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Autodesk Fusion 360

CAM software for CNC machining

CAM software isn’t just about controlling machines on a shop floor. It’s about bringing together software, machines, processes, and people to build high-quality parts. Discover how to improve and automate computer-aided manufacturing workflows for CNC machining with Fusion 360 professional design and manufacturing software.

What is CAM software?

CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing. In short, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software helps people create programs for a variety of CNC machines to support different manufacturing processes. These may include milling, turning, cutting, and additive manufacturing, to name a few.

What is the difference between CAD and CAM?

CAD stands for computer-aided design. Much like CAM, CAD leverages computational power and software to help designers create more complex and capable designs than they could have by hand. CAD and CAM are different in that CAD helps designers create digital representations called 3D models while CAM helps write code to drive CNC machines that create physical parts.

Why is computer-aided manufacturing important?

CAM unlocks tons of automation and powerful capabilities that simply wouldn’t be possible using conversational or handwritten NC code. High efficiency roughing toolpaths use algorithms that require computers to calculate. Creating toolpaths for complex geometry can be near impossible to do by hand, making CAM software necessary.

Fusion 360 for computer-aided manufacturing

Fusion 360 includes a full suite of CAM tools and toolpaths to support many processes including milling, turning, cutting, and additive manufacturing. Fusion 360 integrates CAD, engineering, documentation, and collaboration tools directly with CAM to improve workflows and address the entire product development process.

What type of industries use computer-aided manufacturing?

  • Automotive

    From high strength billet machined parts to the mold and die used to produce fiberglass shells for a wide range of car bodies.

  • Industrial Machinery

    Whether it’s sheet metal fabrication or bringing castings within tolerance, CAM software is used widely in industrial machinery.

  • Life Sciences

    Both additive and subtractive manufacturing are used to make dental implants, prosthesis, and even joint replacement parts.

  • Aerospace

    Aerospace requires CAM to make high strength, tight tolerance parts where billet machined aluminum and titanium are common.

Use Fusion 360 professional CAM software for CNC machining

Benefits of using Fusion 360 for CAM

  • Integrated with professional CAD

    Design and compensate for workholding, custom stock, and machine components. Associativity helps eliminate painful rework.

  • Seamless collaboration across teams

    Collaborate with shared tool libraries, post processors, custom defaults, and more, syncing best practices across your team.

  • Easy to learn, easy to use

    Access to tool tips, in product chat, and the Learning Panel make Fusion 360 easy to pick up and help with retention over time.

  • Powerful strategies at affordable cost

    Fusion 360 has powerful capabilities to make complex parts quickly and accurately at a fraction of the cost of similar packages.

What is CAM software used for?

  • Creating subtractive manufacturing toolpaths

    Often called machining, this process removes material from an initial block or casting of stock to make the final product. This process often uses mills, lathes, or more complex machines.

  • Creating additive manufacturing toolpaths

    Additive manufacturing is the process of creating parts by depositing material. There are many specific processes under the umbrella of additive manufacturing, but all require CAM software.

  • Creating NC code or G-code

    Once toolpaths have been created, CAM software creates the NC code used to drive the CNC machine. Code tailored to a specific machine can take advantage of special configurations and options.

Modernizing machining preparation: Tapping into cloud-based solutions

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about why companies should augment existing CAM applications with cloud solutions to enable sharing and collaboration with other departments in the development process.

Get started with Fusion 360 CAM software tutorials

  • Fusion 360 CAM mastery in minutes

    Top 6 Quick tips that have helped thousands of other Fusion 360 users.

  • Fusion 360 self-paced CAM learning videos

    Get access to video tutorials and self-guided courses tailored for Fusion 360 CAM programmers and machinists.

  • Fusion 360 YouTube CAM videos

    View tips and tricks, live streams, and get the latest product news from the Fusion 360 machining experts.

See how Fusion 360 works with the machining extension

Fusion 360 - Machining Extension provides advanced manufacturing functionality. Get access to more 3- and 5-axis strategies, toolpath optimization, and process automation.

