View Full Version : What is the primary software for CNC machining?

08-10-2004, 08:49 PM
Just looking at the software end of things, after talking about bit with a machinest they told me that they use their computer to design the part and then feed that image into the CNC machine and the CNC basically does the rest of the work. I forgot to ask what they use for software but I believe it might be AutoCad. I was just wondering if in fact AutoCad is the Industry standard for metal machining with CNC machines?

I also checked out the AutoDesk website (makers of AutoCad) and see they have a new product called: AutoCAD Mechanical.

I am wonderining if this AutoCAD Mechanical is more suited toward this CNC usuage for making metal parts or if the regular AutoCAD is just as good or even better? you can see all the products here: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=331041&wac=IL18067

By the way, WOW this software is expensive.. and you probably need a very FAST POWERFUL computer to run it..

08-10-2004, 09:26 PM
Autodesk software is a standard for drawing things. Once you have the drawing you need another program to compile the picture so that it is in G code which most CNC machines run on. Now a days there are many sofware packages that put all this into one package. Solidworks, and Autdesk Inventor have add ins that write the G-code for you. EdgeCAM is another program that does the translation as well as design. There are hundreads of programs out there but Solidworks and Autodesk (autocad) are the most popular I believe.

08-10-2004, 09:49 PM
We use FeatureCam for our CNC work it is both a cad and cam software. It cost somewhere in the range of $8000 to get the basic software and you can spend much more with add-ons. There is cheaper software out there like bob-cad but be prepared for headaches if you get it. We also have auto-cad and use that mainly for design.

08-10-2004, 09:52 PM
Autocad is a drafting program. To program a machine you need a type of program called Cam., such as MasterCam or Gibbs. Without getting into a lot of detail suffice it to say that loading the image into the machine and the machine does the rest is a great exaggeration.


08-10-2004, 11:21 PM
Jobshops don't really use things like Autocad because they don't need the design components availabe to it (FEA, Inventor, etc.) most of the time you either get a file over the wire or they mail you a set of blueprints. If your working from prints, You wind up using a CAD/CAM package to create either a solid or wireframe and then generate a part program from it using a post processor in the CAD?CAM package. When you buy the package you have to specify what controller you have so they can provide the correct postprocessor. I'd say for the Manufacturing end of companies and places like jobshops who do nothing but make stuff, 90% use either Mastercam, Surfcam or Virtual Gibbs, With Mastercam being the largest followed closely by Surfcam.


08-10-2004, 11:38 PM
Autocad, ace converter..

I bought Bobcad/cam.. The money I spent was not worth the annoying phone calls 3 or 4 times a week. It has blue screened of death several times now. Not sure whether it is the computer/graphics or software calls.
I have not gotten a good cnc gcode program out of it yet. I bought it because of the text and model generation/gcode generation.

I run Mach2 on my home machine. A modified bridgeport cnc. Good stuff...

Warning: If I buy your product and don't like it I tell people. If I buy your product and do like it I tell people.

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

08-12-2004, 10:43 AM
Hi, I'm not sure who to recommend but I do want to join and support David regarding his comments.

I also bought BobCad Cam. I felt under assualt by all the phone calls I got.

I finally told them not to bother me and to take me off their customer list. Told them if I wanted to I could call them. Told them I was not in the software buying business and that I don't need or want the latest greatest release or to attend any seminar.

I am still using version 17 and it works just fine for what I do. I don't even use all the features of that version.

08-12-2004, 11:13 AM
yeah I think that the moment, my father wants me to learn how to take the blueprints that customers fax in and then build draw the part in AutoCAD, then I can give this AutoCAD file to the machinest to actually make the part. The machinest currently does the drawing himself using software called GeneralCADD and then he uses something else to generate "Conversation Code" I think he said that feeds into his CNC machines and then makes the part. But he is so busy that he is going to start sending work out to other machine shops he is freinds with but those shops need AutoCAD files and he doesn't know how to use AutoCAD so that his where I come in to learn how to take all of his blueprint drawings and put them into AutoCAD..

lotsa luck
08-12-2004, 03:28 PM
I recently purchased BobCAD 19.5 (latest) for use generating code for my cnc. From my experiance with them though I have been impressed with their support, and have had NO annoying phone calls unless requested by me. I think it was a good value for the low cost.
My only issue with it seems to occur when opening an AutoCAD DXF file in BobCAD. Often the lines are no longer connected after BobCAD open it which requires a bunch of cleanup work before generating code with it.

08-12-2004, 04:25 PM
For me... 98% of the time... The commands I use in ACAD are the most very basic commands, such as draw a line, circle, arc, copy, move etc., after setting up the initial drawing.

You should be able to find someone to get you started with just a couple of hours of instruction.
The other nifty stuff comes easy with some experimentation.
I've been using it for nearly 20 years now and still find shortcuts.

I use "MACH2" for my home CNC machine.
This is a very nice, inexpensive program with loads of capabilities.
It also converts and optimizes ACAD drawings (dxf format) very efficiently to G-Code.

Tom M.

08-12-2004, 09:31 PM
What are the 3D CAD Programs? I think that is really what I should ultimately learn so I can design parts and flip them around, etc. on screen to show holes that go through the parts, etc..

08-12-2004, 10:28 PM
Solid works is the best or so I am told.

reality checker
08-12-2004, 11:08 PM
The correct answer to your question is: Mastercam.

Mastercam is the most popular software for programming CNC machines in the world. I just read it in an industry trade mag. I do not recall which one, I read about 6 per month. I think that a seat of Mastercam is around 20,000.00

08-13-2004, 06:45 AM
Wow, so can a program like SolidWorks take the drawing and put it into MasterCam format to then send into the CNC machine?

Is Solidworks as hard to learn as AutoCAD? why is AutoCAD Inventor series more popular than Solidworks if Solidworks is actually a better 3D tool?