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Is there a CAM for lathe that doesn't suck?

alek95

Cast Iron
Joined
Sep 23, 2022
I've started doing a lot of lathe programming at my new job.

They have Camworks Premium (Solidwork Cam).

I can't believe that Camworks is a real product. It's the most clunky, counter intuitive, and annoying CAM that I have come across. As a final frustration, all of the jargon that is used in the CAM seems like it was written by somebody who has never touched a machine before.

I am really happy with Fusion 360 for milling. I decided to try Fusion for Lathe. Honestly its really basic and not something that I would actually want to use to earn money with. It feels like a complete afterthought compared to Fusion for mill. That was kinda disappointing because I think that Fusion for mills is great.

Is there a CAM for lathe that is streamlined, quick, and easy to use?

I know that most lathe guys tend to write a lot of their programs by hand since lathe programming is generally easier than mill, but there has to be a good CAM software that will spit out programs quickly and painlessly.
 
I've also been searching for one and currently write the code by hand at the control. If nobody beats me to it, my plan is to create good lathe CAM software and make it free online after I finish the other software project I'm working on.
That's a great plan. Good luck!

Wouldn't be a great plan for me. At least until Hell was frozen solid and then some. And really not even then.
 
That's a great plan. Good luck!

Wouldn't be a great plan for me. At least until Hell was frozen solid and then some. And really not even then.

I like machining and programming CNC machines. I like making websites and web apps too.

A lot of people don't enjoy computer programming or think it's too hard. It's easier than engineering which is easier than machining in my opinion. The value that society assigns to these tasks is the exact opposite however. Programming = $$$$ / engineering = $$ / machining = $ at least from the perspective of employment.

I've known plenty of smart people that say they would never do computer programming, but are fine with adjusting a post processor or setting up a PLC. I don't see the point in limiting myself. If the market is telling me that software is the most valuable and productive use of my time, who am I to argue otherwise.
 
Is there a CAM for lathe that is streamlined, quick, and easy to use?
Edgecam is pretty good, but it's Hexagon now and I dropped my maintenance because I was getting too little in return. Smartcam might be an alternative, it was good but I haven't looked at it lately
 
I've started doing a lot of lathe programming at my new job.

They have Camworks Premium (Solidwork Cam).

I can't believe that Camworks is a real product. It's the most clunky, counter intuitive, and annoying CAM that I have come across. As a final frustration, all of the jargon that is used in the CAM seems like it was written by somebody who has never touched a machine before.

I am really happy with Fusion 360 for milling. I decided to try Fusion for Lathe. Honestly its really basic and not something that I would actually want to use to earn money with. It feels like a complete afterthought compared to Fusion for mill. That was kinda disappointing because I think that Fusion for mills is great.

Is there a CAM for lathe that is streamlined, quick, and easy to use?

I know that most lathe guys tend to write a lot of their programs by hand since lathe programming is generally easier than mill, but there has to be a good CAM software that will spit out programs quickly and painlessly.
I've been running CAMWorks for mills for almost 15 years now, just recently started using the lathe module. I will agree, the lathe programming lacks incredibly, I shouldn't say lacks, because it is very simple, every option's "note" or what you called jargon, makes no sense at all.

But I find it to be 100% the complete opposite on the mill side in CAMWorks, the mill side makes sense to me, it's very user friendly and simple and I have never came across a part I couldn't easily program all the way up to full 4th axis parts.

I just recently bought my turning center and am new to programming them, in all the companies I've worked for, I would say 99% of the turning guys programmed at the machine and there were a few that used some very basic software that would always draw the turning features, never used models, just basic sketch profiles. After programming a couple parts in CAMWorks turning, I can see why, it's actually what I ended up doing, created a sketch profile and programmed off that rather than the actual model.
 
I've started doing a lot of lathe programming at my new job.

They have Camworks Premium (Solidwork Cam).

I can't believe that Camworks is a real product. It's the most clunky, counter intuitive, and annoying CAM that I have come across. As a final frustration, all of the jargon that is used in the CAM seems like it was written by somebody who has never touched a machine before.

I am really happy with Fusion 360 for milling. I decided to try Fusion for Lathe. Honestly its really basic and not something that I would actually want to use to earn money with. It feels like a complete afterthought compared to Fusion for mill. That was kinda disappointing because I think that Fusion for mills is great.

Is there a CAM for lathe that is streamlined, quick, and easy to use?

I know that most lathe guys tend to write a lot of their programs by hand since lathe programming is generally easier than mill, but there has to be a good CAM software that will spit out programs quickly and painlessly.
What type of lathe programming are you doing?

Esprit is well known for having one of the best lathe packages. But I would not really describe it as “streamlined, quick, and easy to use” which sound like what you are looking for. Esprit is more like “expensive, frustrating to learn, but extremely powerful (and also extremely quick, even automatic) once you’re over the learning curve”. It also really shines when you have a lot of complex stuff going (multiple turrets, dual spindles, B axis, Swiss, etc.).

