5 tips to choose the right CAM software in the furniture industry

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Choosing the right CAM software for your business can seem daunting. What should you look out for? How can you ensure you get the best bang for your buck?

CAM software refers to Computer-Aided Manufacturing.

CAM software helps to automate the manufacturing of workpieces to get the best possible machining. The goal is to create a file containing the control program for numerically controlled machine tools and that specifies which movements and contours to be executed during the manufacturing process.

To put it more simply, woodworking CAM software tells a machine how to manufacture a workpiece by generating tool paths creating the link between your 3D part and your actual product. Planning the entire manufacturing process is not simple without woodworking CAM software.

How to choose a good wood CAM software? It seems like every company has its way of choosing its wood CNC software,  which gets a bit confusing.

There are plenty of options out there and it can get overwhelming when trying to figure out what program will suit you best. When looking at the options, it’s important to look at the features offered: are they customizable? Do they support programming? Do they manage your CNC machines’ program formats? Will  they give you the ability to modify designs parametrically? What kind of documentation do they provide? These questions will help narrow down the field.

Woodworking is a competitive sector and everyone wants to gain an edge over other companies. To succeed, you need to compete effectively. This means focusing on the customer experience and offering value that cannot be matched.

In this brief article,  we’ll be giving you some quick tips on how to choose the right CAM software.

This should be your first question. If you plan on using your woodworking tools for hobby, work or making items for sale, you might already have some experience with certain programs. If you do, consider what you need out of the program. Can it make rough cuts? Do you need to use different machines? Is it possible that you could build a simple project by buying no-add-ons? Does it support nesting or a point-to-point process? Find out what you need and what you want before buying. You need to consider the size of the project and whether it is something that requires several programs or just one. If you are planning to manufacture many items that require a lot of precision, then you would want to plan and go with a larger package.

person thinking

2. Does the software improve your processes?

A good CAM program ensures all machines perform with maximum efficiency because the machinist does not have to spend time fixing errors, adjusting settings, etc. An experienced machine operator should always be present to ensure the best results. Such CAM software should also be able to support different machines available in the market. For example, SWOOD CAM is compatible with machine brands like HOMAG, BIESSE, SCM, Felder, HOLZHER, MasterWood, Reichenbacher and many more.

3. Research Reviews and Demos

Before you purchase any product, take the time to research reviews and demos online. Look for reviews on certain sites and even on YouTube. Even though demos aren’t always perfect, they give you a good idea of what it’s like to use the program. You can also check out video tutorials on YouTube. These are great because they show you how someone else uses the software. Be sure that the software contains all the features you need, including advanced g-code capabilities, tool path correction, edgebanding aggregates management or automatic machining for pockets, contours, saw-cuts, drillings, etc.


4. What exactly does the software offer?

Make sure that the software you choose offers you a full range of tools that meet your requirements. While many packages offer basic functions, they do not offer everything you might desire. The most important feature that you should look for in CAM software for your furniture projects can be the ability to be parametric. What I mean by ‘parametric’ is that if there are any design changes, all the changes are automatically propagated in the CAM software and, ultimately, they can be easily edited/changed in the program on your CNC machines. This reduces the manual work and other human errors connected with these processes. Also, check whether your software is compatible with the 3-axis to 5-axis machines. There is also some software like SWOOD CAM, available in the furniture market, including all these features and more (machining management tools).
Checking mark up

5. Is it scalable and easy to learn?

Last, you want a well-thought-out interface to navigate easily while using the software. Is there any documentation, any demos, or any technical support? These should be your principal questions. Most software providers have dedicated customer service, so check that before signing that contract. The quick tip here is to purchase from a company that is knowledgeable about the product and will offer excellent support. One that has shown a long-term commitment to manufacturing and helping its customers. Truly, the Internet and e-mail have brought support closer to the end user than ever before.

CAM software is available in three different configurations. Fully integrated CAD/CAM, CAM packages with some CAD and CAM only. So have a thorough check on what your needs are and what’s coming. Buying too little or too much software for your needs are two frequent errors people make when making CAM purchasing selections. If you purchase too little, you will probably have to upgrade later on to a different plan. If you purchase too much, you risk paying too much and failing to use the bulk of the features. The purchase of five-axis simultaneous (5-axis) software when five-axis positional (3+2 axis) software is quicker, simpler, and less expensive and cuts the components just as well is one example of someone buying too much.

Manual worker working in carpentry workshop

Ultimately, choosing the right CAM software for your furniture projects shouldn’t be complicated. Start by defining your needs and checking whether adding software to the mix would improve your processes. Have a thorough review of the software by checking all the features offered and then check whether you are looking at easily scalable software. After checking this list, you are on your way to buying the right CAM software for your wood projects.

Picture of Kunal Bhasin

Kunal Bhasin

Marketing Lead, EFICAD

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