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Using CAMWorks Material Library will make your life easier

Ever had one of those things on your to-do list that you know you should have done something about a long time ago?

Material Library…
There is a lot of cool things you can spend time learning about in CAMWorks. The material library might not be on your top 5. However there is most likely not a option in CAMWorks that can earn your money back quicker than spending a little time teaching your CAM what data you want applied when setting that CNC in motion.
A list of benefit of spending the next 10min getting familiar with this function could look like this:

1. By limited time spend you can comfortably forget about feeds and speeds when programing your standard parts
2. In conjunction with CAMWorks philosophy, you can teach the Material library how your do things in your shop
3. Picking a Material to machine and the software recognize what machine and conditions you are up against and adjust the feeds and speed accordingly
4. So easy to adjust that it silly not to use
5. Less experienced CAM programmer can easily trust on the software giving them good data

So lets jump in and see what can be done with this CAMWorks feeds&speed tool.

DFMXpress=Your FREE Design For Manufacturing Consulting inside SolidWorks

It will happen, one day you will receive a part that is nearly impossible to manufacture. Not because the part is on the “top secret out of space” difficult level, but because something as simple as an unexperienced engineer/designer did not realize that there is some physics rules that apply to make a design that actually can be manufactured in a very competitive industry.
SolidWorks has a nifty tool that pretty quickly can run an analysis on you part, and provide you with some feedback on some possible manufacturing street bumps, or should I say stop the design in its tracks before its manufacturability becomes too costly.
DFMXpress belongs to the Xpress family that you will find right at top of your Tools dropdown menu right inside SolidWorks.
Who should use this…
This tool is seamlessly integrated into SolidWorks, and will give you an opportunity to apply some basic sets of rules for drilling, milling, turning, sheetmetal and even give you a thickness analysis of a injected plastic parts. This tool was created, fed and raised for manufacturing!
So this tool should defiantly be on the list of CAM programers who gets designs handed to them, and/or if you are one of those young unexperienced engineer/designers…well, this can safe you from having one of those grumpy machinest yelling at you.
What is some of the things it does…
Figuring out how to use it could not be more simple. In SolidWorks go to your Tools dropdown-> Select DFMXpress and when it open in your left panel, Go to the settings tab, select your application, and set your parameters.
DFMXpress has parameters like…
  • Hole Depth to Diameter Ratio.
  • Mill Tool Depth to Diameter Ratio.
  • Minimum Corner Radius (Turn Part).
  • Minimum % Bore Relief (Turn Part).
  • Hole Diameter to Thickness Ratio (Sheet metal).
  • Recommended Bend Radius (Sheet metal).
What really rocks is that if your start looking in the DFMXpress help section you will find what for many has been hard earned advice.
I think we sometimes forget some of these tools excist. Tools that could improve the bottom line should get a fair trial or the result can be loosing parts to the scrap bin.
This being the Xpress version there is a big brother with more options and strength. We will visit DFMPro later for review.

How to add your custom strategy right into CAMWorks techdb

One of the awesome things about CAMWorks is that you can make it your own.
In this post we are going to do a step-by-step video on how you can create custom strategies, so you can easily throw your preferred toolpaths at your features. It is also talking about how you easily can control when CAMWorks is attacking hole diameters.

Be Prepared…
I always recommend that you do a backup of your technology database. As I stated in this video, How to save back your shop knowledge to CAMWorks TechDb I have never seen the database go corrupt, but I have made stupid alterations to my database that made a backup at hand priceless.

Get some strategy in…
Lets stuff some custom strategies and knowledge into that database, shall we?

How to save back your shop knowledge to CAMWorks TechDb

The truth is that there is about 6-8 serious CAM program creators on the market. They are all trying to make a product that fits every CAM programmers needs. It is also a fact that every CAM programmer have their own preferable way of doing things.

One of the things that can really rock your toolpaths in CAMWorks is when you start adding your knowledge to the customizible database.
As a new user it is hard learning a new CAM product while you still are having a “every minute growing” work load to deal with, so luckly you don’t have learn how to customize your database in CAMWorks to start with. It will run fine out of the box.

However if you are looking to make some of those 1’s and 0’s in you computer help making your day easier (~It is ok being lazy with this kind of stuff when working with CAD and CAM~), getting to know your CAMWorks database will be some good time invested.
We are going to deal with some blog post in the future showing some of the neat things that can be stuffed into that CAMWorks database. Today we are going to go through the simple steps of getting some of the repetitious stuff out of the way.
The skinny is that Operation sequences and parameters for each unique feature is stored in the Technology Database, such as you depth of cut, step over distance, lead in/lead out etc. When the Generate Operations command is run, the operation sequence and associated parameters are extracted for the matching feature condition found in the Technology Database and then added to the CAMWorks Operation tree.

The cool thing is…
The way cool thing is, as you will see in this video, you can stuff some of your knowledge and experience into those fancy sequences and parameters.

