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12.3.3. Tutorial 3 - CAD/CAM

Welcome to our comprehensive CAD/CAM tutorial! In this guide, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process of creating a design and preparing it for CNC machining.
 
CAD/CAM software combines the power of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) into one integrated platform. This combination is essential for modern manufacturing and prototyping, enabling precise and efficient design, and facilitating a smooth transition from digital design to physical production.
 
Throughout this tutorial, we'll be covering a broad range of operations, starting with basic drawing techniques, grouping and mirroring objects, and progressing to more complex tasks like setting up toolpaths for CNC programming. We'll create a workpiece, move it to the correct position, and configure parameters for various cutting operations.
 
Whether you're a seasoned engineer looking to refine your skills, or a beginner diving into the world of CAD/CAM, this tutorial is designed to provide you with valuable insights and practical knowledge. Let's get started, and by the end of this guide, you'll be on your way to creating intricate designs and preparing them for CNC machining. Happy learning!
This is the part we are going to make today:
 
 
It is a good idea to print the drawing before starting the tutorial. Then you do not have to scroll back to look at it. You can find the drawing in the SimCam samples folder.
 
This tutorial is created using millimeters as units. If you're using inches, navigate to the program settings and switch to millimeters.
 
Load the unlimited mill.
 
 
Remember to save the project frequently to avoid losing any progress due to power failure or computer crashes.
 
Another useful tip is that if you make a mistake, you can always undo your last step by pressing Ctrl - Z on the keyboard.
 
Let's get started!
 

Drawing the part

 
As you can see, the part is symmetrical. We can draw just one side of it and then mirror it around the center line. Let us draw the left side.
 
We can use the diameter 100 circle as the drawing origin for now. Later we will change the origin for the CNC output.
 
Start by drawing the center line.
 
Click on the grid settings button and set 1 mm as grid spacing.
 
 
Click [Line] - [Drawing Line].
 
Move the cursor to X0 Y-177 and make your first click.
 
Move the cursor to X0 Y167 and make a second click.
 
 
Now, let's modify the properties of the line to give it the appearance of a center line.
 
Click twice on the line; the first click will activate it, and the second will bring up its menu.
 
 
Click [Modify] - [Properties] - [Open].
 
Enter these settings for the object style:
 
 
Click OK.
 
 
Now, we're going to draw this line:
 
 
On the opposite side of the drawing, we can see that the line's angle is 12.953 degrees.
 
 
Since we're on the opposite side, we'll draw the line at 180 - 12.953 = 167.047 degrees.
 
Click [Line] - [Drawing Line].
 
This time, let's enter the coordinates using the keyboard.
 
Click [Enter coords].
 
Type in X0 Y-147.5 and click OK.
 
 
Click [Enter angle].
 
Type in 167.047 and click OK.
 
 
Drag the mouse to the left to set its length. Move the mouse to X-250 and click.
 
 
Now we're going to draw this line:
 
 
 Click [Line] - [Drawing Line] - [Enter coords].
 
Type in X-97.5 and Y42.5. Click OK.
 
Click [Enter angle] and type in 194.697 (which is 90+104.697).
 
Move the mouse to X-250 and click.
 
 
Next, let's connect the two lines on the left side.
 
Click [Line] - [Drawing Line].
 
Ensure that the endpoint snap is activated.
 
 
 
Move the mouse to one of the line's endpoints on the left, let it snap, then click. Repeat this on the other line.
 
 
Now, let's draw these two lines:
 
 
Click [Line] - [Drawing Line].
 
Click here:
 
 
Click [Enter angle].
 
Type in 90 and click OK.
 
Click [Enter length] and type in 105. Click OK.
 
Click [Line] - [Drawing Line].
 
Click at the endpoint of the last line you drew, then drag the mouse to the right up to X0 and make a final click.
 
 
Excellent! Now let's add the four R20 corner fillets.
 
Click once on this line:
 
 
Click on the top handle to show its popup-menu.
 
Click on the Fillet button.
 
 
Enter 20 in the bottom input field and press Enter.
 
 
Repeat this process for the other corners.
 
 
 
For better organization, let's group the objects we've drawn so far (excluding the center line).
 
