AI Reduces CAM Programming Time

Nov. 24, 2023
By automatically generating machining strategies, CAM programming time can be accelerated by up to 80%.

CloudNC, a manufacturing technology company backed by Autodesk and Lockheed Martin, has released its CAM (computer aided manufacturing) Assist software as a plug-in for Autodesk's Fusion 360 software platform. The software uses advanced computational optimization and artificial intelligence inference techniques to rapidly determine a strategy and toolset needed to manufacture a part, along with the most appropriate cutting speeds and feeds from the user’s library.

CAM Assist can reportedly generate professional machining strategies for 3-axis parts in seconds, a process which can take CNC machine programmers hours or days to manually create. This means the time it takes to program a CNC machine to make a component can be reduced by up to 80% compared to manual programming, saving manufacturers hundreds of production hours a year. 

To determine this time savings, CloudNC conducted side-by-side trials of CAM Assist with senior CAM programmers. 

CloudNC says that, with the CAM Assist plug-in, a Fusion 360 user can upload a 3D model of a 3-axis component and the software will determine the best milling tools needed from those available, and how they will be used. CAM Assist drafts the code required to instruct a CNC machine how to make it, within seconds, in the user’s existing CAM platform. 

While the software currently performs best with 3-axis components, CloudNC said multi-axis and freeform capabilities will be available soon. 

CloudNC adds that CAM Assist’s capabilities enable junior employees to program more complex parts and be productive faster, helping to address the manufacturing sector’s skills gap. 

Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures, said: “We see opportunity where CloudNC’s software solution can capture and automate the vast amounts of historic institutional knowledge within our manufacturing workforce. CloudNC is taking steps to effectively and reliably streamline the manufacturing process, which would help secure our defense industrial base.”

CAM Assist is available via the Autodesk App Store.