32 Replies Latest reply on Nov 15, 2017 3:51 PM by Jerry Myer

    Part to assembly to G-code help?

    Mike Hopwood

      Hi all, seems like a good community here!

      I've just been appointed, by default, the role of chief programmer of the CNC department at my company.

      This is exciting, but scary! My solidworks experience is basically watching a few YouTube videos and following what they do

      to make a simple part.

      My question is:  How (step by step would be great) do I take my part I draw, (lets keep it simple to start eg, a 6mm Aluminium 200mm diameter disk flange)

      and add a tool path, and nest it to a sheet to be cut on our MultiCam Router?


      I know that is a broad question, but that's where I need to start. I have a lot of spare time to brush up on my skills, so any info would be great! Thanks

        • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
          John Stoltzfus

          Welcome to the Forum Mike Hopwood


          There are plenty of good posts to read and as with any topic it does get carried away on a tangent at times, but really within the last year there have been some really awesome topics started and seem to be on going..... 


          Here is my list...


          Forum Posting

          Frequently Asked Forum Questions

          FAQ - Part 2

          What are your most impressive tricks of solidworks, Please spread.

          What do your co-workers do with SOLIDWORKS that makes your blood boil? 

          Forum SEARCH RESULTS - Over 160,000 Search Returns - Excel  (10/10/2018)  Updated - Alin Vargatu & Visualize

          pictures of solidworks projects

          Visualize rendered content


          Lot's to read


          You Tube expert - Maha Nadarasa

          • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
            Kevin Pymm



            You can't do this with SolidWorks alone, you will need some 3rd party addons to do this. We use HSM Express (free but for 2.5 axis only) here when we have the need to program a complicated part or path to our CNC. We don't have a requirement for nesting as all our parts are one or two off specials but I know that there are some addons available for this.

            • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
              Rick Becker



              The most common way to accomplish what you are looking for...


              Use SolidWorks to create a part .

              Save to server.

              Save as (Parasolid, STEP, stl or whatever you need) if needed.

              Open this part in your CAM program (MasterCam, Esprit, BobCam, etc.).

              Program and post using the correct postprocessor.

                • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                  Mike Hopwood

                  Thanks Rick,

                  Yeah it all sounds so simple when put in a step by step order like that! But my problem is that our company uses a specific program (CamWorks) for doing this and all the parts are drawn using SW, and all this was done by the previous guy... who left on bad terms!

                  So he is only willing to help for $250US an hour!! ... which is out of the question!

                  I don't want to break, change or hurt any of the good work he has already done, as we have been running smoothly so far using his process. I specifically need to know how to do what I'm asking, using the software we have; SolidWorks 2013, and CamWorks.



                    • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                      Rick Becker

                      Mike Hopwood wrote:

                      ...what I'm asking, using the software we have; SolidWorks 2013, and CamWorks

                      Mike,  I wish you nothing but the best of luck.

                      When asking questions, you will get more precise answers if you give us more information right up front. Including "MultiCam Mpro CNC router" would also help.


                      This is the advice I can offer you.


                      Everything you need to know about file types needed and basic stuff is right there on the computer, as long as the disgruntled guy didn't wipe (like with a cloth?) the hard drive.

                      Look at the saved files for a job the previous guy did on one of your projects/parts you are familiar with. What is in the directory? Is there a .STP file? Is there a .x_t file? What is the native extension of CamWorks?

                      There should be a plain .txt file in there. This is the post-processed file that the router will read and use.

                      Open CamWorks and look at the names of the main menu. Is there a pulldown menu called POST or POSTPROCESSOR?

                      Search YouTube for CamWorks videos.

                      • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                        Tim Rosendal Halvorsen

                        Well, you are lucky then - CAMWorks videos has been done by GoEngineer for one, and they are very instructive to use.

                        Find out who is/was your reseller and reach out to them for training - CAMWorks and SOLIDWORKS are easy to learn programs.