So if you have CAMWorks on that CAM machine of yours, I’ll recommend you start putting your thumbprint on some of that CAM data of yours :-)

HSMXpress Now Available – Free CAM for SolidWorks

It only took a few days for HSMWorks to follow CAMWorks adding another Xpress (“Light Version”) CAM solution to run inside SolidWorks.

I picked the following feature highlights from the HSMXpress section on HSMWorks website.

What is HSMXpress?
HSMXpress was created to show designers, engineers, and even veteran CNC programmers that integrated CAM not only makes sense, but you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

*HSMXpress requires SolidWorks 2009 or newer; and Microsoft® Windows XP®, Windows Vista®, Windows® 7 (General Release; 64-bit or 32-bit).

*Same 64-bit, Multi-core HSM CAM Kernel as HSMWorks.

*Industry leading toolpath quality for Basic Milling Machining including 2D Roughing and Pocketing, Drilling, Facing, Contouring, and more…

*Incredibly fast 64-bit JavaScript-based Post Processor System including many generic posts.

*All CAM data stored in your Part (.SLDPRT) or Assembly (.SLDASM) files.
(They have listed this twice so it must be important :-))

And from the HSMWorks email newsletter published by NexGenCam(A HSMWorks VAR).
It is fully functional. It includes all 2D Milling toolpaths, including our powerful 2D Adaptive Clearing technology. It will simulate, post process and transmit G-code to your machine and includes the most common CNC machine post processors.
If you have SolidWorks and agree to a simple and sensible licensing agreement you can use HSMXPress commercially, privately or in an educational institute. Learn. Have fun. Make money.

As I stated in my CAMWorksXpress conclusion, this product is defiantly worth testing out if you are looking for some basic CAM.
As to compare HSMXpress vs. CAMWorksXpress well, HSMXpress is free…

(We have talked about HSMWorks here on cadcamstuff before. Check out this list if interested).

CAMWorks introducing an Xpress version

With LET’S GO MANUFACTURE! spelled out on CAMWorksXpress website I think you can say that the express lane has been paved for this CAMWorks “light” version.

I picked out the following FAQ’s from CAMWorksXpress website.

What is CAMWorksXpress?
CAMWorksXpress is the new and easy to use CAM package that offers seamless integration within SolidWorks and the flexibility to explore and utilize the highly powerful features required for machining your parts efficiently.

Is SolidWorks required to run CAMWorksXpress?
Yes. Currently CAMWorksXpress is available only as an add-in on SolidWorks.

What are the supported operating systems?
CAMWorksXpress is a Windows operating system based software program. It is designed to run on both 32-bit and 64-bit Vista and Win 7 operating systems running either SolidWorks 2010 or 2011.

Is there a demo/trial version available?
Yes, we offer free 30-days trial version (both 32-bit and 64-bit) of CAMWorksXpress. Before downloading the trial version, you need to register on our website . Click on the ‘Download free demo’ icon to access the free download of our powerful CAM software.

How do I get technical support for CAMWorksXpress?
We provide effective email support. For any technical assistance or query, write to us at

How can I buy CAMWorksXpress?
CAMWorksXpress can be purchased online. Visit our website, register and click on the link: ‘Buy Now’

And the price?…

This product is defiantly worth testing if you are looking for some basic CAM. The website is set up to for fill some nice valid content with video tutorials, blog and a user forum. challenges you!

According to my trusted source, Wikipedia, it is estimated that there was spend more than 500 billion dollars on advertising in 2010. Now as a “middle aged man”(Also according to Wikipedia) I would like to believe that this expensive, but rather often simple propaganda are below my intelligence for having much effect.

I will have to admit that a casual flipping through one of my favorite trade magazines, the advertising agent did a fabulous job grabing my attention and fully direct it to their ad.

Can you make this part?
Well there I am, kids are screaming of hunger, the dog needs go outside, and I am sitting studying an advertising showing something that is suppose to pretend to look like a manufacturing quote, silently saying to myself, Sure I can!

So I decided to record a couple of videos. One creating this part in SolidWorks, and then follow up with one that machines that SolidWorks part using CAMWorks right inside SolidWorks. But before we go any further it might be in its place to discover who is in case you are not familiar with this online tool. Explaining that the easiest and proably most accurate is to direct you to about on their website.
Can you make this part using SolidWorks?

Can you make this part using CAMWorks?

So that part was not that hard. Of course we could do that part in SolidWorks and CAMWorks. If the part had been too hard I would probably never went this far. The magic of good advertising :-).

Surprise!…CAMWorks 2012 is here!…So what’s new?

CAMWorks users has a reason to smile a little extra this fall as they got their major release a few months earlier this time around.
CAMWorks has decided to roll their 2012 release back closer to SolidWorks 2012 release, instead of offering a service pack for compatibility to SolidWorks newest version. This decision should make life easier for customers, as they now can upgrade in a bundle.

So what is in the 2012 basket of new and good stuff?

