Creating Milling Features Interactively with SOLIDWORKS CAM

Article by Shawn McEachern updated May 20, 2021

Article

Automatic Feature Recognition (AFR) is a powerful time saver. However, you may find yourself in a situation where you may want more control over your program. In SOLIDWORKS CAM, you may define interactively the milling features you want to machine.

Be sure to Define your Machine, Stock and Coordinate System before you proceed.

In this exercise, we will machine the round thru pocket on the part shown. Since we are not going to use AFR we need to create a Mill Part Setup.

Mill Part Setup

Mill Part Setup

Cutting direction for the machine

Here we need to define the cutting direction for our machine. Since we are using a 3 Axis Vertical Mill the top plane is used, as it is normal to our Z axis. With that selected we see cut direction shown on our part. If not correctly defined adjust accordingly for your machine.

Top plane is used as it is normal to our Z axis

Top plane is used as it is normal to our Z axis

Milling Feature

Once the setup has created, we need to create a Milling Feature for the round pocket. Right-mouse button on the Mill Part setup and select 2.5 Axis Features from the shortcut menu.

SOLIDWORKS CAM 2.5 Axis Milling Features

2.5 Axis Features

Adding Pockets

Since we are milling a Round Pocket select Pocket under 2.5 Axis Feature type. Select the edge of the round pocket. We may also use any sketches that exist the Part. Then click on End Condition.

Pocket Type

Pocket Type

Specifying an End Condition

Under the End Condition options, pick Rough-Finish from 2.5 Axis Feature Strategy. Setting the depth of a feature works the same way as the Extrude function in SOLIDWORKS, so the End conditions will look familiar. We could do this with a Blind End condition, however, if the part geometry changes the blind will remain. Instead, we will use Offset from Face selecting the bottom face of the part and giving it .01” so it clears the bottom of the part.

You may be asking why not use Up to Face and select the bottom face of the part. That approach may require us to adjust our operation settings to be sure the tool will break through leaving a clean pocket. Then click on Islands.

End Condition options

End Condition options

Machining Islands

Our part does not have Islands to machine. If your part does, use Auto Detect to auto select flat faces that exist inside the envelope of our milling Feature or manually select the top edges/faces of the Islands. We may also set a separate End Condition and Side Taper for more complex island geometry. Hit the green check.

Machining Islands

Machining Islands

Generate Operation Plan

We may see our Circular Pocket Feature in the CAM feature tab. Hit Generate Operation Plan or right-mouse button on the Mill Setup and select Generate Operation Plan.

Generate Operation Plan

Generate Operation Plan

Generate Toolpath

Once the Operation Plan has been generated, we may see our Rough and Finish Operations as per our selected strategy in the CAM Operations Tab. Right mouse button on either operation, select Edit Definition to edit the operation parameters. For this exercise, we will use the default operation parameters. Hit Generate Toolpath.

Generate SOLIDWORKS CAM Milling Toolpath

Generate Toolpath

Once the tool paths have been created, we can preview the toolpaths by hovering over the Operation in the Operations Tab. If that looks good, we can simulate and re-adjust the operation parameters as needed.

SOLIDWORKS CAM Milling Tool Path Preview

Tool path preview

Want to learn more about SOLIDWORKS CAM Milling Features?

Learn more tips and tricks in our  SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard and Professional live online classes.

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Shawn McEachern

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