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CAD/CAM software for medium sized commercial millwork shops3/30
I'm trying to find a CAD/CAM solution for a medium sized (20 on floor) commercial millwork shop. We are currently drafting in Solidworks and programming the CNC manually with V-Carve. We were looking at Microvellum but from what I've read here it isn't much better for highly customized millwork versus manually drafting and programming. Does anyone have any experience with WoodCAD|CAM? Do these pricey software suites offer any advantage over manually programming highly custom items alongside a more economical cabinet package, like Mozaik?
We enjoy the flexibility designing and drafting in Solidworks gives us, but not having a hard link to the G-Code creation and no automatic material and hardware take-offs slows us down and causes errors.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
My advice is to use caution regarding what you read here about Microvellum. Some of the forum posts are very outdated and refer to older versions of the software. In the last year or so, Microvellum has come up with some very new and unique solutions for “highly customized millwork” as you said. The ability to analyze 3D solids (from Solidworks even) is turning out to be a very powerful workflow. Also, next month during the annual Technical conference, MV will be unveiling some amazing new library data developed in response to customer feedback to make things more efficient for our users.
Whatever software you end up deciding on, good luck and happy researching!
Ryan, please take a look at Skooter. We're focused on a simpler way to engineer, using SketchUp as the foundation. If it looks like something you'd want to consider, just drop us a line.
If you are happy with what you are getting from Solidworks to this point, why not build on that. One option is to use a product from Cim-Tech called Solid-Cim. Solid-Cim allows the user, to take a 3d model from SolidWorks, Inventor or AutoCad and generates the file needed for Cam software. In this case the Cam software is Router-Cim.
There are also woodworking options for Solidworks such as Swood and Pathfinder3d. I am aware of these but have not used either one.
It seems to me at least, that it would be easier to build on the products you are using. Rather than bring in a whole new package of software which may or may not fulfill your needs.
We need something with "cabinet intelligence" so maybe these products you linked above would give us that. I will check them out. Thanks!
I would happily give you a demo of Pathfinder 3D so you can see if it works for you.
We started using solidworks about 2 years ago and are able to drag solid parts into Alphacam to create CNC programs for all our machines (still need to manualy do some tool paths).
We are considering the Swood product to make design faster, add connecting machining, and enforce standards.
Not convinced yet as to what is best option. Not many good choices out there.
We manufacture Institutional Casework, Therapy and Athletic training equipment -
Sorry to hear about your experience with the cam software you purchased. I always get the impression from many software providers think woodworking is easy. Woodworking has a lot of quirks that a good software will handle.
A good software should not be a burden, yet enhance what you are doing. The package should allow you to accomplish your tasks in a timely and efficient manor.
I use Solid-Cim in both Inventor and AutoCad (We draw in 3d AutoCad.) The software is pretty good in regard to feature recognition, much better than 90%. There are some part drawings I do have to tweak, because of how we set our Cam software up. As long as the part is drawing the drilling, dados, rabbets and cutouts are recognized when the part drawing is created.
As for the Cam portion, there are plenty Cam solutions out there which will automatically nest and generate g-code.
When getting demos of software, make certain, you see them demo what you are doing. Even using your models to verify the results are what you are looking for.
Lastly, you mentioned "cabinet intelligence", could you be more specific on what you are looking for.
All of our existing cabinet models are single, multi-body parts. We began re-modeling everything as separate parts-based assemblies because Camworks choked on those. It was becoming a major undertaking to re-model our library and we found the Camworks workflow slow and clunky compared to cabinet specific software. No small part handling, no edge-banding labeling, and no automated cut-sheets, etc.
By "cabinet intelligence" I mean automated cut-lists and BOMs, the ability to adjust edge-banding and hardware machining for a whole job, and quickly adjust materials and thicknesses without having to edit every cabinet. I tried modeling parts-based assemblies with custom parameters, and external linked equations, and found Solidworks would start to glitch out with larger rooms.
Do you know if Solid-Cim works with multi-body parts?
what is yours budget?
I am not certain how SolidWorks does things. So I cannot speak specifically oon how Solid-Cim works within SolidWorks. It would be best to send an email to Cim-Tech and ask them that question. There is a video on their website of the processing a cabinet from SolidWorks with Solid-Cim.
I can give an idea how it works in Inventor (Which may or may not be similar to Solidworks.) How I do run a fixture thru Inventor, is I create a multi-body part and then convert the multi-part into an assembly. It is at the assembly level that I can use Solid-Cim to create a CSV file for a cut list and output parts for the CAM software.
In my case we also use an add-on to handle things like edgebanding and such, though I know Solid-Cim has a method to handle edgebanding.
The CSV file created is what I use to insert into Excel and create my Cutbill.
It's hard to completely address your questions without knowing more information. Many people say their work is unique and custom, but forget that their work has similarities regardless of size, color, finish, etc. Is your work truly unique, or is it many variations of a similar product?
Instead, I'll address what I can with what you've posted so far.
I've been a Microvellum user for over 13 years now. I've seen it change dramatically in that time, but more so within the last 2-3 years than all the time before. It's simply not the same tool it was. For one, the libraries have improved substantially both in function and simplicity. The differences within the program itself is also night and day. With some of the latest tools, even one off custom work is much faster than before. I'd suggest you take a hard look at the latest videos on custom workflow in microvellum before making your decision.
Now, a few points on what you've given us so far:
"I'm trying to find a CAD/CAM solution for a medium sized (20 on floor) commercial millwork shop"
"We enjoy the flexibility designing and drafting in Solidworks gives us, but not having a hard link to the G-Code creation and no automatic material and hardware take-offs slows us down and causes errors."
"By "cabinet intelligence" I mean automated cut-lists and BOMs, the ability to adjust edge-banding and hardware machining for a whole job, and quickly adjust materials and thicknesses without having to edit every cabinet. "
Based on above, the pains you're experiencing revolve around the system that pushes information to the floor.
One other thing, the best thing in my opinion, about MV is it's open ended. You can develop products that have more options, specific to you and your needs, then any other software. But with today's library data, you don't have to.
Software decisions are never easy, good luck with yours.
Microvellum. all the way, very dynamic company that will work with you to meet your goals. Nope not a paid plug, just a satisfied user for 10+ years.
Be cautious about what you believe from software sellers. They all can do slick demos but reality can be much different. We gave up on MV 3 years ago. Maybe they have turned over a new leaf. They certainly needed to.
Larry, You give up way too easily. I can accomplish things in Microvellum that most other software packages are still only dreaming about. It's all about the users skill sets.
Brian, Before I bought a new bore & insert machine I asked MV if they could provide a post for it. No problem they said. For several months after we got the machine they fooled around and never did get a working post for it. They would ignore me for weeks. One of my geeky office guys went to work on it and got it to work, sort of. So, how many months should I have waited?