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Expand your business by eliminating manual programming


CAM Programming

Expand your business by eliminating manual programming

Forces Driving Change

The global market place for job-shops is rapidly changing, with competition coming from all directions and margins shrinking as everyone tightens their machining operations.

Some of the forces driving these changes include:


  • Competitive advantages enjoyed for shorter periods, or the time for small improvements and advantages to spread to the competition is shorter than ever
  • Competitor Pricing & reduced margins, with many shops fighting over the same work, pricing and margins come into play.
  • Increasing machining capability, being able to do more with the equipment that you have, or do it better with your existing equipment.
  • Increased demand on employees, people routinely are forced to wear many hats and perform multiple job functions in the course of their work week.
  • New technologies, these may totally disrupt your current methods of manufacturing.



Job-shops face many challenges when it comes to the forces driving change. Some of these challenges include:


  • Keeping updated with new technologies; this can be utilizing the latest tool geometries, the latest software algorithms, the latest workholding, etc.
  • Achieving and maintaining a productivity advantage; finding a process or method that provides a clear competitive advantage, and keeping that advantage without falling behind in the future.
  • Finding or training a skilled work staff; some job-shops recruit from within, some hire from outside. In either case, you can’t expect poorly trained employees to excel and provide competitive advantages over well trained employees.
  • Maximizing machine utilization; there is a saying, “if the spindle isn’t turning, you aren’t earning”, utilize the right accessories to keep the machines running, even after hours if possible.
  • Maximizing machine capabilities; getting the most out of your machine, utilizing the horsepower and torque available to their fullest capability, running it closer to it maximum limits versus only using a small percentage of its capabilities.


Disadvantages of Manual Programming

There are many arguments for and against manual CNC programming on the controller, below is a list of the common disadvantages which are addressed by CAD/CAM programming.

Time spent programming

Typically, the machine is not running as one programs a part on the controller, or when they perform a dry run prior to making parts. In a CAD/CAM environment, you can program the part offline, while the mill is running something else. Also, you can simulate the program, to show exactly how it will run on the mill, saving time necessary for a dry run.

Human error

Manual programming, especially where trigonometric functions are necessary, are prone to human and rounding errors. Finding these errors can take a long time. With CAD/CAM systems, what you see on the screen is what you will get when run on the mill.

Visualizing tooling and workholding

When programming by hand, you may have to take into consideration the location of fixtures and clamps to avoid collisions. These can be imported into a CAD model and visualized and avoided automatically.

Fast part changes

Any time a part changes one must either sort through the code to make changes, or start over. CAD/CAM systems maintain associativity between the part and the CNC program, where if the part is edited, the cutterpaths will automatically update.

Quality of program, maximizing output

A CAD/CAM system can create cutterpaths where the chip removal rate is constant at all times. This will allow you to run at a maximum feed for the chip at all times. This is virtually impossible to calculate manually, and as a result, machine operators often run at reduced speeds most of the time.


You learn a CAD/CAM system once and use it on all machines. However, if you program manually, you have to learn to program on every different controller and future purchases, within the shop.

Data management

Data archival and retrieval done manually is prone to errors, or time consuming to find the correct part from the past. Many CAD/CAM systems perform these functions automatically for working with past jobs.

Advantages of automatic CAD/CAM programming

Besides overcoming many of the disadvantages of manual programming, there are several other advantages to CAD/CAM programming.

Stop recreating parts

If you are manually programming to a drawing, odds are someone already created a 3D model of the part. Don’t waste time recreating what’s already been designed, work on the original 3D file from the start.

Take on more difficult work

Expand your capabilities by taking on work that would be unrealistic to program manually. Not only do many of these more difficult parts pay better, but you now have a larger pool of potential work to draw from.

Quote more accurately and quickly

Utilize a CAD/CAM system during the quoting process to ensure your run times are as accurate as possible. This allows you to more accurately quote parts, and more regularly have the correct profit built in.

Work Offline

Design and program parts while the machine is running another job. Take your work on the road and make updates and changes anytime, anywhere, and upload the data or save it to the cloud as needed.

Collaborate better

Have a question on a part, and need a quick answer? Collaboration tools allow you to share your question, on the 3D model, with others, and get immediate feedback.

Maximize machine utilization

Besides helping to keep the machines running while you program offline, utilizing digital simulation in your CAM system can provide the confidence needed to run unattended or overnight. This can greatly improve machine utilization and increase profits while simultaneously reducing downtime.

Earn more high value business

Switching from manual CNC programming to a CAD/CAM system can help you earn more high value business. Work directly on customer data, or designed data, offline, and keep the spindle turning more often.

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