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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?

What’s New CAMWorks 2011 Turning.

This is the third and final CAMWorks What’s New 2011, and we are talking turning baby! Though this list a smaller than the milling, I think you will find a couple of things that will make you happy if turning is your thing. Also check out previous “What’s New General Operations” and “What’s New Milling”.
User Defined Turn Inserts…
This should help putting a smile on your face. We can now draw up our custom lathe inserts in SolidWorks and use them for accurate verification.

(~We will look into this defining custom tooling stuff in the near future~)

Enhanced Turn WIP Support…
The use of WIP (Work In Progress~A live stock calculation method) for decreased rapid moves in turning is pretty cool. You now actually have multiple options to determine how the previous operation’s WIP model is considered for the current operation.

Turn Rough Leadin/Leadout…
You now have some more control over how your lead-in/lead-out gets applied doing your roughing operation. I have to admit that I am not lathe knowledge enough to pin point where this has its big advantage, so I would sure appreciate if someone with the knowledge could share it in the comment section.

Turn Insert Angle Clearance…
I think this option is pretty handy doing roughing. Now say goodbye to unnecessary insert vibrations and insert life. Put in a insert clearance angle, and CAMWorks will walk off the part in an angular path reducing the amount the insert gets buried perpendicular surface.

Turn Simulation Cross Section….
This is intersting. The CAMWorks What’s New document states this is a new function. I am not sure… I Thought this was available in the 2010 package. Should it has stated “Improved” instead of “New” or am I just loosing my mind? I’ll might have to contact For now lets just pretend that I am wrong… :-).
So this new 2D Planer section view is the most accurate of the section views in simulation. (From CAMWorks What’s New…)

Because this section view is 2d planer, the accuracy of the display more closely resembles actual machining results.

And if Compared is used the results are also based on the same 2d section.

I think this was some alright lathe enhancements to close out our “What’s New in CAMWorks 2011” Someone might ask about…WEDM…Sorry folks, nothing new there for this year…Should there have been?…What’s needed?…Let the sparks fly!

What’s New CAMWorks 2011 Milling

We are digging deep to see what is new when CAM’ing inside SolidWorks with gold partner CAMWorks. Today we are looking at what refreshments are avaliable in the the milling corner. Also check out “What’s New General Options” and “What’s New Turning” post.
MfgView is taking over…
If you have been roaming around the CAMWorks milling options you will now see that MFgView is default instead of AFR. According to CAMWorks there improving of the algorithm for MfgView can result in 40% more feature findings than last years AFR. Now to me this has to be in the category of improvements worth a maintenance fee.

(Stealing an explanation of AFR and MfgView from the CAMWorks help)

When AFR is selected, CAMWorks analyzes the SolidWorks solid model and identifies two-dimensional prismatic and tapered wall machinable features. Except for changing the Strategy, these features cannot be edited.

CAMWorks uses an alternative method to generate features and finds additional feature types not found by AFR. Non-hole features can be edited the same as interactively inserted features.

Mirror with Climb & Conventional Control…
It is easy to mirror in CAMWorks and now you have the option to decide if you want climb or conventional on your copy. You are right…The year 2011 you should have that option, and that is why CAMWorks hands it to you.

Start Point Support of In-to-Out Optimization…
For 2 Axis Milling operations the Optimize tab is handy for automated toolpath sorting to minimize tool travel from feature to feature. And now you got this feature enhanced so it is now possible to select a start hint for these methods of optimization.

Insert Multi-Surface Feature On Insert Setup…
No doubt that CAMWorks missions is to give you the tools to quickly and easly add toolpaths to your solid model. This new feature should save you a good handful of mouse clicks on standard surface milling operations.

Insert Operation Command…
Inserting new operation from the operation tree on already calculated features has always been a clever idea, however in the past the menus where a little confusing and not user friendly at all. 2011 dishes up some nice new refreshing menus here.

Contain/Avoid Areas for Single Point Operations…
The Contain/Avoid feature is one of my favorites. It is easy sketching in SolidWorks, and with a few sketches you are controlling your toolpath areas. Having this handy option available for single point operations is not just nice, it is now a must.

Feedrate Changes without Toolpath Regeneration…
Sure a nice touch that you don’t have to wait and struggle with toolpath regeneration every time you decide to change your feedrate or spindle speed.

VoluMill Highspeed Roughing…
This is an option…an option you will have to pay $ for. This is something you should look into if you are doing a lot of material removal . I am planing on a dedicated post about this feature in the future, until then check out there website.

Defiantly some new and improved features that should make for some faster programing. Picking the “Insert Multi-Surface Feature On Insert Setup” and “Contain/Avoid Areas for Single Point Operations” as my favorites.

