Let's talk about CAM

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11 Mar 2014 00:32 - 11 Mar 2014 00:38 #44633 by yoshimitsuspeed
There are a ton of CAM threads on here but none of them really discuss the CAM options. In fact I have had a really hard time finding any comparisons or reviews or anything like that to help me decide which direction to go.

My first preference of course would be for Linux and open source.
Although I have found many options listed places most turn out to be pre alpha, or people just playing around and nowhere near production ready.

The options I have found so far seem to be Pycam and HeeksCNC.

About the only detailed input I can get on Pycam is that it's slow and since the simple small part I am processing says it has 2 days remaining I believe it.

I have not heard that Heekscnc is slow with CAM but since it appears to use python as well I would love to know if it's much faster.
I have tried to install it a couple different ways on a couple different machines and it appears to be a pain in the ass on all of them. I'm pretty sure I just need to figure out all the dependencies and such but most threads I find where people are having similar issues either never seem to get them resolved or spend a lot of time in order to do so. Combine that with the fact that from what I have heard it's no longer being developed.
So is it worth the hassle of installing it? Would it be a good option? Is it stable and dependable? Is it fast? Is it recommended?

How about Pycam?
Is it stable and dependable? Is it a good option?
Are there tricks to get it to perform a little quicker while being able to maintain good surface finishes?
I have played with a couple different proccessing options and I really only know a little bit about what they all do but the ones that look like they should leave the best finish seem to take a very long time. Any tips or tricks on this?

What are other options?
I don't need free but I'm definintely not going to be dropping thousands on a program. The cheaper the better but I am open to options that cost money that are worth it.
Sadly I have accepted that I need to go back to Windows for a decent CAD program so I'm not opposed to Win based programs.

I am in interested in a universal discussion that talks about the pros and cons of what's available out there but I guess it's time to go into what my needs are for input on what would work best for me.

I am still a little confused between exactly what 2.5D and 3D is capable of.
I will be starting out with a small 3 axis machine but would love to get a fourth or maybe an AB axis and would love a program that allowd an easy transition into that.
At the same time I am pretty new to CAM so maybe a simpler easier to lear interface is better.
Right off the bat I will be wanting to do some profiled pockets. This is where I'm unclear as to whether 2.5D CAM will work for me.
I have read about and plan to try G-simple and Freemill the next time I boot into Windows but from what I have read it sounds like they are pretty basic 2 or 2.5D.


How far can 2.5D be taken?
This is just an example pic I found online but but if I wanted to make this mold on my machine would 2.5D cut it or would I need 3D?
www.prospectmold.com/images/molds-dies/in100-die.jpg


Here are a couple others I have found but haven't heard anything about.

Openscam
Any good?
Pros/Cons?

How about Cambam?
It sounds like they have a linux version. You do have to pay but it doesn't seem terribly expensive.
The interface looks a little too much like a program I would have seen in an elementary school in the 90s for my liking but if it does it's job well I could overlook that.

I would love to hear about any other programsin the under $1000 that are a great bang for the buck kind of program.


Sorry if this seems a littl rushed. I should really be out in the shop working but can't stop thinking about the next steps I need to take to get my machine up and running.
I'm sure there will be a new thread on that topic shortly with lots of noob questions.
Last edit: 11 Mar 2014 00:38 by yoshimitsuspeed.

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11 Mar 2014 05:00 #44639 by newbynobi
Replied by newbynobi on topic Let's talk about CAM
The example you show is pure 3D, but in regsrd to your questions I am pretty sure you will not be able to produce such a part without a lot of capacitation. For the mentioned part you will be best with a good comercial programm witch will cost a few 1000 of euro.

Norbert

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11 Mar 2014 06:37 #44641 by yoshimitsuspeed
I have a little more time now.

Here is one of the first things I want to make and one of the more complex parts for the time being.
This is a forming die for aluminum tube so precision and finish are fairly flexible.
Could any of the mentioned programs do this?
It is about 100mm x 75mm x 50mm if that makes any difference.



Since I already have pycam I would love to know if it can do it?
If so then does anyone have any setup tips to minimize processing time while keeping a decent finish?
I am hoping my machine would be able to do this out of steel using a 6mm ball end cutter. I don't plan on doing much steel but I am really hoping I will be able to do the occasional small project.
So yeah if it's possible for pycam to do this I would love some suggestions on settings that others would use to do it.
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11 Mar 2014 22:24 #44673 by andypugh
Replied by andypugh on topic Let's talk about CAM

yoshimitsuspeed wrote: How about Cambam?
It sounds like they have a linux version. You do have to pay but it doesn't seem terribly expensive.


I have made parts with PyCAM, MeshCAM and CamBam.

MeshCAM is the nicest, PyCAM is the cheapest. But tasks that the others can do in seconds are overnight runs with PyCAM.

