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Learning Solidworks CAM


Ive been trying to teach myself about the CAM software that comes along with Solidworks. Its really rebranded and detuned CAMWorks if anyone is familiar with that.
In one of the online trainings the presenter asked have you ever received a gift that cost you money to use? That’s Solidworks CAM.
There is a simple add in that adds a CAM features tab. Its way overkill for sending g-code to the maslow, but im trying to learn something. I also want to apply what I learn for the maslow to the Stepcraft D840 desktop cnc at the local school FabLab. They have student seats of Solidworks with CAM. Clicking through the process is pretty easy. I am going to try a generic post processor.
The painful part is the CAM Technology Database. You need to tell the CAM TD what type of cnc machine you are using. If yours isn’t in the drop down you can build your machine. So I’m going to put, 2hp for the motor, 30 in/min for max feed rate and rapid feed rate. It asks for Feed and Rapid accel and decel numbers in in/sec/sec. What would enter for those? It also asks about accel and decel coordinate read time in seconds. What about that time? It has 0.1 sec as a default.
There are feeds and speeds for most metals and plastics but not woods. I can add wood to the material list. See the screen capture above.
Then once you build your machine you need to build your tool box. Has anyone figured out SFM numbers for the Maslow? I don’t understand why the table shows a radial depth of cut wider than the bit. What would be the HP/Cu In/Minute for wood being cut with the Maslow? Most of the steel numbers are 0.88 and Aluminum is 0.256.
The next fun is building the tool crib for your “custom” machine. Its easy to deactivate all the default tooling that wont be used and to add “custom” tooling. Each tool has data added to it dia, shank, cutting length, SFM, Feed Per Tooth.
All of this information is used to Generate the Operation Plan and Toolpaths and then spit it out with the post processor.
Has anyone messed with this stuff. Is it just easier to DXF out a profile and use something else to make the gcode?
Thanks for reading my ramblings.

look to see if GRBL is listed, the type of CNC machine also affects the flavor
of gcode (there are lots of possible gcode commands and no machine implements
them all, I think there are some options the directly conflict)

I don’t think anyone has worked out accel/decel limits for these machines

there are a lot of internet resources for determining speeds and feeds for
cutting wood. With the maslo, in general it’s max speed is slower than anything
on the charts, but it’s also far less rigid than those charts assume, so while
the bit can theoretically cut well at those speeds, the cut won’t be where you
want it unless you lower the chip load (and what those limits are are not well
defined, lots of variables, including the direction of cut)

a lot of the tool crib options are needed for auto-changing tools, which the
maslow doesn’t have, but the bit diameter is critical.

no matter what software you use, you will have to do the CAM step at some point.
The system you are using is complex and gives you 1000+ options, but if you
can stick with it and learn to understand the options it’s giving you (mostly,
which ones you are able to ignore and set to a constant) you will then be able
to manage any CNC system.

David Lang

Minor comment. I have (and actually like) one of those cheap and floppy 3018s, it almost makes the Maslow a speed demon at 500mmpm.