What’s new in CAMWorks 2011 General Operations

Another version of CAMWorks has been released for some serious fun of machining to take place inside SolidWorks. The version is 2011 and if your plans for this year is to decrease the amount of programing time, this version has plenty of new and improved features to get you there. Also Check out “What’s New Milling” and “What’s New Turning”.
Create Feature Conditions within CAMWorks
One of your favorite things about CAMWorks has to be how this software crunching numbers and toolpath conditions from its Access database while rocking inside SolidWorks. New for 2011 is a very cool option to “Save Operation Plan..” from the CAMWorks Feature Tree.

This new function lets you quickly make changes to your CAMWorks Access Database. This really gives you 2 nice options.
1). You have found yet again that you are making the same changes over and over again, like changing the default endmill size to your favorite 1/2 endmill or the parallel leadin to the fancy arc leadin. Well with your changes in place you can easly save this data back to your database with this feature.
2). It is simply the right time to add some more automated knowledge into the Access Database. As I like to say, taking the software and make fit more into your way of doing things than regular CAM does. So now you can set up new feature conditions from this window.

New…Edit and lock those toolpaths info feedback
Not new that you can edit and lock your toolpath, but it is nice when the software are feeding us with easy info on what we done and tell is what has happened and going to happen.
Edit a toolpath…

And you have the purple color telling you it is locked but also very handy a note telling you that the actually toolpath was hand edited(Very helpful if more than one person could be handling this file!)

Spiced up menus and icons…
According to the “What’s New Document” CAMWorks is on a continued task of upgrading there menus to fit in the SolidWorks Property format, and making icons easier on the eyes. (Wonder how come this has taken this long).

Some Tool Crib sorting…
Got some snazzy header modification available for the tool crib. Ascending, descending, reorder and hide functions.

License Borrowing…
Floating license users can borrow specific license for external use. This has to be a fantastic function when you need to bring your CAM with you on your next 6 days cruise.

Simulate and Step Thru Toolpath…
This could defiantly become a favorite function. It just need one more trick up its sleeve…Re-generate tool operation!. CAMWorks has added these two taps in the upper right corner of the “Edit Definition…” menu, so you can quickly jump out and verify or step through that operations toolpath. As is now it can defiantly be helpful if you need a refresher on what it did before you entered the “Edit Definition…” but at this point you still have to jump out of the operation to Re-generate the tool operation, so you can not see your changes live. Pray for next service pack.

How was that for enhancements on General Operations? Some new functions and fun tools. Also Check out “What’s New Milling” and “What’s New Turning”.

SolidWorks Electrical Routing, When kicking it up a notch!

If the above picture seems familiar chances are you have been lassoed in for a routing demo, either your local reseller visited your facility, or you spend a joyful evening at one of the awesome SolidWorks User Group meetings. There is no doubt that “drag and drop” components from the design library mixed with easy route and wiring dialog boxes makes this package a great enhancement to SolidWorks.

But what when we need to go bigger…
One thing that is sure about the engineering world is that the pushing the envelope is the fuel for success, and sometimes a quick “drag and drop” solution is kindergarden stuff. We need to grow up a little, a little more organized. As SolidWorks has been there through the years helping your 3D needs, this add-in also has tools to to wire you through bigger projects.

SolidWorks 2011 Routing got a new and improved Routing Library Manager. This is like a ticket office for you to take a ride on easy wizard controlled routing builder and organizers.

The idea is that you can setup, construct and edit components, cables and wires for your specific needs. Something that is pretty sweet especially if you stay connected to the fabiules internet, since your electric components providers has been very gentle by sharing a lot of 3D models on there websites, and of course SolidWorks own 3DContentcentral that is a heaven of 3D parts free for download.

I really like that you can export the custom made From-To list out to Excel, for then finish it there by adding Excel magic and pisace, and then bringing it back into SolidWorks for continuing the automation.

And with easy use menus you can quickly convert your electric madness to a flatten schematic for your drawing.

With an add-on that don’t cost more than many American households have budgeted for there kids yearly sports events, you surly do get some sweet tools to attack the job with the SolidWorks Routing package. I should add that this package also hold piping and tubing tools under the hood, something that could be fun to look into another day.

