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SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard Milling Setup 1/9: Defining Machine

Article by Shawn McEachern created/updated March 8, 2019

In this article, we will define our CNC Machine for 2.5/3 axis milling in SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard. To machine our parts properly we must define the capabilities of our CNC Machine.

Defining a CNC Machine

In the SOLIDWORKS CAM Feature Tree we can define our Machine using any of the following methods:

  1. Select the Define Machine Icon in the Command Manager
  2. Select Machine in the CAM Feature Tree, pick your right-mouse button and select Edit Definition
  3. Double-click on Machine in the CAM Feature Tree.
Define Machine in SOLIDWORKS CAM

Define Machine

Machine Set-up

Once the Machine Set-up dialog is active, we can see the list of available machine types in the Machine tab. We will select Mill-Inch (2.5/3 axis milling) and hit the Select button. This step is very important as the machine parameters will not be loaded unless the Select button is pressed. Now, we can see our parameters for our selected machine. Since our part is in inches only inch machine set-ups are available. Convert the part units to millimeters to access metric set-ups.

More on custom Machine set-up to come in future articles.

NOTE: Mill 4-axis, Mill-5 axis and Turning options are only available with SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional

Machine settings

Machine settings

Tool Crib selection

In the Tool Crib selection tab, we may select a Tool Crib for our set-up. Here, we may also edit an existing Tool Crib or create new Tool Crib’s for our Machine. By selecting a Tool in the list and clicking Edit Tool the parameters for that tool can be altered to match your existing tools and holders. Choose an available Tool Crib and hit the Select button.

More on Tool Crib editing and management to come in future articles.

Tool Crib selection

Tool Crib selection

Post Processor

In the Post Processor tab, we may choose the Post Processor for our machine in this case a Haas VF3 CNC Mill and hit Select. We can now see Our Machine Name and Controller Type.

We can also see the default locations for our Post Processors and load files from other locations using the Browse button.

NOTE: SOLIDWORKS CAM comes with several free Post Processors. Additional Post Processors are available at a cost. Please contact your SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller.

The Universal Post Generator is a free tool to assist users with creating custom post processors for CAMWorks and SOLIDWORKS CAM.


Select a Post Processor


The Posting gives us additional options for Post Processing. The two options are for coolant control and tool diameter / length offsets. Switching to Tool will use the options set in that specific Tool set-up. Leaving this option as Post Processor will use settings programmed into the post processor file. Post Processor is the setting we will use for the majority of machining operations.

By checking the box under Subroutines, the Post Processor will output full positional code for patterned features.

Finally, we may assign a number to the program.

NOTE: The Setup, Rotary Axis and Tilt Axis tabs are only available in SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional.

Posting definition

Posting definition

Next, we will define our Stock using the Stock Manager.

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Shawn McEachern

Shawn McEachern is a SOLIDWORKS Application Expert based in our Oakville, ON., Canada Head Office

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