Solid DNA blog

Blog about stuff on Solid Edge CAD software

CAD/CAM Integration

To place you in the context of this article, i was involved in a Twitter feed, and since i like to place my feet where everyone pass their turn……140 characters, the flavor of the month, is not enough to answer.

The main thread of discussion:

“…….@soliddna The focus needs to be on the tools that U.S. manufacturing really needs to compete. Fully integrated CADCAM…



@ Soliddna If The Need Is small gold isn’t Why Are There So Many CAM companies moving to run inside of SolidWorks Fully Integrated?



@ Soliddna Question from customer: Why does not Solid Edge ST Have native CAM releases after Twenty Something? Answer: What’s CAM ?….”

OK several things to put in perspective and not to mix.

First Twitter feed:

If we start with the original subject, is the U.S. market (U.S. = North America) will be really competitive with emerging markets with an integrated CAM?

I doubt very much that the flavor of the day (read marketing) is the cornerstone to be more competitive because:

  • Either, emerging markets do not have the latest technology. (And they are competitive)
  • Either, emerging markets have access to the same technologies (ie by the logic that I’m facing, they will be even more competitive)

Over the past 100 years, most industrialized markets have enjoyed a good share of the pie. Whether we like it or not, we will need to accept to share this cake with emerging markets. I doubt that North America with some 400 million people can compete with the 2 points plus billion, this i without counting Africa, which adds 1 more. May be we could ask South America to join their 300 million to help balance…….

Second Twitter feed, “.. Why So Many CAM companies … “

The answer is simple; it comes from the marketing of Solidworks and not the integration itself of the CAM inside the CAD interface.

Do not forget that Solidworks does not support any software development for the CAM.

In the organization of Siemens, this development is an integral part of the organization. It is present for about thirty years if not more.

So this sudden interest in this type of integration seems motivated largely (if not entirely) from a marketing point of view, the advantages that are purely technical are side effects to justify the flavor of the day.

Solidworks was mentioned to me, but the same logic applies to Autodesk that has no internal development for a CAM software. By the way Autodesk, as SW is trying to play in your flowerbeds in the architecture, why not make a call to Siemens to integrate NX CAM in Inventor, 30 years of experience this is not something you can ignore….. Who knows Siemens could handle the mechanical side and Autodesk the architecture a beautiful partnership in perspective.

Then I got point to a series of reasons for CAM integration into CAD software.

Top 10 Reasons for CAM Integration

  1. No data translation errors.
  2. Lower training costs.
  3. Complete knowledge of the design intent.
  4. Full associativity With The CAD model.
  5. Fewer files to manage.
  6. Fewer errors.
  7. Only one system to learn.
  8. Superior CAD tools.
  9. Faster model to share.
  10. Less work for everyone.
  • This initial premise assumes that you work with one source of CAD, which is not always the case. What is also distorting the initial premise, the portion conversion still exists, but it is directed to the CAD software. So unless you live in a closed environment….. As CAM Express and Solid Edge are from the same developer, I would not be surprised that CAM Express has direct access to 3D data without the need for conversion.
  • The cost of training decreases. As the CAM and CAD are two completely different processes, you will need two courses. OK I’m a good player I give a small reduction in costs, but how much this reduction equal??
  • Know the design intent. This corresponds to: How part topology change to adapt to its environment, useful for CAD designers, but unimportant to a machinist, what is important is the distribution of the tolerance so that the piece can be machined to the required dimensions in order to pass the inspection.
  • Associativity with the CAD model…..
  • Fewer files to manage. So here it is not the CAD / CAM integration that is involved, but the management of data / documents. File management is a false problem to justify the use of a single file format. If you have problems with file management and you lower the number of file the problems will decrease but will not disappear nor will it be solved.
  • fewer errors. Here a general argument, not a reason, which brings us back to the previous point, this point can also be removed from the list.
  • One system to learn. That sounds like a lot of point 2, this one can also be removed from the list
  • Best tools for CAD; this confirms the point 2 CAD and CAM are two different processes. But if the part is imported??Synchronous Modeling Techniques Enable Faster CAM Data Preparation
  • Faster model to part. Again a general statement difficult to measure. The time saved is often gain at the machining strategy level
  • Less work. Another general statement. But suppose the CAD staff have the responsibility to create CAM programming, would their workload will double because they must assume two roles. Because those are not two processes that can be merge into a single process.

So this list of 10 items melts to make only 3 or 4….. But from a marketing standpoint I am sure this list can be stretch beyond 20 to retrieve the 6 or 7 points that have disappeared …

If you have followed articles on this blog, you’ve probably have seen (read) an article on STEPNC and if I’m not mistaken Siemens is involved as a partner (Software – NX CAM (UG) and equipment – CNC Controllers).

Once you understand the general concept of the development of STEP NC, integrating CAD / CAM is not the wall to be demolished, a hurdle to achieving a goal unless you put the emphasis on marketing.

The real challenge is playing at another level, the notion of integrating CAD / CAM is almost entirely cosmetic in which it make a perfect marriage if your focus is on the marketing instead of the technology.

The real challenge is playing at another level to which, I return to the second Twitter feed, Solidworks has no internal resources to develop a CAM software and will focus on the cosmetic appearance / Marketing.

Here are some of the real issues

Feature Based Machining FBM – Voir à 2:20

To make sure I’m making myself clear, I am not against the integration of CAD and CAM in a single interface, this type of integration has already been done with the simulation module in Solid Edge and enjoy.

However, we must not forget that flexibility and adaptability is more important. Inside an integrated environment we can only have sequential work. (Either one or the other not both at the same time). FEA simulation is better suited to this integration than the CAM in my opinion. Especially if a subset of the full FEA feature are implement. This allow for quick design validation.

I do not see any advantage to make a quick toolpath validation in the middle of a design.

Again, if you live in a closed environment and you work solo, so perhaps maybe this will give you the feeling of better performance.

My message is: Stop breaking my nuts to make me believe this integration is crucial for the survival of North American industry, or it will solve all the problems that the CAM software has.

It’s nice to program a part in an assembly, use configurations to hide other parts, etc… But what benefit does loading 250 part of an assembly to program a single will give to me???

You Want Marketing

Un peu moins marketing que le premier video mais……

Example of a NC program including subprogramming for a multiple part

9 May 2011 - Posted by | CNC, Manufacturing, Uncategorized

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