How CAM software for CNC machining is used

  • MJK Performance

    MJK Performance designs and manufactures high quality, precision CNC machined motorcycle parts.

  • Matsuura

    Matsuura is winning the profit game, gaining competitive advantage by using generative design to automatically create custom workpiece-holding fixtures, and printing them in high-strength polymer overnight.

  • Saunders Machine Works

    Saunders Machine Works uses Fusion 360 and specializes in CNC metal machining, prototype machining, fabrication, and design-for-manufacturing consulting.

Best CAM software free download

Manufacturing has changed so should your tools. Modernize your manufacturing workflows with the only truly unified CAD/CAM software for a fraction of the price.

FOR COMMERCIAL USERS

For professional designers, engineers and machinists. Fusion 360 unifies design, engineering and manufacturing into a single platform.

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FAQs on CAM software

Find answers to frequently asked questions about CAM CNC software.

CAM software is used to create a set of instructions for different machines. Often these instructions are in the form of G code or a similar coding language that tells the machine what to do, where to go, and how to get there. This language is not very friendly to humans, and CAM software acts as a mediator between how humans work and how a machine receives instructions. This basic framework can apply to a variety of applications, including milling, turning, mill/turning, swiss machining, fabrication, robotics, and additive manufacturing.

The cost of CAM software can vary greatly. Entry level packages may be affordable, it’s common for specialized CAM software to climb to the cost of $25,000 USD or more. Legacy CAM software also has maintenance fees required to receive yearly updates. Other hidden costs like post processors apply to most CAM packages, to allow use with the CNC machine. Fusion 360 offers a low cost but comprehensive alternative, starting at $2000/year for access to our entire manufacturing portfolio. There are no additional maintenance costs, and there’s a library of fully customizable post processors for free.

Generally, computer-aided manufacturing software is used to create toolpaths. These aptly named operations define the path the cutting tool will take while removing or adding material. Specific parameters like cutting speed, spindle speed, type of motion, stepover, stepdown, and more are defined in the CAM software to fit the user’s specific application which the computer uses to generate the actual toolpath. Then the post processor translates the toolpath data into NC code that the machine can understand.

CAM software has several advantages over handwritten code or conversational (at the control) programming. First, complex toolpaths that would be impossible to write by hand can be created using CAM software. This includes complex tool motion found in high efficiency roughing toolpaths that leverage high computation algorithms or complex tool motion created from complex part geometry. CAM software like Fusion 360 is associative to the CAD model, so changes to the model automatically update the toolpath, saving time and reducing rework. CAM also allows programs to be created while a job is running on the machine, increasing overall productivity.

Yes, Fusion 360 can generate G-code for many CNC machines thanks to its large library of post processors. G-code is a language that many CNC machines use to operate, and how programmers and operators feed instructions to the machine. While it may seem antiquated, generating G-code is an important part of the programming workflow for the large majority of machinists today.

Yes, Fusion 360 includes a full suite of CAM software to program a variety of CNC machines. Fusion 360 manufacturing has a modern interface and helpful tips built in to make programming easy to learn and CAM easy to use. It’s a great low-cost option to start automating your machining and programming processes.

Resources for CAM software

Get started with computer aided manufacturing with these Fusion 360 tutorials, guides, tips, and tricks.

  • Get quick answers to common manufacturing questions. Learn the fundamentals of milling, and how to create 3+2 toolpaths.

  • This course teaches you how to save common, recurring toolpaths and recall them as needed for similar projects.

  • Learn how to take a part from an assembly into the CAM workspace, and prepare it for multi-axis operations.

  • This lecture covers how to use WCS probing to reduce setup time while accurately locating the stock in the CNC machine.

  • Advanced manufacturing extension in Fusion 360 delivers a bundle of sophisticated Autodesk manufacturing technologies.

  • Read this article for a complete introduction to CNC programming using computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).

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