Hold down Control on the keyboard and click all solid lines and arcs. Keep holding down Control until they are all selected.
 
 
Right-click anywhere in the window and select [Group selected] from the menu.
 
 
Now, if you hover the mouse over any of the objects, you will see that it is part of a group.
 
 
From now on, these objects will be treated as one object.
 
Now, let's add the circles!
 
We add points as center references.
 
Click [Point] - [Enter coords].
 
Type in X-70 Y117.5 and click OK.
 
Repeat this step and type in X-212.5 Y-25.
 
Create a final point at X-35 Y-105.
 
Press Esc on your keyboard to exit the point function.
 
Click [Circle/ Arc] - [Drawing Circle/ Arc] - [Center - Radius].
 
Let the mouse snap to the point and click.
 
 
Drag the mouse until you read R10 and click.
 
Hold down the SHIFT key and press Enter on the keyboard to create a complete circle.
 
 
Repeat the process and create a circle with a radius of 17.5 at the same center. This time, click on [Enter radius] and type in the radius.
 
 
Let's group the three objects we just made.
 
Right-click anywhere in the window, then click [Select Window] in the menu.
 
 
Click above and to the left of the circles, and then drag the mouse to enclose the objects.
 
 
Click again to select the objects.
 
 
Right-click the window again and select [Group selected] from the menu.
 
 
Now we can create copies of the group.
 
Hold down SHIFT on the keyboard, then click and drag the group to a new location and release.
 
 
Repeat this once more, so you end up with three groups.
 
 
Now we can move the two copies to new locations.
 
Click on one of the groups and select [Modify] - [Move] from the menu.
 
 
Click the center point as a reference point.
 
 
Click on the leftmost point.
 
 
Repeat and move the last group to the bottom point.
 
 
Great! Let's continue with the pocket.
 
 
We can use the offset function to assist us in creating the pocket.
 
Click [Modify] - [Offset] - [Distance] and type in 20. Click OK.
 
 
Click on the line above the pocket and then somewhere under it.
 
 
Click on the line below the pocket and then somewhere above it.
 
 
Now we need to change the offset distance. Click [Distance] and type in 72.5. Click OK.
 
 
Click on the line to the left of the pocket and then somewhere to its right.
 
 
Change the distance to the width of the pocket. Click [Distance] and type in 70.036. Click OK. Click on the line you just created and somewhere to its right.
 
We now have four lines that can be edited to form the sides of the pocket.
 
Press Esc on the keyboard to cancel the offset function.
 
Click on the left line to show its handles.
 
Ensure you have at least Endpoint and Intersection snap activated.
 
 
 
Drag the top and bottom handles so that the endpoints of the line intersect with the top and bottom lines.
 
 
Repeat this step for the other three lines.
 
 
Let's add the corner radius.
 
Click on the top line and then on its endpoint handle, followed by the fillet button.
 
 
 
Enter 20 at the bottom of the window.
 
 
Press Enter.
 
Repeat this process for each corner.
 
 
Great work!
 
Let's draw the circular slot.
 
 
We can use guide lines and circles to assist us with the slot.
 
Click [Circle/ Arc] - [Guide Circle] - [Center - Radius].
 
Let the mouse snap to the zero point and click.
 
Click [Enter radius] and type in 70. Click OK.
 
 
The drawing indicates that the centers of the end arcs are 90 degrees apart.
 
 
Let's draw guide lines at 180 - 45 and 180 + 45 degrees.
 
(We use 180 degrees because we are drawing on the right side.)
 
Click [Line] - [Guide Line] and then at the zero point.
 
Click [Enter angle] and type in 135. Click OK.
 
Once again click [Line] - [Guide line]. Click the zero point.
 
Click [Enter angle] and type in 225. Click OK.
 
 
Now we will draw the two side arcs of the slot.
 
Click [Circle/ Arc] - [Drawing Circle/ Arc] - [Center - Radius].
 
Click the zero point.
 
Click [Enter radius] and type in 80. Click OK.
 
Let the mouse snap to the upper intersection point between the guide circle and the line.
 
 
Click there and let the mouse snap to the bottom intersection.
 
 
As you can see, the arc ghost preview goes in the wrong direction. Hit space to flip it.
 
