpieces, can be a hassle sometimes. The production milling tool offers programming that supports two-axis through three-axis wireframe machines with functionalities including contouring, pocketing, thread and face milling, 2D/3D spiral creation, tapping and more. It can also support fourth-axis positioning.

Optimize Your Production Turning

The production turning accessory provides various functionalities for two-axis wireframe machining. These functionalities include:

  • Contouring
  • Automatic roughing
  • Multiple hills and valleys
  • Plunge roughing
  • Threading
  • Repetitive shape roughing
  • Drilling
  • Tapping
  • Boring

Advanced responsibilities such as maintaining current stock conditions and lathe programming comprise this module.

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Advanced Solid Capabilities

Keep your solids under control with GibbsCAM’s various solid features. The solids import solution extends entry-level support for manufacturing models. You can read, view and manipulate these solids. Next, the 2.5D Solids tool imports, generates and changes solid models and then crafts programs to machine them. Distinct tools allow you to repair, import and solidify surface data.

Lastly, the SolidSurfer module is a modeling and machining package that features all of GibbsCAM’s modeling tools and the entire list of three-axis matching abilities. The SolidSurfer develops, opens and adjusts computer-aided design (CAD) models and creates a toolpath with ideal shapes, or series of coordinate locations, a cutting machine will follow in the manufacturing process.

Four and Five-Axis Matching

The five-axis accessory performs simultaneous four and five-axis matching with various tool types. The five-axis option provides collision detection and checks gouging for numerous tool shapes with suitable avoidance options.

Optimize Your Tombstone Needs

A tombstone is a two, four or six-sided manufacturing fixture for machining. The fixture is either machined to hold workpieces directly or is mounted with sub-plates for each workpiece to be machined. The tombstone management feature simplifies multi-part setup, programming, toolpath verification and post-processing. This module grants CNC programmers the ability to change and indicate machining strategies and draft G-codes— machine simulation components that educate machines on where and how to move, for various machinery.

GibbsCAM

An example of GibbsCAM’s advanced solid capabilities

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L 

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is a cloud-based 3D CAM/CAD solution for product designers, mechanical engineers and machinists that unify engineering, designing and manufacturing into one platform. Targeted for midsize and large facilities, Fusion 360’s modules include simulation, documentation, data management and more.

Orchestrate Vivid Designs

The design tool enables you to conceive multiple interactive designs in one platform. It offers varying modeling methods and allows you to craft top-notch products. You can develop and revise sketches with constraints, dimensions and a robust set of sketch tools. A lean analysis toolkit can help you supervise intricate splines and curves.

The freeform modeling component allows you to generate complex sub-divisional surfaces with T-splines and boost the density of T-spline faces. The mesh modeling element permits you to repair and revise imported scans or mesh models, including STL and OBJ file formats.

Formulate 3D Models with Ease

The 3D modeling capability enables engineers to oversee the analysis of a product’s form, fit and function to ensure high-quality. The freeform modeling element allows you to make sophisticated sub-divisional exteriors with T-splines and edit them with natural push and pull gestures. You can create sheet metal part components, record flat patterns with 2D drawings and drawing exchange formats (DXF). You can also manufacture designs for water jet, laser and plasma machines with the sheet metal component.

Effortlessly Supervise Data

Thanks to Fusion 360’s data management tool, you’re in charge of who has access to critical data. The user management component grants you the option to include internal and external stakeholders in your creative processes. Project administration allows you to supervise how users can interact with data. The cloud storage element enables you to access your data anywhere on your preferred device. Offline mode allows you to work on important projects when you’re not connected to the internet.

Lastly, the team participant element only allows you to add users to your project atmosphere for data management and collaboration purposes.

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Thorough Documentation of Ideas

You can effectively disclose your designs to internal and external stakeholders with the documentation tool. The 2D manufacturing drawings element enables you to record
manufacturing qualifications with associative drawings of parts and assemblies. You can create photography-like images of your model by utilizing local or cloud rendering. The animation component sufficiently conveys your designs with 3D views and animations to display design assembly.

Simulate Products without Prototypes

The simulation element allows you to test designs for real-world situations without the use of manufacturing prototypes. Thanks to cloud credits, the unit of measure for gauging the cost of various tasks, you can rapidly install numerous simulations and eliminate the need for expensive hardware.

