SOLIDWORKS Coordinate System for CAM (Z-axis defines the “UP” direction)

Article by Alin Vargatu, CSWE updated April 25, 2013


I do not have to tell you that treating customers right is paramount for the success of any business. That is true for individuals also.  As a designer using SolidWorks, your very next “customer” is, most of the times, the CNC programmer. He or she will use your SolidWorks model as the input for his CAM program.

In my previous job as a designer in a tool and die shop, I learned very fast how important was to keep my CNC programmer happy. His main complaint was that when importing the SolidWorks models in his program, they came oriented “the wrong way” and he had to spend extra time and clicks to rotate them in “the right” position. The reason fo this extra work is the fact that the “Up” direction in SolidWorks is by default being defined by the “Y” axis, while in most CAM programs is following the “Z”-axis.

Last week, at the SolidWorks User Group in Barrie, John White, the owner and president of White-Line Machine &Tool talked about this issue and asked me if there is any solution available at this time.

The answer is YES and the best part is that a one-time modification of the SolidWorks Templates will solve this problem forever for the whole company.

If you want to become real friends with your CNC programmer, watch the video below and make him (or her) happy:

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Alin Vargatu, CSWE

Alin is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and an avid contributor to the SOLIDWORKS Community. Alin has presented multiple times at SOLIDWORKS World, Technical Summits, and User Group Meetings, while being very active on the SOLIDWORKS Forum.