 
Now the arc is correct. Click at the bottom intersection.
 
 
We can use the offset function to create the other side of the slot.
 
Click [Modify] - [Offset].
 
Click [Distance] and type in 20 (the width of the slot). Click OK.
 
Click on the arc and then on its right side.
 
Press Esc on the keyboard to end the offset function.
 
 
We will now draw the arcs at the end of the slot.
 
Click [Circle/ Arc] - [Drawing Circle/ Arc] - [Center - radius].
 
Let the mouse snap to the top intersection between the guide circle and the line and click.
 
 
Make another click at the intersection of the guide line and the outside arc.
 
 
Click one more time at the same point to tell SimCam that we want this location to be the start angle of the arc as well.
 
Move the mouse to the intersection on the other side. Hit space on the keyboard to flip the direction of the arc and make a final click.
 
 
Repeat this procedure at the bottom of the slot.
 
 
Let us clean up the drawing by deleting the guide circle and the guide lines.
 
Click on each object and select delete from its context menu.
 
 
Now we should have:
 
 
If you have not yet saved your drawing, this is a good time to do it.
 
We are now done with the part of the drawing we are going to mirror.
 
For convenience, let us make a group of everything except the center line.
 
Press Ctrl - A on the keyboard to select everything.
 
While holding down Ctrl, click on the center line to deselect it.
 
Right-click anywhere in the window and select [Group selected].
 
 
Click on any object in the group and then select [Modify] - [Mirror].
 
 
Hold down Shift on the keyboard (to make a copy) and click on the center line.
 
 
Almost done!
 
Let's now create the central holes.
 
Click [Circle/ Arc] - [Drawing Circle/ Arc] - [Center - radius].
 
Click the zero point.
 
Click [Enter radius].
 
Enter 40 and click OK.
 
Retain the Shift key pressed and press Enter.
 
Repeat this process, this time with a radius of 50.
 
That's it!
 
Remember to save your progress before we move forward.
 

Create toolpaths

 
We're now going to generate toolpaths to create a CNC program.
 
We'll start by creating a workpiece. Here's how:
 
Press F2 on your keyboard to bring up the inventory browser.
 
Navigate to the Mill Workpieces tab.
 
Click on the Add New button.
 
For the Workpiece Name, input "CADCAM Tutorial". Set the workpiece size as shown in the image below.
 
 
Once you're done, close the window.
 
We now need to include the workpiece we've just created into the SimCam document.
 
Navigate to [More] - [Workpiece].
 
Use the arrows to locate the last workpiece (the one we just created).
 
 
Click OK.
 
You'll notice that we need to adjust the workpiece to the correct position.
 
 
To do this, click on the workpiece and select [Modify] - [Move] from its context menu.
 
Choose the lower left corner of the workpiece as the reference point.
 
In the fields at the bottom of the window, input X-255 and Y-155.
 
 
Press Enter.
 
 
Next, we'll adjust the origin for the CNC program.
 
Navigate to [More] - [CAM Settings].
 
Here too, input X-255 and Y-155.
 
 
Click OK.
 
Observe how the origin symbol has shifted.
 
 
With everything set up, let's start by cutting the pockets.
 
First, we'll have to disassemble the group we created earlier.
 
Click on the left side of the contour and select [Modify] - [Break apart].
 
Repeat the same for the right side of the contour.
 
Click on one of the objects for the left pocket.
 
From the context menu, select [CAM] - [Pocket].
 
 
Fill in the following data:
 
 
Click OK.
 
Use the toolside arrows to ensure the toolpath is inside the pocket.
 
 
Click on Done!
 
Repeat this process for the right-side pocket.
 
Press the Play button to simulate and verify that everything looks good so far.
 
 
Note that you can fine-tune the cutting process for pockets (and other operations) later by adjusting the parameters for each operation layer.
 
Return to SimCam by clicking on the SimCam tab.
 
Select the larger center circle and choose [CAM] - [Pocket].
 
 
Fill in these values:
 
 
Use the arrows to keep the toolpath inside the circle.
 
 
Click Done!
 
If the layers panel isn't open, click on the layers button to open it.
 
 
Click on the eye icon on the last layer to hide it.
 