I currently use Mastercam for Lathe programing, simple 2 axis machines mostly, but often doing not so simple parts. I am very happy with the workflow because I am used to it, but to be honest Mastercam lathe is it is a bit quirky and awkward if your coming into it from an outside perspective so not so sure I’d recommend it for what you are describing.
 
I've started doing a lot of lathe programming at my new job.

They have Camworks Premium (Solidwork Cam).

I can't believe that Camworks is a real product. It's the most clunky, counter intuitive, and annoying CAM that I have come across. As a final frustration, all of the jargon that is used in the CAM seems like it was written by somebody who has never touched a machine before.

I am really happy with Fusion 360 for milling. I decided to try Fusion for Lathe. Honestly its really basic and not something that I would actually want to use to earn money with. It feels like a complete afterthought compared to Fusion for mill. That was kinda disappointing because I think that Fusion for mills is great.

Is there a CAM for lathe that is streamlined, quick, and easy to use?

I know that most lathe guys tend to write a lot of their programs by hand since lathe programming is generally easier than mill, but there has to be a good CAM software that will spit out programs quickly and painlessly.
Alek,

If you don't mind my asking....what lathe(s) are you programming? Make, model, year; sub spindle? one or two tool turrets? live tooling? Y-axis? Have my reasons for asking. Thanks.

Fred
 
I just use Mastercam, works for me but I use it for milling too and am familiar with it. Have the XYZ + C package.

But I am doing incredibly simpleish stuff, it's VTL work + live spindle. Idk how it fairs on more complex shit. Post processor support is a absolutely top notch, I think I paid 500 bucks and I got a metric shit ton of custom integers filled, and if I ever want a change, they get it back usually within the hour.
 
Since you're already in bed with the devil I don't feel too bad about recommending Featurecam. It's lathe and turn/mill workflow is truly excellent, as is the post system. It has one major omission that probably will never be addressed, because autodesk, in the form of no trochoidal/adaptive turning paths. But other than that it's really superb for turning.

BUT, of course, autodesk...
 
Alek,

If you don't mind my asking....what lathe(s) are you programming? Make, model, year; sub spindle? one or two tool turrets? live tooling? Y-axis? Have my reasons for asking. Thanks.

Fred
All relatively new Doosans running Fanuc control

7 are standard two axis single spindle lathes

1 (soon 2) bar fed, two spindle, live tool lathe, with Y axis
 
All relatively new Doosans running Fanuc control

7 are standard two axis single spindle lathes

1 (soon 2) bar fed, two spindle, live tool lathe, with Y axis
Alek,

First, your observation about lathe being an afterthought in Fusion is, in fact, true for most of the CAM systems out there. I suspect the prevalence of in-control programming systems (Mazatrol for Mazak, IGF for Okuma, etc) gave the CAM companies good reason to deemphasize lathe support.

At the risk of being insulting...most of your lathes can't do much :). By that I mean, you can profile outside and inside, groove, part off and drill on centerline - that's about it. So maybe I can see where you might consider lathe in Fusion 'too simple'. But, then again, you're not doing anything particularly taxing with respect to lathe work.

One thing that might make Fusion more appealing is to use machining templates. Investing some time in setting up templates for various operations and materials would allow you to program a new part by bringing in the appropriate template, re-pick the geometry and then generate the operation; no need to choose tools again, feeds and speeds, lead-in and -out, etc. Would streamline the whole programming process.

As gregor mentioned, another option is Featurecam ( a program we have some 20+ years of experience with). It's main claim to fame was Automatic Feature Recognition (AFR) - you could just bring a part in, tell the software it was a lathe part and ask it to recognize all the features of the part. When finished, it would have chosen the tools, created the tool paths, and have the ops ready for posting. At least that was the idea. In practice, the process would result in programs that were inefficient. What did work very well was Interactive Feature Recognition (IFR) whereby you picked the feature you wanted to program and the software choose the tool, feeds and speeds, tool path, etc. It was a very quick way to create programs.

And the post processor development environment, Xbuild, is excellent for creating posts; even for mill/turns.

Now for the bad news(?). A few years ago, development stopped for Featurecam. I think it gets occasional bug fixes but otherwise is considered 'mature'. When development stopped, there were three or four tiers from Basic all the way to Ultimate (full 5axis mill, turn, mill/turn, etc.). Currently, the software is only available in the Ultimate version. And the Ultimate version is bundled with a copy of Fusion 360, and software for programming Swiss style machines - Partmaker. In the old days, the yearly maintenance for Ultimate would be north of 5-6K. Now it is available as the above mentioned bundle for around 2K a year subscription.

Autodesk doesn't really handle Featurecam, but rather makes it available through a company called ASI (Automated Solutions, Inc. of Waynesboro, VA). ASI was a major seller and distributor of Featurecam for many years along the entire East Coast. They now act as the main agent for subscriptions, technical support, post development, etc.

I would check out the template option in Fusion since you already have it; but whatever you decide, good luck.

Fred
 








 
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