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  1. #1

    NEWBIE question

    Can any CNC machine run on any CAD/CAM software or are they setup to use a specific software for that machine?
    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Posts
    361

    Re: NEWBIE question

    CAD/CAM programs are used to draw the shapes of the part(s) you are making and save them in formats such as DXF. They then generate a G-Code (or tool-path) file which the machines CNC controls "understand"). The G-Code files are often named ".NC" or ".CNC". The controls load and follow/run/execute the G-Code instructions (or words as they are called) from a CNC formatted file.

    During G-Code (or tool-path) generation, the CAD/CAM software passes the drawing information (vector data) through a Post Processor to generate specific information as needed for a given brand/model of control.

    Different controls have slightly different requirements hence the need for different Post Processors but the generic G-Code words for motion control are the same and use Cartesian coordinates to address and specify the axes motions.

    Most CNC controls do not "understand" DXF or other drawing format files directly.

  3. #3

    Re: NEWBIE question

    Hi Brett,

    The above here is a great answer with all the details you'll need to move forward. Could not have done better myself.

    But if it isn't perfectly clear, the answer to your question is YES. :-)

    Yet all the info above will apply or will need to be applied by you to be successful.

  4. #4

    Re: NEWBIE question

    Ummm??? Thank you "Giant" for jumping in. I wasn't quite clear on what "he1957" was saying. However, you said "yes". But is it yes, I can use any software or yes, it has to be machine specific? Sorry, I'm new to this.

  5. #5
    Registered
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    Dec 2003
    Posts
    503

    Re: NEWBIE question

    The CAM software will create a toolpath to the instructions you give it.You need to decide what tool you will be using and make sure that the details of tool diameter and length are stored in the "Tool Library" along with the speed you want it to turn at and the rate at which you want it to move through the job.Having selected which details of the component you will be focusing on you tell the software which side of the line to cut (inside,outside,left or right).For many features it will be important that the entities are joined.Once the lines are selected and the correct tool described,you need to add the details of depth of cut per pass,maybe entry and exit strategies and if pocketing,stepover.Once all the parameters are entered you click on calculate and the toolpath will be determined.It is a very good idea to watch a simulation of the toolpath to be sure you have got every aspect right and if it is,you move on to post processing.Post processing is what you have to do to create a program that tells the machine what it will be doing in a manner that the controller understands and will include details such as whether the part is metric or imperial and the moves are absolute or incremental,it may include instructions for coolant and toolchanges if the machine is that sophisticated and it will tell the controller when it has completed the machining sequence.

    In the most basic cases you don't even have to use software to create a program as you can actually type it all yourself,once you know what the codes mean.I believe there are still a few people who do this by sitting in front of a computer with a print and a calculator,but while this was how it was done in the eighties,it takes a long time and is prone to finger trouble.There is abundant free and cheap software these days and it works at incredible speed.What might be less common is finding the right post processor for a particular machine.

  6. #6

    Re: NEWBIE question

    Quote Originally Posted by Brett-n-Miami View Post
    Ummm??? Thank you "Giant" for jumping in. I wasn't quite clear on what "he1957" was saying. However, you said "yes". But is it yes, I can use any software or yes, it has to be machine specific? Sorry, I'm new to this.
    Hi Brett,

    Wow, everyone is offering a lot of good info, but I think the problem is they're also putting the cart before the horse. Funny because I'm usually the one giving TMI, not others.

    First direct answers. Yes to BOTH of your questions. Especially the CAD. That only draws things. Keep in mind that the CAM will need to be ale to communicate with the CAD for the whole thing to work and have you making parts on your machine. CAD/CAM packages are the easiest way to make sure that happens.

    The CAM POST PROCESSOR that you will need will need to be more CONTROL specific then machine specific. Many different manufacturers use the same control (Fanuc for instance) so in a large part you would want a POST PROCESSOR that fits the control brand/type more so then the machine brand/type. FYI - the POST PROCESSOR is the information file (there are hundreds/thousands of versions) that the CAM uses to create working code for your machine. Though if you are a total noob and have no idea what good code looks like and are relying solely on your CAM to make parts for you, seek out a post processor that exactly matches your machine and it's control.

    Again the basic answers - yes (CAD) / yes (CAM)- (as long s it has a suitable post processor available for your control/machine)

    Hope this isn't TMI and confusing. : - )

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    341

    Re: NEWBIE question

    Quote Originally Posted by Brett-n-Miami View Post
    Can any CNC machine run on any CAD/CAM software or are they setup to use a specific software for that machine?
    Thank you.
    CNC machine's run on G Code produced by a CAM program with the correct Post Processor..here is example from Fusion360
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt-1ap3du6Q

  8. #8
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    May 2005
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    1466

    Re: NEWBIE question

    Quote Originally Posted by Brett-n-Miami View Post
    Can any CNC machine run on any CAD/CAM software or are they setup to use a specific software for that machine?
    Thank you.
    Rewriting the question:
    "Can every CAD/CAM software create code for every CNC control ?"
    No.
    The CNC world is large and even includes machines with no way to input G&M code. Good news is unless the control is an ancient Mazak or some odd thing from the orient it will accept fairly generic G&M code. The bad news is small variations in that 'generic' can make for dangerous situations.
    If you're considering a CAM software make sure it has a post processor for your control available. In addition not all post processors support every feature of the machine control. For example the control may be capable of fancy tricks on a 4th axis but the post processor may not. In fact the CAM software itself may not have this capability.

    The original question seems to deserve a simple answer, the problem is this stuff is a bit complex. That's why the answers get long winded with 'ifs' and 'buts' thrown in for good measure.

    Hope that helps in some way, my minds a messy place and at times I even confuse myself.
    Anyone who says "It only goes together one way" has no imagination.

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