Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) has become the chief cornerstone of manufacturing. However, with its numerous benefits, this manufacturing process needs the best CNC software to function efficiently. So, what is the best CAD/CAM software for CNC?
There are many top-quality CAD-CAM applications for use during CNC machining. However, the best one for you would depend on other factors. These factors include cost, features, CNC technique support, and the ability to collaborate with other software. Keep reading as we cover the top 5 best CAD/CAM software for CNC applications.
What Is CAD/CAM Software?
CAD, meaning computer-aided design, aids in a seamless design process. Most designers use this software to create both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional designs because of its speed and accuracy. It simply replaces the manual drafting done by engineers making the process more automated.
CAM, meaning computer-aided manufacturing improves the precision of a manufacturing process. It involves the manufacturing of products or workpieces with the aid of a computer-controlled machine. Besides, CAM does this by converting design files into code. Furthermore, it communicates this code to a machine that performs manufacturing actions such as cutting, drilling, or milling using the instructions in the code.
A CAD/CAM software is a software package that offers the functionality of both. Consequently, rather than using two different software platforms to create and develop a design, an operator uses the same software. Below are processes automated by CAD-CAM software.
- Turning: CNC turning is the removal of unwanted materials. In this process, the workpiece’s rotation using gears and wheels removes excess material instead of a cutting tool.
- Milling: CNC milling also aids in the removal of excess material. However, unlike turning, the cutting tool removes the excess material. The CAD/CAM software uses other automated processes to remove excess materials, including grinding, drilling, and routing.
- 3D Printing: This is another process this software automates, but unlike the previous processes, 3D printing technique is additive. It aids in the manufacturing of shapes by depositing materials in layers.
Top 5 Softwares
- Fusion 360 – Fusion 360 is one of the most popular CNC softwares – not to mention, it’s free! It has both CAD and CAM functionalities, and its CAM settings are ideal for milling and laser techniques. This software also supports many file types. Fusion 360 can connect your design to several manufacturing techniques such as profiling, mill-turning, and turning. You could also perform 2.5-axis milling, 5-axis milling, probing, and 4-axis milling with this software. This software also aids you in decision-making, exhibiting a balance between performance and cost. Featuring a prediction component, this software helps predict the cost of manufacturing your design, with the production needs as its major parameter.
- Free CAD – Although FreeCAD is primarily CAD, it has efficient CAM capabilities. The CAD part of this software helps make both 2D and 3D designs. Unlike other CAD-CAM software, the 3D operations here include pockets and water lines. The CAM part, on the other hand, features both mechanical and fluid simulations as well as a movement studio. Additionally, it is one of the best CAD software for beginners that can run on various operating systems, including Linus, Windows, and macOS. It also accepts different file types, including SVG, STEP, STL, DXF, and other CAD file types.
- SOLIDWORKS – Made by Dassault Systems, SOLIDWORKS, primarily CAD, is still capable of CAM processes. However, the CAM functionalities featured in this software are limited. To get the full functionality, you must get an add-on that integrates design and manufacturing using a rule-based technology. This software covers simulation, design, cost prediction, and manufacturability checks. It also performs other functions, such as data management, although it only works on Windows.
- EnRoute – EnRoute developed by SAi has both CAD and CAM functionalities. It can provide 2D and 3D designs ideal for different machine types. Enroute is an easy-to-use software ideal for everyday cutting, creative designs, sign making, woodworking, metal machining, and other manufacturing processes. Its designs are ideal for use on CNC router software, waterjets, plasmas, and lasers. Being user-friendly, Enroute comes with template textures that are ready to use and also features realistic simulations that aid in testing models.
- Carbide Create – With its CAD and CAM functionality, Carbide Create is one of the best design and manufacturing softwares in the market. This software combines many functionalities, including CAD, CAM, simulation, and G-code sender. The beauty of this software is that you can also create a design directly using Carbide Create, convert the design to G-code, and transmit it directly to your CNC machine for production. Additionally, Carbide Create software is versatile and compatible with macOS and Windows Operating systems. Users can do 2.5D machining with the free version of this CAD software—in 2.5D machining, you can only move two axes simultaneously.
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The result of CAD/CAM software and CNC machining is the development of a working prototype. If this is your aim, you need a reliable company like Custom Tool & Grinding.
We provide many services, including tool grinding, cutting, and coating. Our services aim to please, we also know the value of time, so we ensure that we deliver promptly. Contact us today for a quote!