Since the release of SOLIDWORKS CAM a few months back, we here at Alignex have received lots of questions about what the new software package has to offer. We decided it was finally time to just sit down and hammer out some of the most commonly asked questions in order to make it clearer how SOLIDWORKS CAM would fit into your current workflow.
What is SOLIDWORKS® CAM?
SOLIDWORKS® CAM Powered by CAMWorks® is a fully integrated, Knowledge Based technology that allows us to integrate design and manufacturing processes under one system. This allows us to evaluate designs earlier in the process, avoiding unexpected costs and delays in finishing products on time. It leverages the rich content in the 3D CAD model to speed up product development and reduce error prone, time-consuming, repetitive manual steps in the current development process, like programming CNC machines. Knowledge Based Machining (KBM) is the foundation for streamlining the programming process, learning as you program which frees up time to focus on the critical areas of the components. SOLIDWORKS CAM is 2.5 axis milling and turning. 2.5 axis will also cover Laser, Waterjet and Plasma cutting.
What functionality is included with the different SOLIDWORKS CAM Packages?
- SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard:
- 2.5 Axis Milling for Parts.
- Feature-Based Machining with Feature Recognition
- Area Clear Roughing, Flat Area, and Z Level Finishing
- NC Editor with Backplotting - Powered by CIMCO
- Integrated Tolerance Based Machining (TBM)
- SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional: Includes all the features in SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard plus the following.
- 2.5 Axis Milling for Assemblies
- CNC Turning for Lathes
- Multiple CAM Configurations
- 3+2 Machining
- High-Speed Roughing (VoluMill)
How do we get a SOLIDWORKS CAM package?
- SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard: SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard is available to all SOLIDWORKS Standard, Professional, and Premium licenses running SOLIDWORKS 2018 that are on Subscription Support.
- SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional: Available via purchase through your local Alignex Sales Representative.
How is SOLIDWORKS CAM Installed?
- Standard: SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard is tied to the SOLIDWORKS Serial Number. We only need to install SOLIDWORKS 2018 with the SOLIDWORKS Serial Number and Activate the new Version. Once the software is open, we can Enable/Disable the Add-In for use under Tools->Add-Ins.
- Professional: SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional will come with a separate Serial Number from SOLIDWORKS. There is an entry for the SOLIDWORKS CAM Serial Number in the Installation Manager. Once the software is open and SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional has been Activated, we can Enable/Disable the Add-In for use under Tools->Add-Ins.
Is SOLIDWORKS CAM available for Network Licensing?
Yes. The SOLIDWORKS CAM assets will be automatically added to any SOLIDWORKS assets on a Network Serial Number. SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional licenses can be Network assets as well.
What Post-Processors are available for SOLIDWORKS CAM?
SOLIDWORKS CAM will ship with a generic list of posts for common machines.
What if we do not have one of the Generic posts included, or the Generic needs adjustment?
- CAMWorks Universal Post Generator: Users will have access to the CAMWorks Universal Post Generator application that will give them the ability to create a new post processor with a simple user interface. It can be downloaded for free.
- Custom Post-Processor: Users can contact their Alignex Sales Representative to get a certified post. The post processor will be the same as CAMWorks uses today.
What are the options if we need a 3, 4, or 5 Axis CAM solution?
The SOLIDWORKS Partner Program has over 40 CAM specific vendors. Since SOLIDWORKS CAM is powered by CAMWorks, the data between the two systems will be compatible. The programming information is stored in the SOLIDWORKS part and assembly file. The only external files will be the saved g-code and setup information.
Is there Training available for SOLIDWORKS CAM?
- Classroom Training: There is a SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard Essentials training course. Contact your Allgnex Sales Representative for any inquiries.
- Online Training: SOLIDWORKS is currently working on video content that will be available in My.SolidWorks.com.
So there you have it! SOLIDWORKS CAM is sure to streamline your workflow and eliminate the costly errors that can sometimes occur when manually programming your CNC machines.
Written by Mike Dady
Mike Dady is an Application Engineer at Alignex, Inc. Mike spends his days working with customers to resolve their manufacturing issues and helps them to improve on existing product designs. If he’s not solving customer challenges, he’s probably at home customizing his snowmobile or working on a home improvement project.