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

Tools to make your drawing spectacular in SolidWorks 2011

With everyday revolved around the 3D world it is kind of funny that when it comes down to actually manufacturing these 3D goodness we still hand out a detailed 2D drawing to the craftsman. A true detailed manufacturing drawing is a true piece of art, and yes it is all about the details. But less face it, these days when we have finished our 3D models the time portfolio is pretty much used up for our projects, and the time to make that fabulous detailed 2D print comes down to overtime. SolidWorks have added a couple of nice drawing features in there latest version of there CAD package.
I think this is important! Not because users most likely are happy to pay maintenance for 2D drawing tools, but because that these tools might actually be the one’s that helps an upgrade being worthwhile, when it comes down to get all the necessary information to the manufacturing floor.
Dimension Palette

With an extra line added to this little magic box, you just recieved some handy buttons to line up and organize your dimensions in your drawings.

Cosmetic Threads callouts are now editable
Any improvement to Cosmetic Threads is pure enjoyable, and I am not trying to put the screw in motion to trash SolidWorks work on this subject. The fact is that our models works a lot better with this feature than of it was modeled up. So it is defiantly cool that we now can added these functions in a design table.

How about pattern a note…
This feature might not make you jump out of the chair in joy, but being able to pattern a note in drawings is a nice feature. I can only talk for myself here, but I know that trying to place more than a couple of notes straight or in a circular pattern before 10am is impossible even after a few cups of coffee unless you are looking for a zig-zag pattern.

Best for last?…3D Drawing Views
I have to say this one is a favorite of mine, why? Having the task of sending 2D prints to the manufacturing floor you awesly want to make sure the guy’s gets the information they need. A picture is worth a thousand words, and the standard views does not always display your fabulous 3D creation best. View-> Modify-> 3D Drawing view is a 120% enhanced feature for you to get that rotated perspective that will result in a clear vision of you part.

The 2D art is still a necessary tool, and I am glad that SolidWorks is continuing adding new features inside the .slddrw

Useful tools when mating in SolidWorks

One of the coolest things I have found about working for a Solidworks reseller is that I get to see some of the cool stuff you guys are doing with SolidWorks. A favorite is when I get to talk to costumers who have recently migrated from another 3D modeling software to SolidWorks. They know where they want to end up, but still trying to convert to the SolidWorks way of thinking.
Recently I talked to a customer who just made the leap from Inventor to SolidWorks, and was looking for a “Best practice” for mating in SolidWorks Assemblies. Here is some of the stuff we went over;

Filtering & Transparency
Two of my favorite tools when flying around in assembly mode is the filtering tool and also picking my spots to use transparency.

It is good practice 99% of the time to mate faces over edges, but as you might find that when you are swinging with the white cursor of yours those lines can interfere with your target face. Using the SolidWorks Face Filter can make things a lot easier. sitting right there hooked up to the F5 on your keyboard.
Now the only reason that using transparency really squeezes some easiness into your assembly is that when holding down the SHIFT key while mouse clicking will make you select the transparent face, instead of picking through the transparent as normal. This technic can make for quick picking and face selection when working with multiable parts, and mating stuff together.

If you are using toolbox you might come across “Mate-Reference”. If you select your fastener and while holding down your left mouse button and drag it over your part, some nifty icons appears symbolizing “Concentric”, “Parallel” and “Coincident”, making it possible to automaticly add you mates. This feature is not some secret magic feature for toolbox part, but actually a feature that you can do this without even looking at the help menu once. Check out this little nifty video SolidWorks has created to get you started;
SolidWorks Time-Saving Tips: Mate References

My Favorite SolidWorks Mating Trick…
After years of using SolidWorks and then one day this little simple trick involving the Alt key enlightened my day. Check out this little video I made.
Mating Trick In SolidWorks

There is many cool tips, tricks and “best practices” in SolidWorks. When it comes to working with assemblies it will defiantly make sense to experiment a little. Do you have any tips, tricks and best practices?…

SolidWorks kickstarts a busy CAD&CAM 2011 fall season

It seems like only a few days ago the hotdogs where sizzling on the grill, backyard bonfires, and the CAD/CAM world more or less asleep. But as we find ourselfs here in the middle of November the reality is that the wonderful world of Design, Engineering and Manufacturing has awaken and actually been pretty busy as of late.
Here is a quick recap…

September 1st. SolidWorks made there 2011 version available for download, and you could clearly see that the press and blogging community was hungry for some action.
In my opinion this 2011 version of SolidWorks do not introduce anything that is going to change things in the CAD industry. Understanding that every version can’t be great leaps into the future, I’m already looking forward to next years release. Yep thats right!…Already excited about 2012(SolidWorks people…please do not feel any pressure 😉 ).
Beside some new buttons, rearrange of functions, and new stuff like “de-feature” tool, I hope this version will prove to be a continued effort by SolidWorks to make a more reliable and stable product.
We will for sure become more familiar with SolidWorks 2011 here on months ahead.
If you are looking for some good information for the new stuff for the 2011 version I would have to recommend you jump over to The SolidWorks Geek and read Alex Ruiz’s SolidWorks 2011 A geeks view …… or if you like me also enjoy listing to podcast on your daily commute. Check out Lou Gallo’s of The SolidWorks Heard2011 What’s New Where Lou Gallo goes through the “What’s New” pdf that comes with your software.