CamBam is half the price of MeshCAM, and while it isn't as slick, it gets the job done. One feature I did like is that you can derive a 2D profile from the 3D geometry and use that for a 2D milling operation. This allowed me to manually create an efficient cut sequence for the part I was making.

If I used Windows or Linux as my main OS I would probably have bought CamBam by now, given the price, but I mainly use OSX. I not with some interest that some people appear to have made the Linux version of CamBam run on a Mac though. That might be fun to play with.

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11 Mar 2014 23:54 #44682 by newbynobi
Replied by newbynobi on topic Let's talk about CAM
I can only answer with a shake of the head if you want to produce such parts with a 3 axis mill.

Do you do that for hobby, or do you want to earn money?

Norbert

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12 Mar 2014 00:06 #44683 by yoshimitsuspeed

andypugh wrote:

yoshimitsuspeed wrote: How about Cambam?
It sounds like they have a linux version. You do have to pay but it doesn't seem terribly expensive.


I have made parts with PyCAM, MeshCAM and CamBam.

MeshCAM is the nicest, PyCAM is the cheapest. But tasks that the others can do in seconds are overnight runs with PyCAM.

CamBam is half the price of MeshCAM, and while it isn't as slick, it gets the job done. One feature I did like is that you can derive a 2D profile from the 3D geometry and use that for a 2D milling operation. This allowed me to manually create an efficient cut sequence for the part I was making.

If I used Windows or Linux as my main OS I would probably have bought CamBam by now, given the price, but I mainly use OSX. I not with some interest that some people appear to have made the Linux version of CamBam run on a Mac though. That might be fun to play with.


The thing I have noticed about pycam and freemill is that there is no good utility for driling or pocketing holes or counterbores or that kind of thing.
Do MechCAM or CamBam have any more capability in that area?
Do they have any more potential than pycam as far as tooling paths or finish?
Do any of them allow multiple operations? Like if I wanted to face the above part, then drill or pocket the holes, then switch tools and just mill the contoured pocket?


I did get Heeks running on Windows. From what I have been able to come to understand about the options discussed here or really in the sub $1000 range it does seem to offer the most potential even as limited as it is.
I need to spend some more time learning it to see what it can really do though.

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12 Mar 2014 00:08 #44684 by yoshimitsuspeed

newbynobi wrote: I can only answer with a shake of the head if you want to produce such parts with a 3 axis mill.

Do you do that for hobby, or do you want to earn money?

Norbert


Why do you say that?
I have worked at a thermoplastics composites company and we made far more complex parts on 3 axis machines with no trouble at all. I see no reason why that part would be the least bit difficult on a 3 axis.

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12 Mar 2014 00:11 #44685 by gww250
Replied by gww250 on topic Let's talk about CAM
Meshcam is a very good product at what I consider to be a pretty low cost. We use it daily and haven't found anything yet it will not do. The CAM side of things is only half of the equation however. How are you doing your CAD part of the work. Are you looking for a CAD/CAM package or just CAM? HeeksCAD and HeeksCNC are well worth looking into if you really want to stay with a Linux solution. We have not had problems with installations on Ubuntu.

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12 Mar 2014 00:41 #44687 by andypugh
Replied by andypugh on topic Let's talk about CAM

yoshimitsuspeed wrote: Do MechCAM or CamBam have any more capability in that area?
Do they have any more potential than pycam as far as tooling paths or finish?
Do any of them allow multiple operations? Like if I wanted to face the above part, then drill or pocket the holes, then switch tools and just mill the contoured pocket? .


It is "MeshCAM".

Both MeshCAM and CamBam have limited runtime demo versions, to you can easily download them and try them.
Both support multiple operations.

www.grzsoftware.com/download/
www.cambam.info/downloads/ or www.cambam.info/ref/ref.linux

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12 Mar 2014 02:07 #44689 by yoshimitsuspeed

gww250 wrote: Meshcam is a very good product at what I consider to be a pretty low cost. We use it daily and haven't found anything yet it will not do. The CAM side of things is only half of the equation however. How are you doing your CAD part of the work. Are you looking for a CAD/CAM package or just CAM? HeeksCAD and HeeksCNC are well worth looking into if you really want to stay with a Linux solution. We have not had problems with installations on Ubuntu.


I have been using freecad for the last couple years hoping it's capability would grow with my needs but unfortunately I need a much more powerful Application. I will likely be buying a seat for Solid edge in the near future.
I was hoping to stay on Linux but NX is about the only other option I have found that runs on Linux and has the capability I need.
Solid Edge is technically well outside what I should be spending on a CAD program so it's hard to justify the extra few grand for NX just to maintain my preferred OS when otherwise Solid Edge should do everything I need it to.

Unfortunately it looks like Siemens CAM programs are equally as expensive.

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