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IndustryArena Forum > CAM Software > CamBam > Wanted - CamBam Alternative
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  1. #1
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    Oct 2008
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    Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    I have paid for my CamBam license twice. Once because I found value in the software, and once to show support for the developer, but I just can't wait any longer for all the bug fixes.


    I am really looking for something that is "like" CamBam, but doesn't have all the flakey tool paths and weird resolution issues with larger stepovers that I have to work around or pre-engineer to avoid in 3D. Even when I catch all the errors and work around them it just kills my productivity. When, like to day, I discover such a problem in a ten cavity mold that took 8hrs to machine just one half it destroys me. Yes, I premodel/simulate using CAMOTICS. Yes, I have the resolution cranked up in CAMOTICS, but sometimes you just don't see a BAD detail until you have cut it. Any suggestions?


    I don't like BobCAD & Autodesk (Fusion360) due to their business practices. Aggressive high pressure sales from BobCAD, and dishonest drug dealer subscription model from AutoDesk. I'd like a CAM program I can just buy one time and cry one time that just works.


    I never got past the aggressive in your face and down your throat pounding from the BobCAD sales staff to even try their demos. I actually had to send BobCAD a cease and desist letter to get them to stop harassing me.


    I also do not really like the workflow in Fusion. I have used Fusion in the past before they started killing features for low/affordable license cost versions. In Fusion's defense the operations are accurate, and it produces extremely efficient code. I also don't want to be afraid that the month I have a lot of problems and spend every dime fixing them I won't be able to work because my subscription isn't paid.


    I really like the workflow in CamBam. I love the nesting and 2D and 2.5D features. I like the way the tools and love the styles work. The post processors are easy to modify for each machine or machine group with a little initial guidance from this group of users, and the ability to have machine specific and even material specific libraries for tools and styles is awesome. I just can't stand to throw more metal on the scrap pile. I'd love CamBam if all the bugs and issues in resolution were fixed.


    Some of you may not be aware, but in 3D, resolution is affected by both resolution and stepover settings and it causes REAL problems.


    I've got a number of years invested in learning CamBam, and I really hate to waste them. I know something new will take a long time to get back up to speed, but I feel like I have waited as long as I can and I don't really have any choice anymore.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  2. #2
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    Jul 2018
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    6549

    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Hi Bob - I sort of had the same issues with Mecsoft 2 years ago so looked around. I settled on Fusion. You have to pay for a good product and so far Fusion has come through for all of my needs. It replaced Alibre/Rhino3D/Strand7 and mecsoft into one integrated package. The cost of all of this is less then the sum of the four systems & being integrated means I can change things rapidly vs importing/exporting stuff then adjusting and adjusting... Then there's the hook and anchor of maintenance costs and jobs going out of date. Sure subscription is a biz model that we don't like but that's the way all of these things will be in the future (ahem now). I recommend revisiting Fusion.

    The other path is FreeCAD - always improving and will be free for a very long time... Regards Peter

  3. #3
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    Nov 2013
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    4666

    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Hi,

    and dishonest drug dealer subscription model from AutoDesk.
    Where is that coming from???? Sure they have a subscription model, and that is if you don't want the free version, but to liken them to drug dealers????

    I did not like the subscription model either, but I found Fusion to be the best value CAD/CAM solution out there. Granted 'best value' is, or can be a bit subjective.
    Fusion is blow for blow equivalent to the entry Pro versions of Mecsoft, BoBCad etc, and they are all $1500 to $2000 for a perpetual license and another several hundred per year if you want to
    keep it up to date. So three years of a Fusion subscription is cost competitive with the others. Over and above the others Fusion offers a good Electronics module, (including a SPICE simulator, schematic capture
    and PCB manufacture), it also offers Mechanical and Thermal modelling and Generative Design. In short these additional features blow the competition into the weeds.

    I also use Fusion Machining Extensions which offer simultaneous four and five axis, collision avoidance and toolpath editing. Mecsoft, BoBCad and the others want $10,000 and more, and then annual updates
    over and above that for the same capability. I have just paid the Fusion Machining Extension subscription for the coming year and it cost $2450NZD (including 15% NZ tax) or $1470USD. That is far FAR cheaper than the alternatives.