                        As a bonus, it appears that CAMWorks is 'included' in SOLIDWORKS 2018:

                        SOLIDWORKS CAM | Products | SOLIDWORKS


                        So, start your engine and get ahead of everyone else :-)


                        If you REALLY need true assistance, let me know - I know both of your software' by heart, and can for instance program a part for you and send you the video at no cost at all. (located in Denmark by the way....)


                        All the best,

                        Tim Rosendal Halvorsen

                        • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                          Doug Seibel

                          Pull up some of the things the previous guy did in CamWorks, and look at what he did and how he did it.


                          Also, the forums for CamWorks may help you to learn more about how to use it for your needs...


                          CAMWorks Forums | CAMWorks: CNC CAD/CAM Software within SolidWorks and Solid Edge

                      • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                        Matt Finley

                        Someone has to ask... What's your experience level with CNC programming?


                        I ask because you said you are just getting started in Solidworks. If you are also just getting started in CNC programming you better bring a sack lunch cuz you're gonna be there a long time learning this stuff.


                        Neither of these professions are simple and/or quick to learn. It takes years. And if you've never physically built the parts you're designing and programming you're going to cause other people pain (and money).

                          • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                            Mike Hopwood

                            Hi Matt, thanks for replying.

                            Don't worry, I have a rather large bag of sandwiches at my desk now, and a huge coffee, so my provisions are there to see me through the long haul!

                            Every part I will be making on SW from now on, I have also cut by hand, folded, rolled or shaped and welded into the boat by myself.

                            So that's a start, I know what's going to work and what simply wont.

                            Nothing we make is overly complicated, as it is all just flat sheet components that make up the boat.


                            Oh, and for your question, I made a part once... and the tool path didn't work! It cut the holes, and the inner circle, but didn't cut the outer circle perimeter. ( it was a 200mm diameter disk flange, with 6 holes evenly spaced and an 80mm circle cut out of the centre )

                            So me experience is not very extensive!


                          • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                            Doug Seibel

                            Well, you seem to have a basic understanding of how to model a part in Solidworks.  And since Solidworks is a CAD system and not a CAM system...well...that's the end of it.  You'll need to use a CAM program and proper NC Postprocesser to create the actual program for the machine.  So the answer of how to do what you are asking is highly dependent on the CAM software.


                            So...what CAM software are you using?


                            Is there an online forum for that CAM software, were you could post this question (or perhaps already have)?


                            Many CAM systems have the ability to create the grid/pattern of the part nested on the sheet.  So depending on the capabilities of the CAM software, it may well be that the only thing you need to do in Solidworks is model the part and export it as a file type that your CAM system can use.

                              • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                                Mike Hopwood

                                Hi Doug, thanks for the reply.

                                My understanding is extremely basic, but the parts we cut on the router are all simple flat sheet parts.

                                Using Solidworks 2013 and CamWorks.  The machine we use is MultiCam Mpro CNC router.

                                I know how the machine works, and what the limits are for its cutting, I just need to know the correct procedure to

                                add a toolpath to a part I have drawn, and then nest it into a sheet to cut.


                              • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                                Christian Chu

                                This is exciting, but scary! My solidworks experience is basically watching a few YouTube videos and following what they do

                                to make a simple part.

                                Yes, it's totally scared to hire a guy whose experience based on watching youtube !

                                Anyway, if you use a cam software like Gibbscam you can import a 3D model (step or solidworks file) and the program will create a G-code for you but you need to know how to select cutting tools, though

                                Are you teasing us or it's true that a company would hire a guy with youtube watching experience ???

                                • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                                  Jerry Myer



                                  I apologize for the shameless plug, but I have tried a lot of CAM systems, and CAD systems for that matter.


                                  I have even considered writing a SolidWorks API to create a toolpath based on Drive Surface, Part Surface, and Check Surface, as is done in in the ANSI standard ANS X3.37 Numerical Control Programming Language (APT) - for which there is a comparable ISO standard as well.   I did this, in fact for AutoCAD using AutoLISP, but AutoDesk is a huge disappointment to me.


                                  How many CNC programmers know that there is an NC programming language standard?  Oh, perhaps about a dozen.  <just kidding>  I suppose there are some part programmers out there that I do not know about.