Pin/Unpin Property Manager Pages…

CAMWorks has added the Pin/Unpin switch, known to SolidWorks users as a neat single or multiple interactions function.
At this point the following dialogs will have this functionality:
1. Insert Multi-surface Feature
2. Insert Wrapped Feature
3. Insert 2.5X EDM Feature
4. Insert 4X Feature
5. Insert Turn Feature
6. Insert Operations (including Mill, Turn and EDM operations)

Ease of managing tools for Mill/Mill-Turn…

CAMWorks continues to add functions for quick access to the powerful customisable database. This version gives the programmer a change to save some time adding and editing tools right from the machine definition dialog box.

Improved Functions…

1. Performance of Saving Files with Large Amount of Tool Paths. (They tested this with files containing more than 1.5 million toolpath moves, Ouch.)

2. Contain/Avoid Area Display. (One of my favorite tools, got a nice face lift.)

3. VoluMill Toolpath. (Update to VoluMill version 4.0. This is a must if you remove a lot of material.)

4. Improved Performance and Recognition in Mfg View. (CAMWorks does very well with Feature Recognition, and they keep on making it better.)

5. Z-level sorting of Recognized Features. (Feature Recognition will actually order the appropriate Z levels in a mill pocket.)

6. Turn Feature Definition. (Giving you the option for selecting traditional “Plane” selection or this new “Revolved” selection for turn profile.)

7. Turn Approach Move Control. (Provides the ability to define the turn approach moves as either rapid or feed motion.)

8. User Defined Turn Inserts. (User Defined Turn inserts can now also be used in Turn Rough, Groove Rough, Bore Rough and Face Rough operations in addition to the existing finish operations.)

One can assume that this list is going to be shorter compared to past years, as CAMWorks developers had their cycle shorten by months, and rightfully so. Now we might hope that a delicious Service Pack is intended in the beginning of 2012… Yes, as always we want more! :-).

One important thing to add is that CAMWorks is following SolidWorks by announcing 2012 also is going to be their last version supported by Windows XP.

SolidWorks Presents CAD/CAM SLAM!

SolidWorks has been shining the light on their integrated “Gold” CAM products with a special webinar series the last few months.
Tomorrow is CAMWorks turn to put on the Ray Ban’s and sun lotion. If your company is a 3D SolidWorks house who has to communicate with a CAM interface you might want to schedule a little time in your afternoon (US Eastern Time). To discover how SolidWorks 1st “Gold” CAM partner can slam your world with integrated CAM.

I have to admit that my internet search skills has let me down this time. Some of these CAD/CAM SLAM! webinar’s missed my radar.

March 23th Solidcam
April 27th Delcam
May 12th Mastercam

And I really haven’t had much luck finding anyone of them online. I have reached out to SolidWorks since they are always so helpful. My thought is that a SolidWorks CAD/CAM SLAM! category would be really cool here on cadcamstuff. So if you read this post and know where I can get a hold of your CAM products CAD/CAM SLAM! video, I would truly appreciate it. Maybe we can even do a compare and share of what and which functions we like with the different products, that sounds fun for everyone, right?

The CAMWorks Handbook (Milling)

To wrap your head around modern CAM options and functionalities can be a frustrating task, especially if sitting in front of a computer with a waiting CNC machine sitting on the shop floor hungry for some NC code.
It dosent really matter if you are a seasoned CAM guru changing CAM system or a new CAM guy privileged to enter the Computer Aided Manufacturing world, somehow you need to travel down the street of learning.

CAMWorks just added its first book for the toolbox of learning tricks.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book about a month ago for evaluation with two task ahead. One as to decide if this book possible could be used as education material for our CAMWorks classes at CADimensions, and two for me to write a review here. So lets get to it…
The book is written by Mike Buchli, a 11 year veteran Application Engineer at one of the top US SolidWorks resellers Tridaq. Mike is an Elite AE since 2009, a title SolidWorks only hands out the Navy Seals of SolidWorks swordsmen. But probably more important for the level of integrity of the book, Mike is also a certified CAMWorks knight. To make a long story short, Mike knows what he is doing when it comes to CAD and CAM.

When it comes to CAM there is really not many different roads to choose from. 2D or 3D and how many axis, but as you head down the road you will find that modern CAM packages offer a overwhelming amount of options and switches.
I really like how the book starts out in a “Best Practice” how and about the basics of creating toolpath. Starting with the 1st few lessons gives some basic CAMWorks skills with added tips and information.

…This is also a good time to point out, that when CAMWorks runs feature recognition it isn’t reading the actual features created in Solidworks. CAMWorks looks at a solid as one piece of geometry, and then divides out the pieces to create features that CAMWorks can process. This is also why it is possible to use “feature recognition” on components that is imported into SolidWorks from file types like “igs” and “step”…

From there on the book switches from more a piece of learning material to a “Handbook” or should I say helpful “desk reference” that digs deep down in the different options. Covering from 2.5 axis through 5 axis milling.

As Mike say in his introduction…

…The idea is to not only learn CAMWorks, but have a quick, easy to use reference guide that can be utilized in the everyday workplace…

I will have to say that Mike has exactly done that.

So unless you totally rule CAMWorks and memorized all the tips, tricks and option I will recommend you check out