I guess it is alright being late to the party if you are the only one who knows there is one.
Delcam for SolidWork Xpress (DelcamXpress as I choose to call it) has been out since May 2013 but hasn’t gotten nearly the same attention as when HSMWorks released their free version back in 2011. With HSMWorks being bought by Autodesk one could question how long this product will be supported on the SolidWorks platform, and therefore a look at this 2.5 Axis Free CAM might be in its place.
1st thing to point out is that DelcamXpress does all its work in a SolidWorks Assembly mode. This gives you the option to also include fixture, vises, tables etc.
I also like to point out that the software easily takes you through the steps of selection your stock (Solid Body, Bounding Box, Bounding Cylinder, Selected Edges and Centered Block) and gives you really good options to select and control your pickup point(Work Coordinate, G54 etc).
Your selection for toolpaths is pretty basic. “Hole” and “Face” should be easy enough to understand.
“Side” is side milling, but also here you can select SolidWorks sketches as such you can borrow with “Convert Entities” and of course create your own.
“Feature” toolpath can be used to quickly select your cuts if the SolidWorks model has been created with machine intent. Such as a cut in SolidWorks is also directly a mill pocket.
Last one is “Setup” this option will let you create more than one setup (Have not tested to see if this could be used for an indexing move).
Creating toolpaths and navigating through the menus has a nice flow to it. The biggest thing is you are picking the same faces to machine as was created doing the design, by selecting those SolidWorks faces. No Import/Export into another software, conversion of data etc.
For my short dry-run all the normal parameters (or Attributes as Delcam calls it) for adjustments was found easy at hand, and the tool manager has a good starting point of tools with options to add your own.
DelcamXpress has similarities to the SolidWorks FeatureManager Tree. Easy to oversee and you can drag and drop operations.
Also worth to note that the stock removal simulation is pleasant to the eye.
DelcamXpress even has gouge protection as I might experienced once or twice
Free learning tools are right at hand via the SolidWorks taskpane and Delcam’s yourtube channel. With a list of very useful videos getting you up quickly.
I believe you get what you pay for most of the time, but it has been proven that plenty of people can get by with free CAM. I think that is awesome! So if you are tinkering around with things where this would be a fit, only a little learning time will be needed to be machining steel.
Another thought could be you are a standalone kinda CAM guy who would like to see what all of this integrated CAM is about.
All I can say is go download it. It is free http://www.delcamforsolidworks.com/xpress/
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