The CAM Overview


This topic contains an introduction to all of the major areas of the CAM system and provides links to all of the machining topics in this help system.

Getting Started Machining

The CAM Tree is where all machining programs start in BobCAM for SolidWorks. The CAM Tree is used to define system settings, including the system defaults and job settings. It is also used to create and edit machining jobs, tools, stock, and features.


Read Me First - CAM Quick Guide

Setting Defaults and Creating Jobs

CAM Defaults

The CAM defaults and new jobs are handled using the top folder in the CAM Tree, CAM Defaults. This item is always available in the CAM Tree. The CAM Defaults include the Current Settings, Cutting Conditions, Tool Pattern, Tool Library, Thread Library, Stock Material Library, Adapter Library, and Tool Holder Library. You start with the CAM Defaults to define the system settings as you need them. This includes machine creation and setup, tool data, operation defaults, and stock materials. You can also use CAM Defaults to start a new machining job.


To create a new job or define system defaults for machining:


  1. In the CAM Tree, right-click CAM Defaults.

  2. Select an item from the shortcut menu as explained in CAM Defaults.

CAM Jobs

All CAM Jobs start with the Machining Job dialog box. You select the Job Type and the machine for the job. You can then start the Stock Wizard, or the Lathe Stock Wizard to begin creating the program. Before you create a job, the CAM Tree only contains the CAM Defaults folder. When you create a CAM job, it is added to the CAM Tree with all the items that you need to start creating the program. The following section shows what items are added to the CAM Tree for each job type. Click the links in the following section to learn all about CAM Jobs.

Milling Job

The following items are added to the CAM Tree when you create a Milling job.


Milling Job     >>

System Default


Post Processor

Milling Tools      >>


Stock      >>

Stock Material

Machine Setup      >>



To learn about Milling Jobs, view The Milling Job.

Turning Job

The following items are added to the CAM Tree when you create a Turning job.


 Turning Job      >>

System Default


Post Processor

Turning Tools      >>


Stock      >>

Stock Material

Machine Setup      >>


To learn about Turning Jobs, view The Turning Job.

Mill Turn Job

The following items are added to the CAM Tree when you create a Mill Turn job.


Mill Turn Job      >>

System Default


Post Processor

Mill Turn Tools      >>


Stock      >>

Stock Material

Machine Setup      >>



To learn about Mill Turn Jobs, view The Mill Turn Job.

The Default Parameter Templates

When a new CAM Job is created, select a Default Parameter Template from the list available in the Machining Job dialog. You can also change the template in the CAM Tree on a job that has already been created. With the proper template saved to the CAM Tree, every feature and operation which have had custom parameters saved to the template will automatically be loaded with those parameters as their default values. To find out more about the Default Parameter Templates, see The Default Parameter Templates topic.


The machine is an integral part of setting up the software to create machining programs. The machine controls various settings such as the post processor and posting parameters for the machine and what type of programming functionality is available for the current job, such as multiaxis output. The following topics contain everything you need to know about machines in BobCAM.


Machine Configuration

The Current Settings Dialog Box

How to Create a Machine

The Machine Definition

Machine Selection in the CAM Tree

The Machine Setup Dialog Box

The Machine Setup Modification and Feature Creation

Creating Tools

The Tool Library contains the tool data for all Mill and Lathe tools in the system with a Drill category that is shared between the two. Creating your tools in the library can greatly speed up program creation. This makes it easy to add the tools that you need for a job to the Tool Crib, which aids in proper tool selection for feature operations in the CAM Wizards.


The Tool Library

The Tool Crib

The Mill Turn Tool Crib

Creating Stock

Milling, Turning, and Mill Turn Jobs start with stock creation which leads you into the Machine Setup to define the machining origin, work offset number, and clearance plane for the Machine Setup. After defining these parameters, you are ready to start creating machining features.


The Stock Wizard (Mill, Mill Turn)

The Lathe Stock Wizard

Stock Materials and Feeds and Speeds

Setting the stock material for your job defines the feeds and speeds that are used for automatic feedrate calculations in the CAM Wizards.


The Stock Material Library

Stock Material Selection and Modification

The CAM Wizards

When you create a CAM feature, the CAM wizard displays to guide you through creating the machining feature. You select the geometry, set the parameters, define the machining strategy, which is the number and order of operations for the feature, and define the individual parameters for each operation. When you finish a machining wizard, the Feature is added to the CAM Tree.


The Milling Features Overview

The Multiaxis Wizard

The Lathe Features Overview

Customizing Operations

Features in the CAM Tree

When you finish a wizard, the feature is added to the job in the CAM Tree. The Feature tree handles feature modification, feature creation, feature status, and operation status. This includes posting status, toolpath visibility, toolpath color, and naming. Editing of geometry selection, boundary selection, operation start points, and toolpath calculation is also accomplished using the Feature tree.


Tip: You can also Enable CAM Tree Flyouts, set new features to be blanked by default, adjust the Look and Feel of the CAM Tree along with how items react to a double-click in the CAM page of the Settings dialog. These can be huge time savers and are highly recommended.


Milling Features in the CAM Tree

Turning Features in the CAM Tree

CAM Tree Warnings

Certain icons can appear in your CAM Tree to inform you of the current state of the associated items. This section will explain those icons and how to handle them.


Feature 2 Axis      >>


         Default Chain Start Point

       Pocket      >>

       Drill Tip Position

       Profile Rough      >>

       Chain Start Point

       Profile Finish      >>

             Chain Start Point


In the above example of a CAM Tree feature, we can tell quite a bit about the history of this feature by its icons. The main icons to take notice of are: 


  • - These icons show there has been a note added. Hover over the icon to see the note. Right-click and select Add Note to edit the note.

  • - These icons show there is no geometry associated with the item or, in the case of the Chain Start Point items, that the original location has not been customized.

  • - These icons show the item is locked from being computed. This can be from the Toolpath Editor being used on an operation, or from applying it specifically to ensure the current toolpath cannot be altered. Right-click the item and select Lock/Unlock Operation to remove the lock and allow the item to be recomputed.


To find out more about reading the CAM Tree, see the Reading the CAM Tree Example

Feature, Geometry, and Machining Strategy Reference Guide

The Feature, Geometry, and Machining Strategy Reference Guide

Toolpath Patterning

Toolpath patterns are used to create repetitive programs from a feature, machine setup, wrapping group, or index system.


Toolpath Patterns

4 and 5 Axis

The following items are used to create programs for 4 and 5 Axis machining. (View the CAM Wizard topics to learn about the 4 Axis Rotary and Multiaxis features.)


Indexing Programs

4 Axis Wrapping

Laser, Plasma, and Waterjet Machining

Creating programs for routers, laser, plasma, and waterjet machines follows the same process as milling with some minor differences in the setup process.


Laser, Plasma, and Waterjet

Program Simulation

Program simulation provides an extensive set of tools for verifying the programs that you create.


Getting Started with Simulation


All of the following topics explain what you need to know about creating NC programs (G-Code). The machine is an important part of posting programs in BobCAM. The following topics explain machine and post processor setup, posting order control, post processor selection and customizing, and how to post (output) the G-code.


The Current Settings Dialog Box

The Machining Order

Post Processors

Customizing Operations

Creating Setup Sheets

Creating Work Offset Patterns