    You may not like Autodesk, and I'll guess that you hold Microsoft in the same regard, but to blind yourself to what they actually offer is not an engineer grade decision.

    Craig

  4. #4
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    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    I was aware of Fusion a long time ago when they were giving out a taste for free, and I read what they said back then. I was already aware of how Autodesk does business so I didn't believe them, but they very much used a drug dealer model to promote Fusion. They didn't exactly tell the truth then, and they will do it again.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  5. #5
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    Nov 2013
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    4666

    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Hi,
    well, I could wish it were cheaper or even free with free 'forever' updates, not on the cloud, with four and five axis, all the bells and whistles,......but that is not what is on offer.

    What is on offer is a yearly (or other term as you see fit) subscription to a good (not excellent or world leading, just good) CAD, good (not excellent or world leading, just good) CAM for three axis and indexing fourth axis.
    Comes with a good (not excellent or world leading, just good) Electronics module, a good (not excellent or world leading, just good) Mechanical Simulation module, a good (not excellent or world leading, just good) Generative Design
    module at a very fair price. Being a subscription it is always up to date.

    It is on the Cloud, which 99% of the time I have no trouble with, after all ALL my business records are on the Cloud, as no doubt is a lot of my banking records and entirely possible my medical records as well!
    The only time I rue the Cloud is if the Internet slows down or something, but this is what is on offer, not necessarily exactly what I want, but it is on offer.

    To date I've always gotten exactly what I paid for and have good support on the Autodesk Forum. I am I suppose a satisfied customer, I've gotten a good (not excellent or world leading, just good) package at a fair
    price. I can wish for better, or I can roll up sleeves and get stuck in with what I've got. My machine has been running half the day making parts for a customer job, and very nicely they have turned out too, when all said and done
    that is what counts....making parts.

    Craig

  6. #6
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Hi Bob - Most software developers have a free beta stage or release a version for in the wild testing,.. Its the best way to develop a product. If anyone thought that Fusion would be free forever they were naïve and Autodesk certainly would have not suggested that it would be free long term. Fusion has been around for over 10 years now and has settled into a mature middle/intermediate of the road product that does everything adequately. By paying extra you can get bells and whistles that do very good stuff. Pay for a month pay for 3 years... If having stuff in the cloud is an issue just save the file to a neutral folder on your machine at project end like I do. Then any CAD program can pick it up and off you go... I've used lots of CAD software and application software over the last 30 years and one thing that's for sure is that over time its cost will escalate. Pick your poison and use it well until you need another one. Peter

    By the way I'm not married to any software. Being a commercial user of this sort of thing means they are a tool and means to an end. Every year I review my software costs and my software needs. I then do a search for options and if I find something that does the job cheaper, I give it a go. Fusion has reduced costs and improved the work. Also Autodesk support has been excellent. I give the support people quite a bit of stick on various things and they have been prompt, helpful and professional. This is a very important aspect to the issue...

    if you find another solution please publish here as I and others are always looking for the next best buttered bread.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2010
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    21

    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    @Bob
    In all the years that I have been working with CamBam, I have only come across one software that works according to a similar logic and has similar features to cambam. The name is Condacam
    However, the price is much higher, there is no helpful community and there are no plugins.

    I still hope that CamBam will be developed further, either by Andy himself or he should find someone else to do it.

    ralf

  8. #8
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    Oct 2008
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    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by ralfg View Post
    @Bob
    In all the years that I have been working with CamBam, I have only come across one software that works according to a similar logic and has similar features to cambam. The name is Condacam
    However, the price is much higher, there is no helpful community and there are no plugins.

