17 Replies Latest reply on Sep 19, 2017 10:05 AM by Lenny Bucholz

    CAD/CAM Software recommendation

    Martin Goulet

      Hi SolidWorks users,


      We just made a major upgrade to the design department at my company.

      We bought SolidWorks 2012 and brand new Dell Precision workstations.

      This is awesome for our department...


      However, the production department are still using old version of Master CAM and Esprit to do the machining.

      Theses licences will have to be upgraded because right now there is no way to use SolidWorks models to create the code.

      Before we do so, we want to be sure that we are going in the right direction.

      There is so many CAM package that it’s hard to know which one to choose from.







      MasterCAM X


      Is there a document that shows the differences between all of them (functions, price, standalone application or run inside SolidWorks)?

      Of course, the easiest way for us is just to upgrade our licenses (Master CAM and Esprit).


      Do you have any suggestion or recommendations?


      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,


        • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
          Lenny Bucholz

          Martin what do you mean you cannot use the SW parts, sure you can you just need to save as parasolid to get the CAM to open them.


          Now if you want the CAM software to be able to see the changes to the SW parts files that is a different ball of wax.


          Do you want a stand alone CAM package or do you want 1 user interface (SW) with CAM running inside?

          There are some standalone CAM packages that see the SW changes and asks you do you want to load the new geom. back into the CAM, these CAM packages are called CAM partners, SurfCam is what I use which has the link between the SW and SurfCam, Esprit, Master, Gibbs, DelCam\FeatureCam may do the same but you would have to ask, but they all open SW files without translation if you are current on your maint.


          One good thing about standalone is you can have 2 people working because you are not tying up a seat of SW or have the shop wait for a seat to open so they can machine the parts.


          Have your shop guy's try the free HSMWorks 2.5D and see if that is the way you want to go. Many of the CAM packages that run inside of SW will give a 30day trial and sometimes more time if needed.

          • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
            Hardie Johnson

            We went with a package you have not listed, BobCam for Solidworks. I found the software easy to install and needed almost no training to get up and running. Since the update release it has run flawlessly and produces good files that our shop can run direct from the txt files. It is much less expensive, of course, but support has been great.

            I do see the advantage of a package that does not run with Solidworks, as Lenny mentioned, but as a small shop, the add-in BobCam works for us.

            "don't look a gift horse in the mouth in the middle of the stream"

            • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
              Scott McFadden


              Why not just upgrade the master CAM to the most current version.

              I know master cam will work with solidworks and not knowing how old the version actually is,

              it is possible to change the option settings in the export from Solidworks to possible match up with the older master cam version.

              • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
                Martin Goulet

                Thank you all for your answers.


                CAD/CAM connectivity is new to me.

                I didn’t know I could just import iges or parasolid file to MasterCAM.

                Until we upgrade the software, I’m going to use the task scheduler to convert my file and then the production department will be able to use them.


                As you said, I think it is preferable to have stand alone application.




                  • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
                    Dave Lelonek

                    We use MasterCAM and Esprit here. Both have issues but Esprit is horrible - for turning applications there are fundamental geometry from Solid bugs.


                    I too am not a fan of any CAM running inside of SW since:


                    1) Two software licenses are used


                    2) The CAM data is stored within the SW file and I don't like that one bit


                    3) If SW and the CAM vendor do not release updates at the same time you will have issues.



                    I've been looking at NX CAM and it has lots of great features over some of the others - take a look.

                    • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
                      Ken Maren

                      When converting to STEP or Parasolid, make sure you have some kind of file management plan in place.   Nothing worse than mixing up revisions and making bad parts.   Do you have or are you going to utilize PDM?   We use SW, PDM and CAMWorks.  I ask about PDM because I have it set up so our programmers can only see Released parts.  This way when they get an order for something, they aren't programming anything they aren't supposed to. 

                        • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
                          Lenny Bucholz

                          Ken Maren wrote:


                          When converting to STEP or Parasolid, make sure you have some kind of file management plan in place. Nothing worse than mixing up revisions and making bad parts. Do you have or are you going to utilize PDM? We use SW, PDM and CAMWorks. I ask about PDM because I have it set up so our programmers can only see Released parts. This way when they get an order for something, they aren't programming anything they aren't supposed to.

                          We are using GrabCAD for this now, though we can use PDMWorks it isn't as user friendly as GrabCAD.


                          What is nice it is like DropBox on steroids, have Version control, has local folders and the cloud based storage that allows you to view the files from anywhere plus it keeps the associativity between the SW files, can view any type of exported file type, stl, iges, step, sat and Parasolids in a shaded 3d.

                          emails all collaborators of updated files and changes plus you can download older versions, what is nice about that is have you ever accidentally save a SW file in a newer version , well it keep the SW version that the save in, go back and download V14, V15 was newer SW, and it  again open up in the older SW version. SAVED MY a$$

                      • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
                        Jerry Myer

                        I have tried a lot of CAM software.  I am actually certified in MasterCAM, and created a course for it for a local Vo-tech.


                        But I have settled on BobCAM for SolidWorks.  It is by far the easiest to use, has the bells and whistles of other software, like HSM, flowline toolpaths, etc.  But the best thing that they are *finally* coming out with is a toolpath editor.  Any of these programs is sort of laughable if all they do is pocket routines.


                        What is needed now is enhancements to  reverse the toolpath (for mirroring), and to be able to offset the toolpath (for reground tools).


                        Next up should be being able to add postprocessor commands (auxilliary and miscellaneous postprocessor commands, like SPINDL, STOP, COMMENT, GOHOME, and custom PP words like GOCLER).


                        Really, I paid tens of thousands of dollars for CATIA.  I thought I could readily pick up the commands since it is a Dessault product, and since it is an outcropping of APT, which I used for many years.  The user interface of BobCAM is the least complicated of them all, and it does the same thing.  And they have been pretty good to work with as far as user support, and online documentation.  You don't have to pay through the nose for training - it is fairly easy to figure out from readily available documentation.  The postprocessors are fairly easy to customize, etc...

                        • Re: CAD/CAM Software recommendation
                          Tony Tieuli



                          If I'm not mistaken. (And I often am!) when you update your MasterCam license, you'll also have access to MasterCam for Solidworks.

                          They did that sometime in the last couple of years.

                          I've been using MasterCam for Solidworks for about 5 years. I like it a lot but although they've made fairly steady progress in getting it to do everything the the standalone does they're not there yet.

                          When they started giving folks who owned the standalone product the ability to use the integrated product as well I asked my VAR if as an owner of the integrated product would I now have access to the standalone. Oh No! they said.

                          Now I ask you, is that fair? LOL!

                          BTW, for each standalone seat you own you can either have the standalone or the integrated product running. Not both at once.