The modal frequency component assists in better understanding the natural frequencies of your systems so you may avoid harmful vibrations. You can study permanent deformations and nonlinear materials in your designs with the nonlinear stress module. Finally, the event simulation feature provides your designs with a variety of impact scenarios to test their durability.

Multi-Axis Manufacturing

Thanks to the manufacturing feature, you can perform high-quality roughing and gain command over your multi-axis machines. The mill-turning feature permits you to combine milling and turning operations to craft more elaborate parts on one machine. The simultaneous five-axis milling element authorizes you to confidently craft complex shapes and achieve top-notch finished surfaces. You can develop toolpaths from sheet metal components with the water jet, laser and plasma cutters.

Finally, the setup probing tool utilizes in-machine touch probes to shift work offsets and streamline your setup process.

Fusion 360

An example of Fusion 360’s 3D modeling feature

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

SOLIDWORKS CAM

SOLIDWORKS CAM constructs designs for manufacturing early in the blueprinting process. This solution works in four versions: standard, professional, machinist standard and machinist professional. Some of its capabilities include knowledge-based machining, automatic feature recognition and part import and modeling.

Varying Modes of Machining

This solution has various machining modes, including rules-based, tolerance-based, knowledge-based and high speed. Rules-based machining emphasizes on the crucial areas of crafting an item instead of focusing on every feature that needs machining. Machine tolerance, also known as dimensional accuracy, is the total deviation of a part’s specific dimension created. The solution has tolerance-based machining capabilities that instantly adjust from asymmetric tolerances to mean tolerances for cutting tool methods.

Knowledge-based machining utilizes knowledge-based engineering (KBE). KBE is a mixture of object-oriented programming, computer-aided design and artificial intelligence to gather and cipher information on machines to automate and enhance the production process. SOLIDWORKS CAM’s knowledge-based machining accessory uses an automatic or interactive feature detection component on parts so it can determine the ideal machining strategies and accessories to formulate the perfect shape. You can preset repeatable machining processes based on your company standards.

High-speed machining is defined as using high spindle speed and feed rate with light milling passes to reach a high metal removal rate. Thanks to VoluMill technology, this high-speed machining tool possesses cohesive pressure throughout the cutting process. The adjustable feed rate permits this module to cut materials at various depths to reduce cycle times. This feature integrates with standard cutting machinery, so you don’t have to worry about unnecessary overhead costs on additional machining tools.

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Simplified Turning Abilities

SOLIDWORKS CAM has several turning capabilities to meet all of your turning needs. These capabilities include:

  • Face rough and finish
  • Rough and finish turn
  • Groove rough and finish
  • Rough and finish bore
  • Cut-off
  • ID and OD threading
  • Drill
  • Tap on center

Other Mentionable Tools

Here are other mentionable features from SOLIDWORKS CAM:

  • Instantaneous Feature Recognition: This accessory pinpoints particular types of part geometry, including holes, pockets, bosses, and turn-professional.
  • Automatic Machine Time Tracking: You can set automatic machine time calculations and compare them to traditional machining processes to guarantee all aspects of a part are accounted for before you commit to manufacturing it.
  • 3 + 2 Programming: This element allows you to execute a machining technique for a three-axis milling program. When a cutting tool is locked in a tilted position, this three-axis milling module allows you to utilize a five-axis machine’s two rotational axes.
  • Import and Model Parts: SOLIDWORKS CAM grants you the ability to create and import parts so you can communicate with designers, read model-based definition (MBD) data and make essential manufacturing revisions.
  • Model and Import Assemblies: Using manufacturing assemblies allows this program to import clamps and vises to ensure your parts are made correctly on the first attempt.

SOLIDWORKS CAM

An example of SOLIDWORKS CAM’s modeling tool

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L 

NX CAM

Siemens’ NX CAM utilizes 3D models, data and processes to link planning and shop floor operations with a digital thread. Notable tools include complex parts machining, mold, die and electrode machining and post-processing and machining simulations.

Develop Intricate Shapes

Thanks to the five-axis machining component, you can generate complex parts with reduced operations and installations. This feature permits you to develop controlled toolpaths for unique machine parts from impellers to engine ports and blisks.

