Alibre Inc. is broadening its horizons to the computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) market, adding to its portfolio a low-cost, high-end CAM tool that is fully integrated with its Alibre Design 3D CAD modeling software.
The new Alibre CAM tools, available in a variety of flavors, are the company’s attempt to offer a “full-bore” production CAM solution, according to Greg Milliken, Alibre’s CEO. The company had introduced some basic CAM capabilities in its Alibre Design release last September, and based on the user feedback opted to bring out a more complete solution. “We’re now competing with the mainstream CAM vendors,” Milliken says. Standalone CAM tools, he says, are limited in that they have rudimentary modeling capabilities, thus requiring engineers to purchase a high-end CAD package to complete the picture.
The Alibre CAM products provide 2 ½ to 5-axis CNC milling capabilities fully integrated into the Alibre Design interface with complete parametric solid modeling of parts and assemblies and automated creation of 2D drawings and Bills of Materials (BOMs). All components of the integrated solution are associative to the solid model, so the model will automatically update related components — for example, if a part model is changed, all the assemblies that use the part will update as well.
Just as Alibre offered Design Xpress, a free, scaled-down, downloadable version of its CAD tool, it plans to deliver Alibre CAM Xpress free of charge to a select group of manufacturers. The full version of the software can be purchased as a bundle with Alibre Design or as an add-on to previously purchased products. Prices range from $1,000 to $4,000, depending on the version.
Milliken says the market is ripe for a low-cost CAM tool, particularly with manufacturers facing economic and globalization pressures. “The CAM market has been stagnant,” he says. “Where Alibre is upping the ante is in providing a unified, integrated CAM system that is fully parametric.”