    I still hope that CamBam will be developed further, either by Andy himself or he should find someone else to do it.

    ralf

    Thanks Ralf. I am currently evaluating VisualCAM / VisualMill and considering evaluating Vectric Aspire. David (the admin at the CB forum) suggested I check out VisualCAM as he found it was quite good for the types of organic 3D work I do a lot of, but maybe not so good for some other things that CamBam is good at. So far it is more cumbersome for a lot of things CamBam does very well, but I was thinking I might be able to create some template files for 3D work, and then import just that code back into CamBam to do the rest. VisualCAM does have nice configurable tool libraries like CamBam, so I can just duplicate the data for each machine, and that would be cross compatible. I have not done more than some basic testing so far to see if/how I can constrain 3D operations and set up tool libraries. Supposedly it has "rest" machining capabilities, but so far the milling strategies are similar to CamBam. I have not tried them all yet. I probably need to setup a few identical mold cavities, each with different roughing and finishing strategies to see what I like, how it works, and what breaks tools. I can't tell yet if there is an equivalent to styles and the style libraries, but I just started playing with it yesterday.

    Is CondaCAM the one that was accused of copying CamBam and upset some CB forum members when somebody was asking for source code for their plug-ins? Price being higher isn't a huge issue as long as it's not an addiction model. Everything I am looking at costs more than CamBam anyway. Anyway, I'll take a look at it.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  9. #9
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    Oct 2008
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    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by ralfg View Post
    @Bob
    In all the years that I have been working with CamBam, I have only come across one software that works according to a similar logic and has similar features to cambam. The name is Condacam
    However, the price is much higher, there is no helpful community and there are no plugins.

    I still hope that CamBam will be developed further, either by Andy himself or he should find someone else to do it.

    ralf

    Was just looking at CondaCAM. Have you tried it? Do you like it? It has a couple things CamBam lacks. If it doesn't have the 3D resolution issues of CamBam it might well be worth considering.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ralfg View Post
    @Bob
    In all the years that I have been working with CamBam, I have only come across one software that works according to a similar logic and has similar features to cambam. The name is Condacam
    However, the price is much higher, there is no helpful community and there are no plugins.

    I still hope that CamBam will be developed further, either by Andy himself or he should find someone else to do it.

    ralf

    Was just looking at CondaCAM. Have you tried it? Do you like it? It has a couple things CamBam lacks. If it doesn't have the 3D resolution issues of CamBam it might well be worth considering.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    21

    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    I think the software that CamBam always copied was Estlcam, but I don't know exactly. Only every time there were new functions in CamBam, they also appeared in Estlcam shortly afterwards.
    I worked briefly with Visual mill many years ago and it was completely unstable at the time. I don't know the current version.

    I find the Vectric software quite limited due to all the assistance systems. All data is entered via masks, which these assistants can't do, which can't be entered via the masks, which can't be done. For me, one of the most important criteria for CamBam is that I don't have these limitations.
    Aspire can do no more than CamBam, but with a glossy program interface.

    By the way, I can't understand the 3D bugs that are often described in the English forum. I mainly work in PMMA, so I can actually see errors in toolpath in 3D work very well. I use very sharp and expensive milling cutters. After a few hours, they are no longer usable as the milling becomes matt.
    CamBam has never caused any problems. On the contrary, I get CamBam to perform 3D work without any approaches, this lines you see in PMMA directly. My machine is very precise, but in PMMA, I can immediately see a error in the toolpath in the 1/100mm range.
    I do not use coarse resolutions when milling in CamBam.
    For me, settings for 3D objects for stepover and resolution of 0.05 : 0.05 or 0.1 : 0.1 or 0.2 : 0.2 are quite normal. It hardly bothers me that the computing times are longer with fine resolution, my computer is fast enough for that.
    I achieve the best results by milling the edges crosswise, which also prevents these errors from occurring.
    Otherwise, an STL is never a high-precision file.The faces only have the correct size at their edges.High-precision milling then only shows the image of the faces and curves become uneven again.

    I have saved working settings in CAM styles for years.
    I have always written problems in a wiki. I also forget something from time to time, given the wide range of functions CamBam has. Writing things down is old-fashioned but helpful.

    I also keep finding entries from you in the English forum where you enter bugs and then write: "That was it. One entity only as selected shape if using a region. I think I knew that. I just forgot."
    I have looked at other software again and again, especially in recent years. Either I didn't understand the program logic or I quickly came to the conclusion that I would get the same result in CamBam, but faster.
    I like to read along, but so far I have not been able to discover any new software that is as good as CamBam.
    Maybe something else will come along.

    ralf

    Somehow I can't reply properly here.
    The forum is extremely slow and I often get the message that a security token is missing. that's no fun

  11. #11
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    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Maybe that's my answer for many (not all) of the CamBam 3D errors. Crank up the resolution and walk away for a coffee, and have a walk around the planet while it calculates. I do have a very fast computer, but I have bogged CamBam down pretty badly many times.