 
Now, repeat the pocket procedure for the smaller center circle.
 
 
Use the following values:
 
 
Ensure you change the toolpath to go on the inside, and click Done!
 
In the layers panel toolbar, click on the lightbulb icon and select Show All.
 
 
Simulate again.
 
 
Now it's time to cut the two slots.
 
First, we'll manually create a contour layer (since we're not using the CAM menu for this operation).
 
In the layers panel toolbar, click on the gear button and select Contour from the menu.
 
 
Click the small gear icon on the new layer.
 
 
Click the gear icon in the tool window and input the following values:
 
 
Click OK.
 
In the Cutting Operation Parameters form, fill in these values:
 
 
Click OK.
 
Now we need to add a contour to the layer so that SimCam knows what to cut.
 
Navigate to [More] - [Contour] - [Track].
 
 
Let the mouse snap to the endpoint of this arc.
 
 
Click, then let it snap to the other end of the arc.
 
 
Press Esc on your keyboard to end the tracking operation.
 
Make sure to change the toolside to go on the inside.
 
 
Now we'll show you a trick to create the slot on the right side.
 
In the layers panel, click on the last layer (the contour layer you just created) to select it. It should have a dark grey frame around the layer.
 
 
In the layers panel toolbar, click on the duplicate button.
 
 
You'll get a copy of the slot layer with the same objects and parameters.
 
 
On the bottom new layer, click the gear icon.
 
Click on the Transformation tab and enter 180 as Rotate Angle.
 
 
Click OK.
 
Both slots are now cut!
 
 
Let's drill the holes.
 
From the layers panel gear button, create a drilling layer.
 
 
Click on the drilling layers gear icon to open its parameters.
 
Click on the gear icon for the tool and fill out the following values:
 
 
Click OK.
 
In the Cutting Operation Parameters form, fill out these values.
 
 
 
Click OK.
 
Click [Point] and then click in the center of each hole.
 
 
Press Esc on your keyboard to end the point operation.
 
Now we can duplicate the drilling layer and simply change the parameters.
 
Click on the Duplicate Layer button.
 
 
Open the parameters for the new layer.
 
Change the data for the tool to the following:
 
 
Change the layer parameters to these:
 
 
Change the drill parameters to this:
 
 
Click OK.
 
Simulate.
 
(Note that you can press Ctrl - Q on the keyboard to do a quick simulation.)
 
 
We're almost finished!
 
Let's complete the process by cutting the outer contour.
 
We'll use the Contour function in the CAM context menu. But first, we need to address a minor issue. The center line will interfere with the contour function because contours cannot have intersections. We can solve this by moving it to a separate layer that we then disable.
 
Create a new drawing layer (guide layer) by clicking on the plus button in the layers panel toolbar.
 
 
A new layer will appear at the bottom of the layers panel.
 
 
Next, click on the center line and select [Cut] from its context menu.
 
 
The line will be deleted and copied to the clipboard.
 
Click [Select] - [Paste] in the SimCam menu.
 
 
The center line will reappear on the new layer (as we had this layer selected).
 
Click on the padlock icon to disable the layer. This ensures that the centerline won't interfere with the Contour operation.
 
 
Now we need to ungroup the outer contour.
Click on any object on the left side of the contour and select [Modify] - [Break apart] from the menu.
 
 
Do the same on the right side.
 
 
Click on any object on the contour and select [CAM] - [Contour] from the menu.
 
 
Set these parameters:
 
 
Use the arrow buttons to make sure the tool goes on the outside of the contour. This is indicated by small orange arrows pointing outwards.
 
 
Click Done!
 
Don't forget to save your document.
 
Simulate.
 
 
Congratulations on successfully completing this CAD/CAM tutorial! You've made significant strides in learning how to use this intricate and powerful tool.
 
We covered a wide range of topics, from the basics of drawing lines and curves, grouping and mirroring objects, to the more advanced procedures of creating toolpaths for CNC programming. You've also learned to create a workpiece, move it to the correct position, and set parameters for various cutting operations.
 
Remember, mastery comes with practice. Don't hesitate to experiment and try creating your own designs. Each new project will enhance your understanding and proficiency.