When developing CNC capabilities, it is essential to know the best CAD/CAM software to consider and how it can impact the quality of your production. By knowing aspects such as a variety of users, user experience, and affordability, you can choose the best.
This guide looks at what CAD/CAM software is and five vital CAD software used in CNC machining.
What is CAD/CAM software used in CNC Machining?
CAD/CAM software can be a package that brings together CAD-computer-aided design and CAM-computer-aided manufacturing to create 2D and 3D parts.
CAD is mainly used to design and update designs on a computer. On the other hand, CAM is used to aid the development of the work-pieces through computer-controlled machines such as plasmas and CNC routers. CAM software changes the design files into G-code and then sends them to a device that performs the cuts.
Instead of using two separate software to carry out different kinds of work, CAD/CAM packages help operators carry out the tasks with the same tool. It handles everything from design to manufacturing.
How do you choose appropriate CAD software?
When choosing CAD software, many factors can influence your decision. Some of the factors include:
- Cost – for people in small businesses, the cost is vital. Therefore, consider the upfront cost and how fast the software will be outdated.
- Ease of use – whether you have used the CAD software before or not, having an easy-to-use program will save you a lot of time. Therefore, go for a more straightforward and user-friendly program.
- Support – no matter which software you pick, it should have a good customer support system. This factor is very essential if you are using the software for the first time.
- File formats – when designing parts for CAM, the software should export to standard file formats such as STEP, STL, and IGES.
- Ease of sharing – the software you choose should enable you to share your 2D or 3D model with others in real-time.
By checking the above factors, you will be in an excellent position to select the best CAD software to use in CNC Machining. Below are five popular CAD software used in CNC Machining you can consider.
5 Important CAD software used in CNC Machining
1. Fusion 360
Fusion 360 is a great platform known for creating 2D and 3D designs. The software can handle CAD and CAM software roles. Moreover, it has a G-code editor.
The platform has various tools to help you save time in CNC machining. Happily, you can use it on macOS and Windows computers. In addition, Fusion 360 is free for personal use though some features are only available on the paid version.
Unlike most free CAD software, it is possible to perform many tasks with the free version. For example, you can have a free student license if your institution has a Fusion 360 license.
Moreover, Fusion 360 is cloud-based. Hence, you must connect it to the internet after every two weeks for it to work well. It has remarkable technical support and provides you with valuable learning materials.
So, if you are searching for CAD/CAM software that will help you access advanced features in CNC machining, Fusion 360 is an excellent platform to consider.
Another important CAD software used in CNC Machining is Inkscape. It is very popular for 2D designs for CNC machining. However, it is mainly used for artistic projects.
It is a free platform that is mainly used to design vector drawings. The benefit of vector drawings is that they can be influenced to create G-code.
Inkscape works like Adobe illustrator and Corel Draw. Moreover, you can use it on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Solidwork is a unique software for professional and industrial use. Moreover, it is available in several versions to suit your requirements.
However, due to its wide range of features, it is heavy to run the software.
With Solidworks, it is to design 2D and 3D models. But make sure you have a Windows PC that can run the software. Since it is a paid program, customer support is very reliable.
4. Mach 3
Mach 3 software is a platform that can turn your Windows PC into a CNC machine controller. There is no need to pay for a high-priced controller with the program.
All you need is to install the software on your Windows PC to control the motions of the CNC machine. However, you need to connect your PC to the CNC machine via a parallel port cable for the program to work.
The program provides an extensive variety of customizability. Thus, it is possible to create standard designs without generating G-code.
However, Mach 3 is a paid platform though you can use the trial version with numerous limitations on functions. Also, a single license can be used on several machines.
5. Easel Software
The other outstanding CAD software is Easel Software. It is popular because it allows you to do all from CAD to CAM with just a single program. With the platform, you can create designs and convert them to G-code.
One of the advantages of Easel is that it is web-based software. This means you do not need to install it to run on your computer. Moreover, you can use it on macOS and Windows PC.
Nevertheless, it would help if you had a strong internet connection to run the program. Also, it has a subscription where you can consider monthly or yearly contributions.
Fortunately, you can use the software even if you do not have expertise in CAD-CAM programs. This is because it is easy to use and has a friendly interface. Thus Easel is a great CAD software for beginners.
In CNC Machining, there are various software involved. So, knowing which one to use and how to use it is essential.
The above CAD software is the best to consider in CNC Machining. They are affordable, easy to use, and help enhance the quality and ease the production of complicated parts.
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