    I tend to work in inch mode, and .05 inch resolution is not as sharp as .05 mm for the resolution setting. Looks like I may need to try .002 or .001 resolution for inch mode. It still doesn't cure some of the high step over issues where the tool paths are just wrong. I've documented some of them on the CB forum. My work around has been to calculate low step over tool paths, convert them to geometry, delete the geometry I do not want, and engrave the geometry that resulted from the original 3D tool paths. On a CAD/CAM side its easier to design the feature instead of let it be a result of the operation, and finish with a much smaller cutter. Unfortunately, the machine time with that strategy is much much longer. Its okay for one of something, but not for a repeat stock item.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  12. #12
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    21

    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob La Londe View Post
    I tend to work in inch mode, and .05 inch resolution is not as sharp as .05 mm for the resolution setting. Looks like I may need to try .002 or .001 resolution for inch mode.
    Sorry Bob
    i work in Millimeters.
    0.1mm is 0.004 inch.
    A high resolution is only required if the 3D object has many sharp edges. A finer resolution increases the computing time, but is only noticeable at the sharp corners. In principle, however, it makes no sense to use resolutions that are too fine. A 1/8" radius cutter does not cut below 0.3mm at the tip. A stepover/resolution of 0.2mm (0.008") is completely sufficient for this cutter diameter. This cutter is not able to cut smaller details. In addition, the faces of the 3D object do not have to be smaller.
    A fundamental mistake is to increase the calculation and milling times with files and tool paths that have too fine a resolution.
    I always mill 3D objects with several milling cutter diameters.
    I only mill fine details with thin cutters. CamBam has many boundary methods for this that no other CAM has offered me.
    So I mill from thicker cutters to thin cutters. This shortens the times extremely.

    And I don't have to walk around the planet either. I have NC files with over 1 million lines, so the calculation takes just 16 minutes. These are the longest waiting times I know, just enough to heat up my espresso machine and make a double espresso.
    I don't know of any longer calculations with CamBam.
    When I edit 3D objects, it often takes longer. Downsampling meshes with Decimation Master to final resolution takes much longer.
    But from files that previously had many millions of faces, small files with a few hundred thousand remain, which can be easily edited in CamBam.

    Could it be that you are simply working with files and values that are far too fine?
    The resulution on the image are in Millimeter, you have to divide them with 24.5

  13. #13
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    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Well, I do make mostly multi cavity molds so everything has edges at the parting lines. I should pull out one of my early molds where I was struggling with resolution vs computational time...

    As to large jobs. I just cut a mold that is 1.8 million lines of code per side, and I am about to cut its big brother that is almost 2.1 million lines of code per side. I think 2.6 million lines of code is the biggest code file I have run, but I look more at cut time than file size. I run several hundred thousand line code files every day and run over a million lines of code at least a couple times a week.

    Anyway, if CamBam could solve a couple problems it would be very very good, and if it added a couple features it would be great.

    Solve the resolution problem tied to stepover.
    Calculate tool paths based on boundaries selected instead of based on an entire surface mesh. (This might have a work around with the way it imports .stp files.)
    Adjust step over based on boundary in 3D like it does in 2D.

    Rest machining.
    3D HSM and trochoidal roughing and finishing milling strategies.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  14. #14
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    Jul 2018
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    6549

    Re: Wanted - CamBam Alternative

    Hi Bob - Can CamBam set the cusp height? In this way the widest step over is used that achieves the specified cusp ht vs the surface curvature. Working with meshes unfortunately means lots & lots of calculations. Working with true surfaces would decrease calculation times and run times considerably. (why are you working with stl files?) By the way you say that meshes are only accurate at the edges and the faces are not accurate. Thats because there is no "surface" at the face. The face is an implied object. The mechanics are only calculated at the edges. If a "face" exists, it's a rendering entity not a geometric entity. Peter

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