View Full Version : Solidworks to Smithy

06-17-2010, 03:14 PM
I have a Smithy Mill/Lathe Combo and Flashcut...however can't get my files from solidworks to the Mill. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking about getting a program like Mastercam, but wasn't sure if it was forth the $3K ish that it costs. Are there any alternatives that anyone knows of? Any suggested retailers?


06-17-2010, 03:55 PM
$3k for mastercam? They make a version that cheap.

There are a lot of other CAM packages out there. Cheap stuff like Bobcad on up. I am just not sure what will take a solidworks file.

06-17-2010, 04:05 PM
Mach3 is the current front runner....

John Stevenson
06-17-2010, 04:50 PM
Mach 3 is a controller like Flashcut, not a CAM package


06-17-2010, 11:59 PM
yep, figured that one out... I have Flashcut...and am not too impressed with it.

Any thoughts on what I can use to get something that is drawn in Solidworks to Flashcut? Apparently I need something to convert to a .dxf in order to get Flashcut to read it properly. Not too concerned with 3d stuff. Want to start out with the 2d pieces and work towards the 3rd axis. Plus one of the axis controls on the Flashcut box is making a weird hummm when we try and control it....

John Stevenson
06-18-2010, 04:30 AM
Get a 2D drawing from Solidworks and save it as a DXF, it's part of the Solidworks program.
Flashcut can then load this and convert it.


06-18-2010, 08:13 AM
yep, that's the plan.

Now when I plan on attempting some 3D stuff, is there a way to get it into flashcut directly from Solidworks?

The first thing would be a plate with a hole pattern drilled out..


06-18-2010, 05:32 PM
3D is going to require a full blown cam package. A DXF to gcode converter is not going to do it. You might be able to get away with something cheap like cam-bam. You can get bobcad for under 300 if you try. It goes up from there.

John Stevenson
06-18-2010, 05:50 PM
yep, that's the plan.

Now when I plan on attempting some 3D stuff, is there a way to get it into flashcut directly from Solidworks?

The first thing would be a plate with a hole pattern drilled out..


Sorry am I missing something ?
A plate with a hole pattern drilled out sounds like 2D which solidworks is able to do ?


06-19-2010, 01:52 PM
No, you've got it right. The hole pattern is going to be the 2D starting point.

Thanks all...

Talked with the Flashcut people and the recommend visualmill which I think is the same as MechSoft... Will try that eventually. I'll try and post my trials and tibulations as much of this is completely new to me.

06-19-2010, 03:11 PM
I have tried many of the popular cad and cam software from the hobby level to professional level.
At the lower price range I found Sheetcam a really nice and easy to use 2.5 D program with basic cut options. It was the first cam software I learned with.

Meshcam is a nice and easy to use 3d cam program that's inexpensive.

Cambam also looks real nice with both 2.5d and 3d basic function.

At the high end level I really like the integrated cam software available for Solidworks.
I have tried many of them including Mastercam x5 for Solidworks, CamWorks for Solidworks, Solidcam and the one I really like a lot is HSMworks.

All of the above are very expensive.

This is a typical work flow from cad to cam to controller that I use.

The part or parts are first designed in Solidworks-

Then the cam tab (in this example using HSMworks) is opened inside of Solidworks and the cut process is designed and simulated-

Then post process to whatever machine controller needed. In this case it's Mach3.
Many of the better cam software will also include a Gcode editor and back-plot function. Here you can view all of the code stats, run further simulations, edit the code etc..

Once satisfied the code is loaded into the controller. The machine, tools and parts prepared and then ready to begin the milling process. http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n48/S_J_H/misc/mach3hsmworks.jpg


06-20-2010, 03:34 PM
Thank you very much. Very informative. I am hoping to be able to follow this same block diagram approach to get something made.

Again, thanks.

06-21-2010, 07:30 PM
I would closely evaluate any CAM package before dropping any cash. IMHO visual mill blows. I would suggest you have a close look at Dolphin CAM. I own both VM and One Cnc and am looking at Dolphin CAM. HSM works looks nice but after spending lots on OneCNC at doubt I will spend money on HSMwork this week. ;-) I use SW for design the parts.

Tony Mac
07-03-2010, 06:44 PM
Hi dingpud,

If you are looking for straightforward and easy to use 2D CAM I would
suggest taking a look at the Trial version of Cut2D. This software will
open your 2D DXF files designs, calculate and preview profile, pocketing
and drilling toolpaths. The Trial version won't let you save CNC code
for your own projects, but will save toolpaths for the supplied Evaluation
file so these can be run on you mill.

Download > http://www.vectric.com/WebSite/Vectric/products/download_products.htm

Video Tutorials > http://www.vectric.com/WebSite/Vectric/support/support_vcw_tutorials.htm

Let me know if you have any questions.


07-20-2010, 08:57 AM
I would have a look at the Vectric stuff.
I am not a customer yet. They were the only company that was directly represented at the CNC workshop recently in Ann Arbor. Tony really impressed me with his demo's and presentation. What I have learned is it's the support and willingness of the software company to make you successful that makes a package good. From what I have seen Tony and Vectric are head and shoulders above the rest in that regard. When I return from my nomadic summer I am going to gave a real close look and test drive of the Vectric stuff. I am a SW user so I will let you know.

08-06-2010, 02:31 PM
I'm a heavy solidworks designer and agree with the comments about the benifits of the plugin type cam packages. I also work with a small shop outputting 3D models in various formats into RhinoCAM plug in for Rhino.

While not as slick as the built in's for Solidworks it is competent and best of all relatively inexpensive for the personal and small shop.