SolidWorks CAM, powered by CAMWorks, is a software add-in that integrates design and manufacturing into one program. With SolidWorks CAM, you can easily prepare your designs to be machined on a 2.5 Axis Mill. When you’re going through this process of setting up your part to be machined, you’ll come across several 2.5 axis features.
You can define which features SolidWorks CAM will recognize automatically from the “Mill Features” tab in the Options menu. However, this menu doesn’t tell you much about what all these machinable features are.
As you learn how to use SolidWorks CAM, it’s helpful to have an understanding of the essential 2.5 axis features. In this article, we’ll explain many of those features, so they feel more familiar when you are working with them.
A face feature is a planar face that is parallel to the mill part setup. It is commonly used to machine down the stock to the top-most planar face of the part itself.
Tip: If SolidWorks CAM doesn’t recognize your face feature, right click on “Mill Part Setup” and then choose the “2.5 Axis Feature” in the dropdown menu. Make sure to select “Face Feature” as the type, and then define the plane to machine up to. Checking the 2.5 Axis Feature Type will be a common procedure when working with these features!
If your part has an extrude, you’ll need to machine away all the material around it in order to produce it. In SolidWorks CAM, this is done with a specific type of feature called “open pockets.” Open pockets are perfect for situations when you need to machine out to the edges of the part.
A chamfer is when the machine cuts away to produce a sloping edge. With a few tweaks to custom features, you can define chamfers by using two pocket features. After creating the main pocket feature, create a second one and activate the “Side Taper” option. Enter the value to match the chamfer (e.g., 45°) and check “Taper outward” before finishing the feature.
Regular bosses are rectangular features that can be machined as islands inside of pockets. If configured correctly, SolidWorks CAM should recognize bosses this way when you click “Extract Machinable Features.”
Tip: After you generate toolpaths, run simulations to view the results and make sure your features will be machined properly!
When the stock is slightly larger than the part you’re working with, this causes the profile of the part to become a part feature itself. Part perimeter features handily resolve this issue by trimming extra stock from the outer edges of a part.
Sometimes, SolidWorks CAM will be unable to recognize curved edges or open segments when extracting features. You’ll need to define them as Open Profiles, which can be done by setting up a new 2.5 axis feature.
Slots in SolidWorks CAM behave almost identically to pockets. The only difference is that slots have at least one open side. Slots are also created very similarly to pocket features.
Holes are a pretty straightforward feature type, but different hole types — such as tapped holes and thread callouts — will require different machine settings. If your holes aren’t automatically recognized, you can adjust your parameters and strategy from the Feature Tree.
The linear pattern feature allows you to replicate features across a line in two directions. For example, if multiple pockets aren’t recognized due to irregular geometry, you can just define one pocket with a sketch and then use a linear pattern to define the rest.
Circular pattern features are very similar to linear pattern features in SolidWorks CAM. But as the name suggests, the main difference is that circular patterns replicate pre-existing features around an axis instead of in straight lines.
Engrave features allow you to simply and accurately machine text and symbols onto your part. With engraving you’ll be able to customize your text appearance, size, spacing, and any fonts that are loaded onto your machine.
The curve feature in SolidWorks CAM is like engraving. Both take existing sketch geometry on the part and machine it into the stock to a specified depth. The curve feature is useful because the geometry doesn’t have to be confined to a single plane, which means you can machine 3D sketches (e.g., paths for wires or water flow).
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