Not long after the release of SolidWorks 2011 both Jeff Ray~CEO of SolidWorks~and Jon Hirschtick~founder of SolidWorks~decided to do some blogging on the biggest topic of months prior SolidWorks World event. The subject The cloud!.
Personally I really like that SolidWorks is taking the approch to be involved in this future technology instead of playing passive for then possible later playing scratchy catch up.
But I honestly thought they where a further ahead with answers to some of the questions that seems to be repeated, such as security, user cost and reliability of service. These two easily digestible blog post are available on the SolidWorks blog. I truly recommend you take the time to read on the future to come. Jeff Ray, follow up on SolidWorks World and Jon Hirschtick, Platform Shift and Online Data

CAMWorks beta is up and running. Being in beta things are pretty tight in regards to what to come, but we do know that CAMWorks are going to be available with a payable option to attach Volumill for spicing some serious chip removal. VoluMill is a program that is essebtional for material removal operations such as pocket milling. VoluMill will calculate a constant load on your cutter and not only save on tool life but also decrease cycle time. I will defiantly be looking to get some more information to bring on VoluMill beside what is one there website, and when beta is over it could be fun to actual post some mill pocket benchmarks. Here is the press release from tenlinks Celeritive to Integrate VoluMill with Geometric CAMWorks

Earlier this month HSMWorks 2011 was released. I was lucky enough on my recent visit back to Denmark that Mark and Rene from HSMWorks took a couple hours out of there busy day to chat with me over a cup of coffee at there new location in northern Copenhagen. It is pretty evident that these guys are carrying a healthy dose of industry experience from there companionship a few doors down the hallway where the respected name of Cimco is on the door. It is pretty clear HSMWorks has been built on a solid foundation, and this product sets quality ahead of anything else. Most likly also why the company decided to annouce that there new lathe package is comming later this year, instead of rushing and stuffing an unfinsihed product in there HSMWorks 2011 release. Check out there press release here HSMWorks 2011 Released

MastercamX5 are on the streets. It hurts not having a finger on the pulse of the product that has been so much fun for me in the past, but I’m hoping to be able to provide some insight on this newly released version of one of the CAM worlds top products, if not from my personal experience, then maybe from someone else. Stay tuned for some MastercamX5 goodies until then I guess we have to live with the sample from Mastercam’s “What’s New” teaser.

And lastly I can not end this blog post without writing the word “Creo”. Does it sound like a breakfast cereal? well it might actually keep you full all the way through dinner. We are talking about serving up a bulk of programs including the name Pro/ENGINEER as one of the dishes in a new buffet named creo. Here is the link to the official site creo But if you really have the interest to read up on this chain restaurant I would recommend checking out deelip’s What exactly is Creo and Ralph Grabowski’s Project lightning=Creo Both guys did a fabulousness job covering this story.

So it has defiantly been a busy couple of months on the CAD&CAM planet. Hopefully this pushing of new computer aided releases will push for better design, manufacturing and work in our respectful fields of expertise.

DraftSight, Could this be your best 2D solution?

If you are a regular SolidWorks forum, blog reader or possible talked to your reseller latly, you might already be familiar with this Dassault product named DraftSight…Anyways, we are going to spend the next few hundred words getting some of the details about this free 2D product.

What is DraftSight…
DraftSight is a 2D tool that you can use to update and maintain your DWG and DXF files running Windows XP, Vista, 7 or Mac (Linux is supposedly on its way).
The neat thing about DraftSight is that it is free for download…
Free download for everyone!

Who is DraftSight…
DraftSight is a program handed out by Dassault Systems, a 3D power house that provide roof over the heads of programs such as CATIA and SolidWorks. Actually DraftSight is going to be the replacment for the 2D-Editor that comes with SolidWorks from next year.

What has DraftSight to offer…
DraftSight is a suppose to be a online community. With the free downloadable version your support and training tutorials are all thighed into, however it is also possible to purchase DraftSight Premium Service package, which is a bundle of services that makes it easier for companies with multiple users. This package also includes phone and email support plus a couple of other goodies.

So if you have about 147Mb available and see 2D geometry from time to time fly by your screen, it might be a vise to give this program a quick download and a serious test drive, start here DraftSight