American Machinist

Mold making with 3D CAD/CAM.


In these three stories, users of 3D CAD/ CAM-NC programming systems capable of driving multi-axis machines share their experiences with the systems they have chosen. Software from Camax Systems, Cimlinc, and Micro Engrg Solutions is reported. The users have focused on how their systems enable them to carry out fairly complex Nc milling work. The first story describes product design and Nc programming in a mold-making shop. The second covers Nc machining at a manufacturer of heavy equipment. And the third describes tool-and-die planning and programming at an auto supplier.

The Camax product CAMAND includes a Universal Post Processor Generator that can output Nc toolpaths for almost any five-axis CNC machine. The software also has a new graphic machining simulator to display the motion of the cutter and part during machining.

Cimlinc's CIM CAD product has a reputation for accuracy of geometry, which translates into accuracy in the machined part. It has its roots in early development of graphical user interfaces (GUE's) and has been described as "industrial-strength Mac software," because of its mouse-clicked icons. It is widely regarded as being easy to learn.

Micro Engrg Solutions was started by an ex-tool-and-die shop owner to be cost-effective microcomputer software for what the tool-and-die shops in the automotive industry needed, without unnecessary bells and whistles. It is probably the least expensive, least-complicated of the three. The story here tells how an automotive tool-and-die shop made a successful first jump into CAD/CAM using this system.

The Camax and Cimlinc products were initially designed as UNIX workstation products, while Solution 3000, was initially designed for PCs.

A potential buyer of an Nc programming package would do well to get some hands-on practice with it. …

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