I used to use AlphaCAM for cuts that didn't require surface curvature...I would convert my Solidworks drawings to dxf's and import the line drawings. I used MasterCAM for complex geometry...and I believe MasterCAM supports direct imports of Solidworks models now.
Correction...MasterCAM actually has a module that is integrated into Solidworks.
CamWorks runs inside of SolidWorks. http://www.camworks.com/
It's a bit more high-end if you just need simple 2-axis programing but it would be fast and easy. A third party product where you would import your CAD geometry would be cheaper. The main advantage of an "integrated" product is that you are working in a single-file format, I.e. you CAM data resides in your CAD (SW) file. The part data is fully associative with the CAM data, changes to part are immediately associated for CAM use. Hope this makes sense.....
What kind of programming are you doing or planning to do? What kind of machine tool?
If you are looking at purchasing CAM software and would like to know more or you'd like a evaluation copy of HSMWorks you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . We would be happy to assist and stear you in the right direction even if we can't directly help you with the HSMWorks product.
For more information please see www.hsmworks.com
What kind of Router do you have? What kind of profiles? How do you want to cut them?
Regrading Mastercam in SolidWorks, it will not do anyting for you as it is still more just marketing development than a useable product for majority of programming.
I can suggest several CAM systems that could work for you but it will really depend on what and how you'd like to do things.
I can always supply you with a copy of HSMWorks if you'd like and you can see if it will meet your needs. If you give me the particulars inregards to your machine that you'll be posting code for I will be able to confirm that we have a generic post for you with the install or I can proceed in developing one. email me. firstname.lastname@example.org
When I used MasterCAM it was not usable within Solidworks, but it worked fine as a standalone. The company I worked for used it specifically for complex surfacing jobs which it handled very well. Now I'm sure your HSMworks might be comparable or even better...I have no idea...but I can say from experience, MasterCAM got the job done, and as I said before AlphaCAM was a very good program as well, probably aimed more towards the cabinet and door industries, although I think they've advanced to better surface cutting tools as well. We used Stratus CNC's with Fanuc controllers.
I've used Mastercam for years as a Tool & Die Mold maker, infact I work for the Canadian distributer (In-House Solutions, eMastercam) for a couple of years. With that said I do know Mastercam from both sides of the fence and in a capacity that trumps most user. This is not to boast but to relay some back ground.
HSMWorks was born out of an advanced surfacing kernel and today has grown to include many advanced programming features that make it a pack leader not just another CAM system with a more competive price point to boot. It really depends on what you want. It really does get the job done.
There are so many CAM systems out there the question is which one do you chose to use to get the job done?
Are you doinging mostly surfacing or 2D?
I haven't used CNC's for a few years...but when I did we cut 2D and 3D. Plastic, wood and foam. Foam parts, plastic parts and wood and plastic fixturing. I won't go back to that type of work if I can help it. Too loud and dangerous. I've seen bits not properly balanced break at 20000 rpms and put holes through .25" steel cabinets. Bits with there holders fall out of CNC's while spinning at high rpms, etc, etc. No thanks.
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