How to Create a Toolpath Pattern - 3D Rotate


This tutorial explains how to create a toolpath pattern using the 3D Rotate option. The example provided shows how to pattern multiple features that are contained in an Index System. A line is drawn to define the rotation axis around which the toolpath pattern is created.

Example Part

The part file for this tutorial is available for download at: If you are connected to the Internet, you can click the link provided to download and save the Toolpath Pattern 3D Rotate Example 1 file. After extracting the zip file, you can open the file to follow along with this example. In the example file provided, the stock and Machine Setup are already defined for the part.



Part 1) Add the Toolpath Pattern

In the following steps, the toolpath pattern is added to the Index System. This is done instead of adding it to individual features or the Machine Setup. The reason for this is that we want to pattern all of the features that are contained in the Index System, and if we added more milling features to the Machine Setup we may not want them included in the toolpath pattern.


  1. In the CAM Tree, next to Machine Setup, click to expand the tree (if needed).

  2. Right-click Index System, point to Additional Functions, and click Add Toolpath Pattern.

    It is important that you right-click Index System and not Machine Setup.

    This creates the toolpath pattern for all features in the Index System.

  3. In the Toolpath Pattern dialog box, click Rotate and click Next>>.

  4. In the Rotate group, select the 3D Option check box.

  5. In the Angle box, type 60.00.

    This value is used because there are 6 sides of the part being machined.

  6. In the Copies box, type 5.

    Five copies are made because one of the sides is already machined with the first feature.

Part 2) Select Geometry to Define the 3D Rotation Axis

  1. In the Rotation Axis group, under Start, click Pick.

    The Toolpath Pattern dialog disappears and the Toolpath Pattern Picking dialog appears in the Data Entry Manager.

  2. Click the left end of the line.


    The point is added to the Selected Geometry list.

  3. Click OK.

    The Toolpath Pattern dialog returns.

  4. In the Rotation Axis group, under End, click Pick.

    The Toolpath Pattern dialog disappears and the Toolpath Pattern Picking dialog appears in the Data Entry Manager.

  5. Click near the right end of the line.


    The point is added to the Selected Geometry list.

  6. Click OK.

    The Toolpath Pattern dialog returns.


Tip: Notice the Start and End values that are automatically updated in the Toolpath Pattern dialog box. The values are based off of the Index System. The reason to use geometry to define the Rotation Axis is because it is much easier to select geometry than it is to figure out the values to use from the Index System.


To double check the selections, the values should be:



  • X -4
  • Y 0
  • Z -1.875



  • X 7
  • Y 0
  • Z -1.875


If you do not have the same values, you may not have actually clicked the line during the selections. It is important to understand if you click an arbitrary location in the workspace, the values from that location are used. After you click Pick, the first click sets the values from the current mouse pointer location.


  1. To compute the toolpath pattern, click OK.


The result is shown next.



Part 3) Simulate the Program

  1. To simulate the program, in the quick access toolbar of the CAM Tree Manager, click Simulation.


After simulating, the stock model appears as shown next.




  1. To close the simulation, in the BobCAM menu, click Exit Simulation.

Part 4) About the Pattern Rotation

To analyze the example a little further, the rotation of the toolpath pattern around the Rotation Axis uses the right-hand rule. The following images show how the rotation of the pattern is created.


The following image shows the two original features that are used to create the toolpath pattern.




Next is an image of the features with only one copy defined. Notice that the pattern is rotated in the positive direction by using the right-hand rule of the defined rotation axis. (The yellow dot defines the start of the rotation axis and the yellow arrow points in the positive direction of the rotation-axis (line) as selected in this example. The black arrows represent the positive direction of rotation that is used by the pattern.)




This concludes the tutorial.

Related Topics

Toolpath Patterns