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2D Toolpath…Why You Need It.

CNC Machining & The Need for Toolpath

It’s no mystery that CNC businesses have to maintain a high efficiency level when it comes to machining parts. This is where programming automation can make a big difference in a shop’s bottom line. The word “Toolpath” is a CAD/CAM related term that is basically a series of coordinate locations that a cutting tool will follow in the machining process. Toolpath is traditionally divided into two categories: Roughing and Finishing. A roughing toolpath is generally used in the CAD/CAM cnc programming phase for removing the most amount of material possible, as accurately and as efficiently as possible. Finishing toolpath comes after roughing and essentially “finishes” the cutting process removing the last amount of material on the machine to complete the machining process. CAD/CAM software toolpath has been under development for the last 20 years becoming smarter, faster and more robust in terms of what can be done with it by CAD/CAM developers.

Even in today’s fast-paced, competitive manufacturing industry, cnc businesses are still learning about it and shopping for toolpath capabilities that make better sense of their machines and provide better ways to accommodate the needs of shops that want an edge in part-making. Without toolpath there is no CAD/CAM benefit – it’s that simple. So what are the advantages of CAD/CAM toolpath? To answer this we should break it all down by complexity level.

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CAD/CAM & The Benefits of CNC Machine Simulation

The Purpose of CAD/CAM Machine Simulation

As CAD-CAM Software offers CNC businesses a wide variety of design and cnc programming benefits, the aspect of Simulation has steadily advanced over the past 10 years and has become a critical aspect of offline programming in an effort to provide the necessary utilities that help eliminate costly programming mistakes at the machine. Much of this is due to improvements in computer hardware, graphics capabilities and the fact that simulation in CAM software products has seen a lot of improvements coupled with the fact that simulation technology is now more accessible and more affordable than ever. So why should cnc businesses insist that they have machine simulation? Keep in mind that not all CAD/CAM products include or offer full machine simulation.

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CAD/CAM Software for CNC Turning

How Does CAD/CAM Software Improve CNC Lathe Programming?

CAD-CAM software makes programming cnc machines faster, smarter and easier allowing cnc businesses to stay lean and competitive. When it comes to CNC Turning, CAD/CAM software can help increase process efficiency in a variety of ways:

  • CAD CAM Software Lathe SimulationOpen the door to design innovation and long distant client collaboration.
  • Use existing designed part files for creating machine toolpath and NC programs.
  • Automate the programming phase and allow you to get away from conversational programming at the machine.
  • Save you time and money.
  • Allow for complete machine toolpath visualization prior to reaching the CNC machine tool.
  • Speed up cnc production by as much as 50%.

Gone are the days of having to spend hours calculating geometry by hand and writing NC programs with text editors. What used to take hours, sometimes days, now takes a matter of seconds when it comes to cnc machine toolpath and g-code programming. CAD/CAM software is the ultimate solution to streamlining productivity for cnc turning. It has a lot to do with time and potential loss of profit due to scrapped parts or other programming errors. The real question is how much is it costing you to not have a CAD-CAM product?

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CAD-CAM Success Story: John Hashey

John Hashey cnc machine programmingJohn Hashey – a tattoo artist, teacher, cnc machinist, and United States Marine Corps Veteran – uses BobCAD V25 to design and create his own line of tattoo machines, as well as work on other cnc machine projects for his manufacturing business American Veteran Manufacturing. Hashey’s studio and machine shop are located just a few miles away from BobCAD-CAM’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida.

Hashey is using the tattoo machines that he designed and machined in BobCAD in his tattoo shop, Arty Joe’s, and in his Advanced School of Permanent Cosmetics, as well as selling his line to other tattoo shops. Hashey told us that making his own tattoo machines is essential. “We want everything 100 percent US made, everything made by our hands.”

When asked which features of BobCAD and BobART he uses, Hashey replied, “We use just about everything, from a sketch all the way to the finished product.”

John Hashey AVM cnc machined plaque“My cousin owns a company called Lighthouse foods and we took his logo right from a business card and we are now cutting it out of solid brass and solid aluminum, just like the photograph. I haven’t found any [other] software that will do that.”

“The guys at BobCAD, the tech support, Mike, the post processing department with Al – all those guys are fantastic. I’m not saying this on a cuff, I’m a retired marine – I say it like it is, those guys… they do a great job.”

“BobCAD has saved us hundreds and hundreds of hours… It’s enhanced my business, it saves me a lot of money, but more importantly, it’s allowing us to get big contracts with big companies and make 100 percent US made products.”

John Hashey |Owner
Arty Joe’s Inc Tattoo Supplies
Advanced School of Permanent Cosmetics
American Veterans Manufacturing

The CAD/CAM Software Stock Wizard Solution

How Does CAD/CAM Software address the Stock Setup Process?

CAD-CAM software makes programming cnc machines faster, smarter and easier. This being the case we are taking a look at how a CAD/CAM product addresses the stock setup process. The stock setup procedure will tend to vary from product to product. Even though this is true, every CAD/CAM software product should have a Material Database as well as a method for allowing a programmer to quickly establish the stock for the part within the process of creating a job.

  • Material Database
  • Stock Setup Procedure

Early CAD-CAM software products were wireframe based and relied on straight line and arc type geometry for creating toolpath in order to generate an NC program for a machine tool. Modern CAD/CAM products are much more robust, allowing much more flexibility in setting up the parts stock because of solid modeling technology development and behind the scenes intelligence that allows software to recognize all of the different geometry types and deal with them correctly based on feature design.

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CAD/CAM Software & Machine Toolpath Wizards

Who said CAD/CAM was going to be easy?

CAD-CAM software can be a challenge to fully learn how to use for everything a CNC shop needs in order to program parts and output the correct g-code program efficiently. For as long as there has been CAD/CAM software, developers have faced the challenge of providing more and more functionality while continuing to keep these products easy to use. It hasn’t been easy. Ask any developer and they will tell you that the more features a CNC programming system has, the steeper the learning curves will be and the more technical support issues there will be. Yet without CAD/CAM, CNC shops simply cannot stay competitive and efficient.

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CAD-CAM in Manufacturing Process

Computer Aided Design & Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD-CAM) software is a utility used in CNC programming automation. It allows us to not only innovate and design the products we live with and use in our every-day lives, it is the solution to CNC machining products more efficiently, smarter and more profitably than ever before. Ever wonder how the things we use are made? How is it that when we shop for things, that there are so many to pick and choose from? Not only this, but these items are more affordable, easier to access and being produced faster and faster than they were even 10 years ago. Part of the answer to these questions is the CAD/CAM software that is being used to produce these things along with major advances in computer hardware within the last 10-15 years. From the production of rockets to cell phones and just about everything in between, CNC manufacturing businesses rely heavily on the CAD-CAM software that is developed today as a key solution to keeping production workflow efficient, lean and profitable.

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