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CAM Review

A Tale of Two CAM Engines

    See Also

  Delcam website
   ArtSoft web site

FeatureCAM reviews - at CADdigest.com

  CAM features - at CADdigest.com
  CAM - Products & Companies list at TenLinks

excerpted from

Full article is available for a fee

January 18, 2007

FeatureCAM, a fully-featured computer-aided milling (CAM) product from Delcam, started life as FeatureMILL from EGS (Engineering Geometry Systems) in 1995. Since then it developed into an entire range of CAM applications known as the FeatureCAM family of products, launched in 1998. In 2005, EGS was acquired by Delcam Plc., a major player in the MCAD application industry that began as a commercial spin-off from Cambridge University in 1977.

Since then, FeatureCAM development has continued at high speed, resulting in the company’s most recent upgrade: FeatureCAM 2007, announced in September 2006. FeatureCAM delivers a range of applications that enable a mechanical engineer to go directly from 3D model to G-code, either by importing an existing design, or creating it within FeatureCAM itself. The free evaluation copy can be downloaded from the FeatureCAM website [www.featureCAM.com] although for this overview, we used a CD version of the evaluation software. The software supports Windows from 2000 through to Vista and exploits the power of 64-bit Windows platforms if available.

FeatureCAM applications cover the gamut of tooling and milling needs as follows, using both 2D and 3D drawing tools, import tools, and modification tools to be able to automatically create tool paths and code for parts:

  • FeatureMILL2.5D
  • FeatureMILL3D
  • FeatureTURN
  • FeatureWIRE

Mach 3 brings CAM to the Hobbyists

Retired Canadian programmer Art Fenerty takes a completely different approach to CAM with his controller software aimed at home CNC users, Mach3. The free-trial download, available at the ArtSoft web site [www.artofcnc.ca], costs a mere trifle when purchased, compared to other CNC controls: $150.

“I got into CNC as a hobbyist,” explains Fenerty, “simply wanting to cut photos on my wood router. I didn’t like the software I saw when I got to that stage, so I wrote my own. It was suggested I put it on the web, so I did, more as a lark than anything else. It has since become my job.”

Since then, Mach3’s simplicity, and the generous support from Fenerty and ArtSoft’s online CNC forums have won enthusiastic praise from those struggling to scale the CAD-CAM-CNC learning curve.

Mach 3’s wizards for common CNC procedures can be written by users themselves in Visual Basic, traded on ArtSoft’s online forum, to be combined or modified to the machine job at hand. The open-source posts are continually being expanded and improved, so the capability and collective knowledge of Mach3 methods are constantly evolving as a community effort.

More information can be found at: www.artofcnc.ca

The full article is available for a fee at CADCAMNet.

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