Building a CAM application on an existing and widely accepted CAD product offers a lot of advantages. This is the reason why leading CAM companies such as SolidCAM and Cimtronics (CAMWorks) have chosen SolidWorks as development platform. This approach offers a lot of benefits to both developers as users.
The developers can focus on specific of CAM implementation instead of programming basic CAD functions required in their application. They simply call necessary functions using standard SolidWorks API. Users benefit from familiar user interface in one integrated environment. They can design CAD models and start CAM application to prepare 3D model for manufacturing without changing the working environment. There is no need to go to any other application to complete the work.
This is a very good practice as long you do not need to deal with CAD models created in another CAD system. Even if your CAD models come from different CAD systems you can always use standard SolidWorks import capability. If this works and you get solid 3D model in SolidWorks your work will be easily done.
Let’s consider the situation when it does not work. Those who tried they know that importing CAD models into SolidWorks is not always a very simple task. In addition not all CAD data formats are supported in SolidWorks. You cannot import directly native CATIA V4 or CATIA V5 into SolidWorks. The support data formats both native (Pro/E, UGX) as neutral (IGES, STEP, VDA-FS) are not always give results you want to have.
The solution in this case is FormatWorks. FormatWorks is not only supporting CAD data formats not present in SolidWorks, but it will in general perform better translation than SolidWorks on formats such as IGES, STEP and even native formats as Pro/E and UGX supported in SolidWorks. FormatWorks offers not only data format conversion, but it has integrated advanced repair & healing tuned to specific requirements of SolidWorks. The data is transferred over the SolidWorks API to ensure perfect translation of most complex CAD data into SolidWorks. The user have full control over the CAD data import (different repair & healing levels), which operate within original model tolerance preventing possible model deformations. In case automatic repair cannot be performed (risk for model deformation) the problem can be repaired using specialized FormatWorks manual repair functions. FormatWorks will perform error analysis and classify errors. A simple manual repair workflow separates defected parts with neighbors into separate SolidWorks documents. You operate on few entities not the complete model. Once repair is performed the original model is automatically updated with the repaired entities. This simple and efficient way will get the most complex models into SolidWorks as valid and editable solids.
FormatWorks maintains the original design intend with any changes. How important this can be for further CAM application shows the following example.
The original CATIA V4 data included 24 surfaces, while directly imported to SolidWorks over IGES format the original surface definition was exploded to 128 surfaces. Using this model in CAM application gives obvious problems (path quality is unacceptable – fig. 1.).
Importing the same model with FormatWorks results in a clean (original definition is preserved) and clean NC path (fig. 2.).
|fig. 1 - CATIA V4 - SolidWorks Direct Import||fig. 2 - Import with FormatWorks|
FormatWorks is a fully integrated SolidWorks add-in, which means that you use the same SolidWorks user interface and stay in one integrated environment even when you work with imported CAD data. You will not have to deal with another application. FormatWorks after installation will just appear as additional menu on the main toolbar. (fig. 3).
FormatWorks advantages have been discovered by many users. They say it offers the most complete solution for managing the CAD data import to satisfy the most critical and demanding applications.
FormatWorks supports all SolidWorks versions up to SolidWorks 2010 in both 32- and 64-bit version. It is offered in various configurations: FormatWorks Standard, FormatWorks Professional, FormatWorks Server providing affordable solutions for wide range of companies from small SME’s to large corporations.