Mold, Die & Electrode Parts

Die, as explained under the noun definition, is a tool or device that imparts a desired shape, form or finish to material or for impressing an object or material. The mold, die and electrode machining tool offers high-speed machining, automated rest-milling and smooth finishing methods to assist in producing faster high-quality tooling. The simple five-axis machining assets can be utilized for mold and die machining to deplete lead time and enhance the production of high-quality parts.
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Simulation and Post-Process Machining

The post-processing and simulation tool enables you to develop numerical control (NC) programs to boost machine tool utilization and production efficiency. NC is the control of a machine or other device by computer, control circuitry or record digital commands. This tool can enhance manufacturing processes and deplete shop floor errors when you utilize the integrated G-code.

Develop and Machine Various Parts

Volume-based milling, feature-based machining and other automated tools in the prismatic parts machining module can deplete programming time. This module can craft whole parts in one setup, enabling you to sync, visualize and streamline machining sequences along a vast amount of channels. When you have a high volume of machine production, this module can help you configure numerous parts over various setups and machines.

NX CAM

An example of NX CAM’s five-axis machining component

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

SolidCAM

SolidCAM manages manufacturing practices and administers CNC milling methods. Some of its features include indexial multi-axis machining, solid probe and advanced mill-turn.

Automatically Recognize Features

Complimenting the 2.5D milling accessory, the robust automatic feature recognition and machining capabilities offer automation and interactive processes. This module identifies and recognizes pockets, chamfers, and holes. The pocket recognition asset parses models in search of all the features identified as pockets (i.e., open pockets, blind packers, through pockets and more). The hole wizard component instantaneously crafts several kinds of holes, including countersink, straight tap, counterbore and legacy hole, among others. The feature recognition tool immediately chamfers, or cuts edges to make them symmetrical.

Machine All Surface Areas

SolidCAM’s high-speed surface machining module contains strong and sleek machining with standard and shaped tools on localized undercuts and surface areas. No need to define boundaries because this module seamlessly selects surfaces in need of machining. The tool is quintessential for all product parts for all shop floors.
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Streamline Mold-Making

The mold machining tool tackles the main issues of the mold-making industry: surface finish, surface accuracy and short delivery times. This accessory has exquisite tool path qualities that work promptly on CAD models. There’s error-free G-Code exchange between machinery and the skill to turn off machine edits so you can create part success in one attempt. The toolpath updates component notifies you immediately of mold changes. You can also work directly on models to ensure exquisite toolpath quality.

Comprehensive Turning Package

The SolidCAM turning component has a complete package of consistent toolpaths and approaches for rapidly efficient turning. This module has a sophisticated rough-and-finish profile turning for facing, grooving, threading and drilling. You are notified of updated stock when the multi-spindle element transfers workpieces from the main spindle to a sub-spindle. You are also alerted with future machining on sub-spindles to guarantee efficient production.

Thoroughly Examine Solids

The solid probe allows you to install and measure the quality of your parts and products on your machine. The machine simulation element enables you to use a solid probe for full visualization of all probe movements. You can seamlessly use this module to pick the ideal shape that you need to measure. A wide range of probe cycles with user-defined parameters comprise this module. You also have full transparency of all your movements in the simulation module.

SolidCAM

An example of SolidCAM’s solid probe tool

Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

That’s All, Folks

This concludes our choices of the best computer-aided manufacturing software. Keep in mind that some of these features may or may not be the right fit for your manufacturing facility. The important thing to remember is to pick the ideal software for your facility and manufacturing practices and best enhance your production rate.

Which CAM software is your first choice, and why? Let us know in the comments!

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Khaleel HayesCAM Software: The Best Computer-Aided Manufacturing Software For 2020

4 comments

Join the conversation
  • Martin tillou - June 30, 2020 reply

    GibbsCAM is the easiest software to learn. With only 4 hours of training I was able to turn a simple part.

    Khaleel Hayes

    Khaleel Hayes - June 30, 2020 reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Martin.

  • Praj Engineers - October 4, 2020 reply

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information. Got a great insight about the various CAM softwares. Solidworks CAM is my first choice.

    Khaleel Hayes

    Khaleel Hayes - October 5, 2020 reply

    I’m glad you found this article useful. Thank you for
    sharing your pick.

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