5 things to consider when choosing CAM Software

When searching for a CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software solution to support your manufacturing processes, you’ll quickly realise there’s no shortage of choices. So, how do you determine which CAM software will best meet your needs?

Here are five questions you should ask yourself as you evaluate CAM software options.

How many different types of machine tools are in my shop?

If your facility is like most, you employ numerous machine types in your manufacturing processes. That’s why it’s important to choose CAM software that offers comprehensive support for every machine type and configuration. The best CAM software will support both low- and high-end machine types, including mill-turn and multitasking for up to 5-axis simultaneous milling.

As you consider potential CAM software solutions, ask yourself which machine tools you stand to gain the most on. And consider choosing a CAM software capable of creating a digital twin of your machine tool, allowing you to further optimise machining cycles, validate product performance before prototyping, and boost productivity. Additionally, insist on turnkey post-processors capable of producing reliable G-code right out of the box — post-processors that are factory-certified by the machine tool OEM will allow you to achieve the greatest ROI.

“I thought that the digital twin was just marketing hype, but it truly depicts what will happen. I can program any part with ESPRIT without a doubt in my mind that I will achieve the results that I want.” — Harit Patel, Production Engineer, National Medical Products

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How complex are my machines?

Are you using your machine’s functionality to its full potential? If your shop is like many, the answer is no — meaning your machine tools have capabilities you want to use but can’t because your existing CAM software does not support those capabilities. A powerful, full-spectrum CAM system will deliver high-performance programming, optimisation, and simulation capable of supporting your shop’s manufacturing processes, from the initial CAD file to the actual machined part.

To get the most out of your machines, choose CAM software that delivers comprehensive functionality for your machine tools. Depending on the machine tools you have, this can include programming for 2-5 axis milling, 2-22 axis turning, 2-5 axis wire EDM and synchronisation of multiple cutting operations in parallel or simultaneously all in the same system. Finding easy-to-use CAM software capable of handling various levels of machine complexity will provide you with the programming power you need while maximising your machine utilisation.

Multitasking Swiss-type machines can also benefit from the right CAM system — one that has been optimised to support their unique requirements. Insist on a CAM software provider with a proven record of working closely with Swiss machine OEMs to develop machine-optimised solutions that will provide you with flexible programming, highly-accurate simulation, and machine-optimised G-code.

“A customer brought two mating components, and our CAM software couldn’t do it. But ESPRIT did it on the first try.” — Chris Armstrong, Applications Engineer, TXSWISS

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How skilled are my programmers?

Another consideration when evaluating CAM solutions should be the skill level of your programmers. Most facilities employ programmers with varying skill levels, so the CAM you choose must be easy to learn and use while still offering your experienced users more advanced features.

Do all of your programmers use the same company-standard cutting strategies? Select a CAM software that can integrate your company’s specific procedures, cutting strategies, and techniques. By choosing a CAM that supports your unique needs, you’ll be able to streamline and optimise manufacturing processes and deliver consistent, high-quality results.

Additionally, CAM software that includes machine awareness and artificial intelligence (AI) can help programmers. Your CAM software should consider the machine’s kinematics while you’re doing the programming, calculating what happens inside the machine in between different cutting moves. For example, if the tool is going to leave cut A and move to cut B, how does it do it? A good CAM system accomplishes this while you’re adding the toolpath to the part, rather than waiting until the post-processing when you can’t simulate moves and catch potential problems before they occur.

“Without ESPRIT, we would not be able to machine our products due to the complexity of the curvature.” —Mario Kallergis, Vice President Operations, BVI Machining

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How good is the software support?

Certainly, most CAM vendors are extremely responsive when trying to earn your business during the sales process. But do they have that same sense of urgency after the sale when issues arise?

When considering CAM software solutions, take a critical look at the level of support they provide. Their ability to quickly react to problems and provide technical support is important, but the best CAM vendors also provide comprehensive, proactive support to help avoid issues.

Consider the CAM provider’s training and consulting offerings. Find out if they also offer on-site programming services to help you reap immediate value from your software investment. Insist on a partner with full-time, dedicated applications engineers committed to understanding your machine tools, workflows, and processes, ensuring your operations run at top efficiency.

What features are important to operate my machine efficiently?

To find CAM software that will best meet your needs, ask yourself: What do I do a lot of that I need to be looking for?

For example, if you have multitasking machines, look for a CAM system with native support for synchronizing multiple turrets or spindles. Can you rearrange your operations, move them from one spindle or turret to another without reprogramming? Can you synchronise operations such that they happen in tandem or in parallel, also without reprogramming? Additional CAM functionality that will help ensure efficient machine operation include:

● Dynamic toolpaths that are stock-aware and capable of optimizing the toolpath and cycle times while simultaneously eliminating air cuts and minimising the need for manual repositioning.
● API access lets you automate platform and engineering services, eliminating repetitive tasks.

Optimise Manufacturing Processes

When choosing CAM software, you have many considerations: Will it work with all of your machines, even the most complex? Will your programmers be able to use it easily, and will they get help quickly when they need it? And what specific features are must-haves when it comes to efficiently operating your machines? By using these questions (and their answers) to evaluate potential solutions, you’ll be able to choose a tool capable of helping you optimize your manufacturing processes — and deliver high-quality products.

Want to learn more about how ESPRIT can help boost your efficiency and help optimize your manufacturing processes? Check out these customer success stories for real-world examples of ESPRIT in action.


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