Over the next several weeks we will discuss the different factors to take into account when choosing a CAD/CAM system. Each Section will take a deeper look, through a series of questions, and help you arrive at the perfect decision for you and your business.
Section 1 – Software Selection Guidelines
- Is the screen arrangement logical and easy to read?
- Can beginners and experts pick functions conveniently?
- Are important of “active” menu elements highlighted?
- Can you customize the menus and graphics display?
- Does the software price include file translators?
- What entity types can it create, import, and export?
- Are there direct “links” to popular CAD software packages?
- Is it easy to modify geometric entities?
- How easy is it to create a model from a print?
- Can the system machine simple and complex parts easily?
- What entity types can the system use for machining?
- Are toolpaths easy to edit?
- Are the toolpath and geometry linked?
- Is the system truly flexible?
- Can the system calculate feeds and speeds?
- Are gouge and undercut avoidance built in?
- can you manually override defaults and protections?
- Will the software optimize feed rates?
- Does the software customize itself based on your machine?
- Does the software verify your part on screen?
NC Code Output:
- How does the system create NC output?
- Does the software price include post processors?
- Who will customize the NC output for your system?
- Can you customize the post processors?
- Is it easy to switch a program between machines?
General Software Information:
- Are the CAD/CAM functions in the same package?
- Is the software developer strong in both CAD/CAM?
- Are third-party packages available to add on?
- Is there a growth path to more powerful software?
- What other software is available from the company?
- Is the software network-compatible?
- What operating system is required by the CAD/CAM software?
- Is the software widely used?
Software Maintenance and Update Policies:
- How frequently are software updates provided?
- How much do software updates cost?
- What kind of training is available for the software?
- Does the software price include training?
- How much training will you need to become productive?
- Are advanced training courses available?
- What technical support is available?
- How much will technical support cost?
- Does the company publish customer newsletters?
- Does the company Web site offer downloads?
- Is there a user group for the software in your area?
All of these questions, as well as their answers, will help you determine which CAD/CAM system is right for you. Many times Mastercam jumps to the front of the list because of its functionality and usability across a wide spectrum of applications.
Stay tuned for the next Section in What Every Shop Should Know About Choosing a CAD/CAM System!