                                  Back to the original:  These days, you need a graphical CAM system.  I have tried the high end (CATIA) to the lower ends (BobCAM), and in-between (CamWorks-type).  I am certified in MasterCAM also.  The easiest to use is BobCAM.  From the outside, it looks as gee-whiz as all the others, but it too needs some basic functionality.  BobCAM is one of the least expensive.  The other programs require a much more intensive learning curve.  I did offline NC programming for 15 years in an aerospace operation - 5 axis mill, 6-sided machining, etc.  I have written my own 3-axis postprocessors in FORTRAN, etc.


                                  The interface for BobCAM for SolidWorks is the easiest to manuever.  Current version is V6 (2017).  You can get all the current gee-whiz features, as I said, but basic functionality is as I said, lacking, as it has been in other CAM packages.  I have to be honest.  But I have also had problems with MasterCAM acknowledging basic flaws in their math calculations, so I am not impressed with any of them.  We did our programming for decades in a language-based system, and CATIA actually developed from that.  With Microsoft having switched to 64-bit processing, well, that makes the old software obsolete.  And there was so much hype about the supposed Y2K debacle, but not Microsoft's switchover?   Go figure.


                                  That's just a perspective from a not-so-newbie.  good luck




                                  Here's an update:  13 Aug 2017


                                  The most important features that I have been requesting in BobCAM are the ability to insert GOTO's, auxiliary commands, and miscellaneous commands directly into the command tree.  I even want to include my own vocabulary words - to have the postprocessor respond to them as I see fit for each machine.  Other CAM software has been slow to implement adding GOTO's and such commands also, but BobCAM is typically slower in adding some features.  BobCAM does readily adopt all the gee-whiz features (like HSM / Adaptive Machining, flowline toolpaths, etc.)  probably because that is what grabs attention on product promotion.  I will say though, that their user interface ends up a lot cleaner, intuitive, and easier to use - the commands/functions are just easier to find.  They have an Art package, Nesting package, Mill-Turn, 3-5 axis milling, rest milling, HSM - all the buzzwords, up to date and kicking.  BTW, I am not a Rep or a VAR, so I have no particular vested interest like that.  But BobCAM is working on the implementation of the features that I have mentioned.  So, I have every reason to believe that it will put BobCAM much over the top.




                                  another update and shameless plug:  13 Sept 2017


                                  Today I saw a webinar on the new features in BobCAD-CAM, and I am pretty excited about it.  And this is rare for me. (Just so you know, features come out in BobCAD-CAM before they come out in BobCAD for SolidWorks.)


                                  A lot of the user functionality that I have been looking for has now been implemented for BobCAD-CAM V30, in what they call their "Toolpath Editor".  This really puts them up to speed in many ways, and I am pressing for other much needed enhancements.  The SolidWorks version (currently V6) is always a step behind the non-SolidWorks version, but I fully expect this to be available in BobCAM for SolidWorks V7.  And as I say, I am always pressing for more user control - not just pocket routines.


                                  I was getting desperate enough that I was considering using some APT software on a Linux machine.  I need user control.  Now maybe I won't have to go the Linux route.



                                  • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                                    Jerry Myer

                                    You would probably be just as well off (better off) by modeling your sheet metal parts, creating offsets that represent your tool radius (router, you say?), and writing the Gcode in Notepad by hand.  Your machine control will surely let you use various techniques to move the toolpath around on the machine - using subroutines, or coordinate system offsets. 

                                      • Re: Part to assembly to G-code help?
                                        David Matula

                                        It can be done.  I have had some experience like that but doing flat programing for a plasma table.  #1 thing that I had to do was to find a program that did not cost $10,000.  Next they showed me a little and from there I hit the ground running....A few changes in the program to make it more efficient over time.

                                        I would ask for some training.  Our VAR also sells MasterCam on of the programs for programing the CNC machines.  If you SolidWorks reseller has that option or find out where you company got the program, and find out when and where they are going to have a training class.  A training class can really save a lot of $$$ when it comes to trial and error.  Material that may be scrapped, to crashing and having to repair a machine.