While I have Built Computers from Scratch in The Olden Days, Know several Programming Languages, and have used various Computers for 44 years, I do Not consider myself to be any kind of an Expert on CNC Programming, as this is a Speciality that one needs to do on a
Daily Basis to become and remain Proficient.
The Purpose of this Web Page is to Introduce the Newcomer to General Current Practices in
CNC Fabrication Programming, and then Both Newcomers & Experienced Users can use the
Hot-Links Listed Below to gather more Information from the Software Venders themselves.
Programming Software Types and Usage varies greatly from vender to vender.
Some are Simple & Well-Integrated, while others are Complex and perhaps more Powerful,
with many Features that may Integrate with different Program "Modules" (such as Un-Folding, Optimization, and Part-Nesting) that you can Process your Part Program through.
Different CAD Software Packages work in Different Ways But, In General, you First "CAD-Up" (Part-Creation, Design, Draw, and Dimension) your Part in 2D (Flat-Pattern) or 3D, and generate a File of this Information.
This may also be done using your Programming Software Package itself.
Or, a Cad-File may have already have been created by your own Engineers, or supplied to you by your Customer's Engineers who used Different Software like AutoCAD or SolidWorks.
Their Files would then be Imported into your Programming Package for further work & editing.
The CAD-File would be Unfolded if it were a 3D File, into a 2D Flat-Pattern File, then it would be Reworked & Edited using criteria on the Machine & Process to be used, Tools & Tool-Paths, Workclamp Gripping Placements, Etc., Etc. into a Source-Code File.
This Source-Code File is then run through a Machine-Specific Postprocessor Program, and perhaps a Nesting and Optimization Program, that converts it in to a NC-Run File (G-Code)
for the Specific-Machine that You plan to run it on.
You then Download This NC Program File to your Machine, and Run your Parts.
Postprocessors are written by Your Software Package Vendor Specifically for Your Machines.
Postprocessors Taylor the Code to work on Your Machine, with it's particular Turret, Table-Size, CNC Control, Code-Set, and Features like Auto-Index, etc. For Example, If you have Multiple Machines, like a Strippit Punch, an Amada Punch, and a Mazak Laser, you could purchase 3 Postprocessors. Each Postprocessor would be Custom Set-Up to make Correct NC Code for each of Your Machine Tools.
Then you could take your Original CAD/CAM Source Code,
run it through any of your 3 Postprocessor's,
to generate NC-Files (G-Code) to make the Same Part on any of your 3 different Machines.
Again, as the above procedures vary Greatly by Vendor and even by the Software Package
(some vendors offer different Versions and Levels of Software) You need to Evaluate Software
Carefully Yourself to determine what suits Your Particular Needs!
Contact Vendors, most will provide Free Demo Programs, Instructional Tapes, DVD's, and Downloads for your Evaluation. Some also have Traveling Salesman that can be scheduled to stop in to provide a Live Demo of their Programs, See their Demos!
As Software is Quite Portable, many Software Companies are based in another Country. As long as they have a Office or Distributor providing Good Support in your Country, this should not be a big concern. As with your Machines, Service & Technical Support is Extremely important,
make sure it is available and will be there when you need it!
While I may have comments for some of them, I make No Recommendations, as it is Impossible to stay Current on all these Companies and their Evolving Products.
You Need to Compare their Products! And I'm Sure there are More Good Companies Out-There that I do not know about, please let me know of them! Here, In Alphabetical Order,
are some Independent Software Companies & other Resources for Sheetmetal Punch Fabrication;