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CADFusion Built Around Motion Control
1/28/2013

CADFusion takes incoming drawings into defined shapes and entities.   (Source: CADFusion)
CADFusion takes incoming drawings into defined shapes and entities.
(Source: CADFusion)

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ttemple
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Platinum
How is this different from CAM software?
ttemple   1/28/2013 10:07:59 AM
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Cabe,

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.

ronrek
User Rank
Bronze
Re: How is this different from CAM software?
ronrek   1/29/2013 11:58:18 AM
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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. 

apresher
User Rank
Blogger
CADFusion Motion Control
apresher   1/28/2013 4:48:21 PM
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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.

Greg M. Jung
User Rank
Platinum
Cost
Greg M. Jung   1/28/2013 11:00:01 PM
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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.

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cost
ttemple   1/29/2013 9:36:24 AM
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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.

ronrek
User Rank
Bronze
Re: Cost
ronrek   1/29/2013 11:55:46 AM
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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. 

mtripoli3
User Rank
Gold
Looks like junk
mtripoli3   1/29/2013 10:46:04 AM
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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).

ronrek
User Rank
Bronze
Re: Looks like junk
ronrek   1/29/2013 11:50:18 AM
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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. 

mtripoli3
User Rank
Gold
Re: Looks like junk
mtripoli3   1/29/2013 1:26:20 PM
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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?

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: Looks like junk
Cabe Atwell   1/29/2013 4:53:29 PM
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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."

C

mtripoli3
User Rank
Gold
Re: Looks like junk
mtripoli3   1/30/2013 11:25:07 AM
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Simply put, "Hey, machinists. Check out this program, it works great."

Check what out? 

No downloads.

No advertised price.

Small screen shots that are not readable.

Looks like the only way to get any info is to fill out the "Request Quote" form. 

Stated by "ronrek": "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 really this is proprietary software to run on a dedicated system.

"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".

What is it creating a part of? A 2D outline? This statement is a bit misleading, is it not? It has been stated, this is software to run a proprietary laser. It is not a "general tool" for creating actual 3D parts. This entire article smacks of nothing more than "bait and switch" for drawing people to Aerotechs website, not as an actual, usable tool. This wouldn't be so bad if it was stated as such, but to imply that it is a free-standing software package (like those from Vectric) is a bit hard to swallow. 

 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
CadFusion, "G" codes, and CONfusion
William K.   1/29/2013 7:35:52 PM
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I donh't have much experience with G codes, which is because I do have some experience using G codes for single axis motion control. That was quite a challenge to write even a faily simple back-and-forth motion program, with a "return home after jam" function added. At that point I decided that I would use alternative control methods in future machines, and I never touched G codes again. Many servoc system suppliers have been eager to provide programming languages and hardware that has been much simpler and more effective.

Is it possible that the G coding process has become that much simpler and user friendly? Or is it that the interfacing programs have removed the grief and pain?

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: CadFusion, "G" codes, and CONfusion
ttemple   1/29/2013 8:25:28 PM
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William,

"G code" was really developed for "Numerical Controls" (NC), which evolved into "Computer Numerical Contros" (CNC's).  It is reasonably well suited for that environment (machine tools), but is not really so well suited for general purpose motion control (in my opinion).  I believe the history of "G code" is related to the simplistic nature of the first numerical controls, and the use of paper tape readers to transfer data directly to registers in the control.  Each data element had a single character prefix (Address) to route the data from the tape to the appropriate register in the control.  The "G" address referred to "General" codes, I think.  Typically "F" was feedrate, "S" was spindle speed, "M" was "Misc" code (usually used to turn some on/off device on or off - coolant, spindle, etc.), and "T" was Tool code.  "G" was used to toggle motion related settings, such as feed or rapid, linear or circular interpolation, select cutter diameter compensation direction, and things like that.

Modern "Computer Aided Machining" (CAM) packages take cad data in, and output cutter path data.  Usually CAM software generates the cutterpath in a "neutral" language first.  Then that data is "Post Processed" to generate "G code" that is suitable for some specific machine tool.  Most CAM packages include a large number of "Post Processors" (Posts) that will translate the neutral language output to formats suitable for many common controls.

As such, a programmer doesn't need to know much about "G code" any more.  An analogy might be that web programmers can use tools that don't require an in-depth knowledge of HTML anymore.  The tools hide the details.  Similarly, once the "Post" is configured in a CAM package, the programmer can focus on creating machining operations without really caring much about the output language.

There is some effort to blur the lines between CAD and CAM packages, but under the hood there are standard interface points that are worth maintaining.  For example, many CAD programs use the "Parasolid" engine as the underlying geometry description engine.  CAM programs know how to read common native data formats, as well as formats that are designed for data interchange, such as IGES.  I consider it a good thing that many vendors can participate due to the somewhat standard interface points between CAD, CAM, and controllers.

ronrek
User Rank
Bronze
Re: CadFusion, "G" codes, and CONfusion
ronrek   1/30/2013 9:01:59 AM
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G code, the ISO 6983/RS274D programming standard, was created as a common programming syntax for CNC controllers.  This is why most of the CAD to Toolpath applications support this format.  But as another person on this thread has mentioned if you are using tools like CADFusion you don't have to be an expert at G Code syntax as the application creates the output.  You do need familiarity however if you want to edit the resulting code on the machine. 

Most newer controllers will offer alternatives to programming in G code for user that don't have exposure to this language.  These languages can have basic-like syntax. The following two sets of program lines provide a comparison between a G code program and a more transparent syntax:

RS274 G Code:

G21 ;Metric programming units

G1 X10 Y20 ;Linear Interpolation

G0 X0 Y15 ;Rapid Move

The same 3 commands in Aerotech's basic syntax:

METRIC

LINEAR X10 Y20

RAPID X0 Y15

There are other methods of transferring CAD data to machine tools besides G code.  StepNC was developed as a replacement for the RS274 standard and NURBS is used for 3D surfaces.  

 

mtripoli3
User Rank
Gold
Re: CadFusion, "G" codes, and CONfusion
mtripoli3   1/30/2013 11:42:21 AM
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So another terse layer of code interpretation on top of a relatively simple text file. Replacing the "G code" G1 with the word "LINEAR". Adding another level of abstraction is hardly helpful.

Anyone that is working on a machine should have at least a passing familiarity with G and M code. At its core, there are only three "G" codes needed to do anything on a simple XY system. If understanding these three codes eludes one, they should perhaps find something else to do, perhaps something in the fast food industry.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: CadFusion, "G" codes, and CONfusion
William K.   1/30/2013 9:24:22 PM
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The "G" code that I commented about was for a "sort of simple" linear motion system that was part of an industrial testing machine. I did make it work in a reasonably short time, but I found it inconvenient. The next hundred industrial testing machines did not need that sort of motion control system, so as long as I recorded what was done and what was programmed all correctly, why become an expert on a language that I never used again.

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