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01-16-2003 10:41 AM

CAD/CAM Software
Does anyone here know anything about CAD/CAM stuff? I have some questions for you....

Is there any software that is available that is cheap and easy to learn? (yeah right)

Who or what kind of company do I contact if I want CAD drawings made for a product? Protype Company?

When I mention CAD to the yokels here in AZ, they instantly think I want something for interior design, landscape design or mechanical engineering plans. I need something milled, not a rose garden.

When I end up finding a place, is there any lingo/vocabulary that I should use so that I don't sound like ding-a-ling?


Ed Skeels 01-16-2003 02:22 PM

1 Attachment(s)
CAD is the drawing, CAM is the processor that converts the cad file to machine code. The machining itself is referred to as CNC.
Don't start a cad drawing until you know what the machine shop needs to do the cam work.

The process of engaging a shop does take time. Everybody needs to know what the other person requires to get the job done efficiently. There is no one perfect standard. All machines have their own "post processor", so it will be impossible for you to anticipate the CAM requirements.

Just get the best drawing you can. It doesn't always have to be in CAD form. If you understand basic drafting, you can at least get a one to three view drawing with dimensions to someone who can do the CAD work.

I do cad/cam/cnc a couple of times a month for custom molds. If you only have one project in mind, it isn't worth the time to learn the process.
However, if you just can't take no for an answer and want to try for yourself, free or shareware cad programs can be found online for download. They won't do much. They should "save to" a .dxf file format at a minimum.
CAD/CAM programs start at around $750 for basics. Programs that offer better strategies for machining can be had for $2000. 5 axis milling programs to $20K.

Most companies offer demos to download and try. Can't save anything, but you can click on all those little icons and get confused. Yay!

Below is a bad image of an update for Blenko's 384 bottle, to be produced sometime this year. 20 hours to convert the designers drawing to cad, 3 hours to develope the CNC files for milling. 5 hours machine time to cut a foam prototype. 18 hours to mill the mold.

01-16-2003 04:07 PM

Thanks Ed.

Steven O'Day 01-16-2003 05:35 PM

The program I use is Rhino3d, it will provide a cad file that can be translated by other programs to generate the cnc code. This has fantastic modelling tools as well drafting, but there is a steep learning curve, cost about $900.

Rich Samuel 05-12-2004 10:44 PM

Alex, this is probably not what you're looking for, but it's a helluva lot of fun to play with. They give you eight free hours (of design time not consecutive clock time!) to fool around with it. Check it out: SketchUp 3D. :)

Adam Weinreich 08-11-2004 12:35 PM


don't know if you still need help with this but if you can send me specs i can send you back a cad file.. i took some stuff on this in highschool and i'm still pretty good with it..


Rich Samuel 08-11-2004 02:50 PM

Alex, check out eMachineShop, a free CAD tool download. :) (You don't have to use their manufacturing service.)

katiemoe 01-23-2006 02:30 PM


Rick Jones 04-19-2007 09:47 PM


I have a AutoCad software program. I have worked with it for several years and I can convert the drawing extension files for use on just about any type of machining center. I would be glad to make up a drawing and even sent you a AutoCad viewer via e-mail No charge....Let me know if that would help you out. I asked a few questions in this site and got alot of help and just want to return the favor.

Rick Jones

Gary Guydosh 04-20-2007 09:48 AM

There is a wood turners program that does what I think you are looking for. I have used it to see how things will look befor I turn them. It is not a CAM program. It just lets you draw and look at the item from all side befor you make it. I can get the name if you want.

Jacqueline Knight 02-28-2016 06:58 PM

I know this thread is old but I have just found out about Onshape. It was founded by Jon Hirschtick who founded Solidworks which is the number one CAD software for product development and mechanical engineering. That and Pro Engineer. Anyway, Hirschtick's new software is cloud-based and you can Cad off any device like an iPad. More importantly the basic version is free whereas Solidworks costs around $7K/yr for a license. And the basic version is quite good, it's only if you want more storage in the cloud that they start charging more.

To talk to CNC machines though, most machinists (I know) use MasterCAM. However if you just want nice scaleable mechanical drawings then Solidworks or Onshape is great and you can send those drawings straight to 3D Printers.

iven may 11-18-2018 02:37 PM

Fusion 360 Free and excellent CAD-CAM-CNC Software
I am a CAD-CAM-CNC expert I have been training Schools for over 30 years, I also blow glass and make tools for glassblowers. I would be happy to advise you. There is now excellent free CAD-CAM-CNC integrated software on the market with great training materials, Fusion 360 from Autodesk.

Give me a call if you like 253-223-0333,

Pete VanderLaan 11-18-2018 02:49 PM

sales and promos go through classified.

Steven O'Day 11-18-2018 06:30 PM

It's a great program but it is only free for 30 days, then $60 a month or $500 a year. Students can get a 3 year free license.

Jordan Kube 11-18-2018 09:01 PM

Everyone can get a 3 year license. Free for students, startups and hobbyists.

No one is checking if you make more than $100k a year but if you do it is silly not to pay for. Great integrated design and manufacturing software. I use it a lot.

Steven O'Day 11-18-2018 09:32 PM

Thanks Jordan, good to know.

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