CAD Computer Aided Design

There are many programs on the market that will allow you to design the geometry to almost anything you can imagine. The process of using a computer to design a product is called CAD.

CAM Computer Aided Manufacturing

Software used to create toolpaths for CNC equipment. The DesKAM 2000 software is a CAM program which allows you to create tool paths directly from your CAD software's DXF (or STL) formatted files. DesKAM will produce the industry standard G-Code files used on most modern CNC production machines.

DXF Design XFER File

Most CAD programs have the ability to save in this industry standard graphics format. The DXF file consists of a series of definitions which describe the drawing in terms of lines, arcs, and other shapes. DXF files may contain 2D or 3D information, and they may vary in complexity depending on the software used to create them. DesKAM works with 2D DXF files.

STL Stereo Lithography File

These files are used to represent complex 3D shapes and items which will be produced with CNC equipment or special stereo lithography rapid prototyping printers. DesKAM 2000 has the ability to convert the surface of these shapes into a series of G-Codes that can be used by DeskNC to machine your parts.

G-Code G-Code Machine Instruction

G-Code is the workhorse of the machining and manufacturing community. It consists of a series of codes, all starting with the identifier "G", that describe the actual machine movement in simple steps. This is the actual code used to operate the CNC equipment while it makes your parts. DeskNC is software that can interpret these codes and directly create the signals from your computer to control the servo or stepper motor drivers.

M-Code M-Code Machine Instruction

A subset of the G-Codes above. Click the button above to learn more.

Putting it all together
You have a general understanding of the components that make up a CNC system... now how do they all work together? How do you go from a concept to a finished product?

You start by drawing your design using a CAD program. After you have drawn your part, you will save the geometry in 3D STL or 2D DXF format. DXF is the most common format used today. Once you have the file saved in DXF format, exit your CAD program and start DesKAM 2000.

DesKAM 2000 will load in your DXF file and allow you to select a tool style, what kind of milling or drilling operation will be performed, and other machine related parameters. From your input, DesKAM 2000 will do all the required calculations to create an accurate set of paths for the tool to follow. You may edit these paths to get the best possible combination to successfully create your part.

Once the tool paths are created, DesKAM can save the ASCII file containing the G-Codes needed to control your equipment. The files may also be sent to others in the manufacturing community to create the part for you.

If you will be manufacturing the item yourself, now is the time to load the file into the computer connected to your CNC equipment. DeskNC will read the gcode file and output the required signals to drive your stepper motor drivers directly. DeskNC will interpret each G-Code and properly move the tool along the tool path. Minor equipment backlash can even be corrected automatically by DeskNC.

That's It! This powerful software combination is the key to creating those intricate parts you thought you could never make! Welcome to the world of CNC.