CAM Embedded into SolidWorks
Is there anyone out there interested in CAM? That is Computer Aided Manufacturing? Our young students that will be technically trained as machinists, or robotics techs, designers and of course engineers would benefit greatly from a course in CAM. Why, you ask? Well it is pretty simple. First of all those young technicians we are training now that will become machinists or industrial technicians that will be trouble shooting many different kinds of systems, should at least get an introductory course as soon as we can introduce it to them. For our young designers and engineers that will need even more intensified training in technical things, they will benefit by learning how to design so it can be built or manufactured.
SolidWorks makes it easy to design parts and assemblies but can those parts or assemblies actually be made? Very intricate designs cost a lot of money to manufacture and if you only use unique fasteners and parts that cannot be obtained off the shelf, you add to that cost tremendously.
So I want to talk to you about my own classroom time where I am teaching myself about this subject. Let me first give you two hot tips here. If you are interested in learning this type of program it can be done FREE and the other tip is to keep it in the family. By that I mean to say that I would look for one that embeds itself flawlessly into SolidWorks. Believe me when I say this, because getting one that can embed itself is like having half of the CAM program already learned for you. The stand alone CAM programs are also very good but now you lose some mighty good parametrics between the two and you have to learn how to create parts and assemblies their way. There are many CAM programs out there but the ones that I have had some real hands on experience with, that I liked are: HSMWorks, Delcam for SolidWorks and CAMWorks. Simple searches will bring you right to the main web sites. From there you can find a 30 day trial version of the full program or a 2.5 axis version that you can keep and take your time in learning how to use it. You can do a lot with the 2.5 axis and most of our schools will have those types of mill router machines. They are also a lot cheaper to purchase than 3, 4, and 5 axis CNC machines.
Down below are some pictures that might interest you because this is my own private High Tech Hobby Work Shop. I use these CAM programs to make some very nice things. We are using a 3 axis Laguna Swift CNC Mill Router and an Epilog 120 watt Laser that can also do some amazing things. The machines are making what you program them to make.
Right in the backyard so it is easy to get to. My son Rob, keeps an eye on things. It is 17x30 feet. Here is where I produce a lot of school science projects.
It is amazing to see something you designed then programmed in a CAM program actually cut it out for you down to a thousandth of an ince in accuracy.
I am using a scrap MDF board to cut out parts that I need for a Girl Scout Introduction to STEM subjects. The parts will become two different types of scales that will be used at their special day and demonstrated by engineers.
I sent another set of these same scales over to the University to one of my professor friends. He will use them in some of his class demonstrations.
While I was learning and I still am learning CAM, I decided to make something that we desparetly needed in our Hobby Work Shop. Pencil holders x three. We like many other people are always looking around for that pencil we put down someplace.
They were made by doing the "drill pecking" cycle and all that means is that the drill went in so far and backed out to clear out the wood chips from the bit. Then it went in again deeper and repeated that cycle. Now we have plenty of pencil holders.
I tried a simple but true 3D surface to see if it would or could make it on our router. In my hand I am holding the actual part that was made and it is exactly like the the screen shot picture I printed out from my SolidWorks program. Amazing accuracies.
I ran a job to cut out gears to my big woodend pendulum clock on a full sheet of Birch Plywood. It was cut out perfectly in what you see down below in the nested view that was programmed to be cut. I was extremely happy with this job except that the clock never worked. :(
This very small 3D engraved plaque was done on the Epilog Laser. Super accurate and done with an intense beam of light. However, the programming told the Laser how to do this job.
So I think you can see that manufacturing is here to stay (coming back to us) and some nice jobs and careers can be had for those that know or are familiar about manufacturing processes. Hope you enjoyed this look into CAM.