How is this different from all of the other CAM programs out there? It looks like a minimally functional CAM program.
I use Visual Mill, but there are many other programs that convert popular drawing formats into cutterpath data.
Does Aerotech's product allow cutter geometry to be factored in? I don't see the use for something that just converts a drawing file to motion without requiring the cutter context, and/or the design intent to be conveyed to the software. That is, how does the the software know whether I want to mill the surface, or drill holes, or mill the edge, etc.
CAM software allows for cutter dimensions, and design intent to be factored in when generating cutterpath. Many other factors are controllable as well, such as entry and exit paths, reversal methods, feeds, speeds, stock offsets, etc.
There is a product called Feature CAM out there that I saw demonstrated years ago. It had an interesting feature, in that it would take a solid model, and a tooling database, and attempt to completely machine the part with no other input from the user. If it had to drill holes, and didn't have the right size drill, it would pocket mill the hole if it had a suitable end mill. It did a pretty good job of creating all of the necessary machining operations with minimal input. It had a built in knowledge base of speeds, feeds, materials, etc. which it drew on to create the machining operations.
I use Visual Mill, which I consider to be a very good "value". It has very high end features, and a modest cost, as compared to the typical high end CAM programs. At the time I purchased it, it was one of the few programs that was actually completely "Windows". Others were migrating to Windows by using DOS shell type methods to make older software run under Windows.
Motion vendors like Aerotech have been generating G code programming for their motion systems for a long time, but this looks like it takes it to another levels in terms of the user interface and flexibility/functionality. Cabe, you'll have to let us know how it works on your test system.
What would be the retail price for this product and how does this price compare with their competitors (price vs. features/performance). I'm assuming that CADFusion bringing increased functionality to a new price point.
From the information on their website, the product does not look comparable to even the most simplistic CAM programs. Maybe the website leaves a lot out, but I don't see any way to define tool geometry. I would consider that essential to any CAM program that is going to be used for machining. I see references to laser, which is the most simplistic case of cutting (zero cutter diameter, can only cut profiles).
To do machining, the software must be aware of the cutter geometry so that it can offset the path for the size of the tool. This is somewhat trivial in the case of 2d profiling, but it is non-trivial in the case of 3d contouring. The shape and size of the cutter must be taken into account by the CAM software to generate the correct cutter path. The ability to "offset" the stock to allow for roughing and finishing cuts is also pretty essential for CAM programs. Again, somewhat trivial in 2d, not so trivial in 3d.
This software appears to be a way to generate 2d paths based upon dxf files for relatively simple situations, such as laser or waterjet cutting, glue dispensing, etc. where the "tool" follows the exact dimensions of the drawing. I don't see it as being useful for milling if it doesn't allow cutter geometry to be entered.
I try not to be so harsh, but this looks like junk. Off the top of my head, the first question I have to ask is "Who's G-code?". In other words, there is a post processor (PP) that needs to compile the G-code in the "flavor" for the machine it's to run on. So, does this software have some way to create/modify the PP? The website for the product gives almost no information, and at this stage of the game anyone that doesn't openly publish the price for the product is missing the boat.
If you are looking for "real" tools to do this job, have a look at the offerings from Vectric: http://www.vectric.com. They have a ton of info on their site, offer free trial software and publish the prices for everything they have. I have personally used VCarve Pro, Cut2D and Cut3D. These are fantastic tools and do exactly what they say. I built a custom 2.5D machine and use this software as the "front end". Amazingly easy to use and you can create your own PP (or use one the 100's available for standard machines).
Aeorech makes their own controllers that run G-Code. This product was developed to output specifclly for these controllers as a direct response to customer requests for a tool that could utilize all the functionality of these control platfroms without having to configure post prcessor settings on a thrid party application.
It is normally sold as part of a system that includes the controller, motors and drives. Pricing is provided as part of that package.
You are correct. It is targeted at laser and water jet cutting applications. Tool offset based on diameter is supported along with lead on/off moves and advanced laser power control based on veloicty and/or position.
As I mentioned in an earlier post it is designed to create tool paths for Aerotech motion controllers.
It is CAM for 2D laser processing with output to support Aerotech CNC control platforms. It does not support milling and turning applications. Entry/exit paths, tool diameter, process speeds are all settable within the application.
So, basically this entire article is nonsense. It's premise is an outline leading up to the last three paragraphs touting the capabilities and benfits of the "CADFusion" software. The sentence "That is where Aerotech's state-of-the-art CADFusion software comes in" is particularly ridiculous in that this "software" is hardly state-of-the-art. I'm not going to go sentence by sentence, but with statements such as "The key here is that CADFusion is a platform built around the idea of motion control, not simply a plug-in like most other programs" indicates that the author is out of touch with the industry and simply does not know what he's talking about.
Given that, according to "ronrek" this software is "normally" provided as part of a "package" makes the last statements "So if you're an automation design and manufacturing aficionado, try this program out, and bring the true engineer out of you. Since I have my own home machine shop, the software will soon be put through its paces" makes no sense at all, unless of course the author has a shop built around Aerotech's motion controllers and equipment. Other than as a advertisement for Aerotech, what exactly was the point of this article?
Having my own machine shop exposes me to software like this. I like it mostly for the conversion to G-code. It has proven to be quite reliable. I have tried other programs like Solidworks/SolidCAM and Alibre with plugins, they are good, but you pay heavily for it. CADFusion is priced right for what you get. The company focuses on making the most accurate G-code translation, where all the others feature it as an add-on.
State of the art, might be an over statement, but you would feel strongly when it is accurately creating a part from a solid model.
Simply put, "Hey, machinists. Check out this program, it works great."
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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