In the current market, no single CNC software holds an absolute advantage, and different CNC software packages lack compatibility with one another. As a result, determining the system of the CNC equipment being used to choose the appropriate CNC software can be very important.
This article aims to tell you information on CNC software commonly utilized in Chinese processing plants. We intend to enhance readers’ awareness regarding suppliers and foster a better understanding of the industry’s landscape. By addressing knowledge gaps, we can collectively improve daily work efficiency and productivity.
Ten commonly used CNC Software in China
CNC programming is one of the main steps in the preparation stage of CNC machining. It typically involves analyzing the part drawing to determine the machining process, calculating the tool path to generate tool data, writing the CNC machining program, producing control media, and performing program verification and first-piece test cutting. In the CAD/CAM industry, commonly used software for CNC programming includes Mastercam, PowerMILL, Hypermill, Cimatron, PRO-E, U.G., and CATIA, among others.
1. U.G. (Unigraphics)
U.G., also known as Unigraphics, is a leading software in the field of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). After being acquired by Siemens, UG was rebranded as N.X. U.G. software, originally developed by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company in the United States. It is highly regarded for its comprehensive CAD, CAM, and CAE functionalities integration. It excels in various areas such as modeling, assembly, surface design, motion simulation, and CNC machining, making it the preferred choice for CNC programming, especially for aircraft parts.
In China, U.G. software enjoys popularity not only in CNC machining but also in mold design, making it the most widely used software in these fields.
Mastercam is widely used in the Pearl River Delta region as P.C. platform CAD/CAM software for computer-aided design and manufacturing.
Pros: It originated from a CNC company in the USA and was among the first to enter mainland China. Approximately 70% of CNC factories in the region utilize Mastercam. The software combines drawing and programming functionalities, offering an affordable solution with efficient drawing line structures, good scaling capabilities, and robust surface roughing and finishing functions. It also enables the design of complex curves and surface parts.
Cons: Mastercam primarily focuses on two-dimensional programming, and its usage in three-axis and multi-axis CNC programming is relatively limited.
Cimatron is a professional CNC programming software originating from Israel.
Pros: It offers advanced toolpath functions, surpassing Mastercam in this aspect and addressing some of Mastercam’s limitations. Cimatron provides a flexible user interface and an excellent drawing system, contributing to its popularity in the international mold manufacturing industry. It finds extensive use in mold and electrode processing in the Chinese processing industry, particularly in the mechanical, electronic, scientific research, and aerospace fields.
Cons: Cimatron may have some drawbacks in drawing and modeling compared to other software.
Pros: Hypermill is recognized for its powerful 5-axis toolpath capabilities, earning it the reputation of being “the king of 5-axis” among CNC programming software.
Cons: in the field of data programming in China, Hypermill has relatively low application and popularity.
PowerMILL was initially developed by the British company Delcam and later acquired by the U.S. company Autodesk. It is a comprehensive CNC machining programming software system known for its rich machining strategies.
Currently, PowerMILL has seen significant growth among Chinese users, particularly in the mold processing industry, where it is often considered a standard software choice.
Pro/E, developed by PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation) in the USA, is widely recognized as one of the leading 3D CAD/CAM systems globally. It finds widespread usage across various industries, such as electronics, machinery, molds, industrial design, and toys. The software offers a range of functions, including parts design, product assembly, mold development, CNC machining, and modeling design.
In enterprises located in southern China, Pro/E is extensively utilized for design and modeling purposes. However, software solutions like Mastercam and Cimatron may currently overshadow its usage in programming and processing.
FeatureCAM is a CAM software developed by Delcam, USA. Renowned for its extensive array of features and groundbreaking concept of feature recognition, it has gained a reputation in the industry. The software offers a multi-module solution for shop floor programming, utilizing a process knowledge base that includes a material library, tool library, and process card programming mode. FeatureCAM supports various machining processes, including 2-5 axis milling, mill-turn machining, surface machining, and wire-cut machining.
Catia is a product developed by Dassault, a French company, and it has been extensively used in the development and design of various aerospace projects, including the French Mirage series of fighter jets and Boeing 737 and 777 aircraft.
It has gained prominence in complex surface design and is considered a trendsetter in this field. It has even started replacing U.G. (Unigraphics) in terms of complex surface design. In China, it has become common for designers and programmers to utilize Catia for design and modeling tasks, followed by a collaboration with U.G. for programming and machining operations to successfully execute projects.
VERICUT is a CNC machining simulation software developed by CGTech, a company based in the United States. It employs advanced three-dimensional display and virtual reality technology to accurately replicate the CNC machining process, including the factory environment. The software’s verification capabilities have proven to be highly effective in reducing the occurrence of processing accidents. Many prominent Chinese enterprises have adopted VERICUT and achieved remarkable outcomes regarding process safety and efficiency.
CAXA is CAM software that is developed in China. It is specifically designed for two to five-axis CNC milling machines and machining centers. CAXA offers good process performance at a reasonable price, making it a popular choice in the Chinese CAM market. As a notable brand representing China’s independent research and development in manufacturing information technology, CAXA has become a leading supplier of CNC programming. Its popularity and wide adoption by professionals in the industry further solidify its position in the market.
In conclusion, the Chinese CNC machining industry relies on a variety of software solutions to optimize its manufacturing processes. Each software package offers unique advantages and caters to specific requirements in the field of CNC programming and machining.
Please pay attention that while certain software excels in specific areas, there may be limitations or areas for improvement in others. Nevertheless, the continuous advancements in CAD/CAM technology persistently tackle these limitations and push the limits of what can be achieved in CNC machining.
As the Chinese manufacturing industry continues to thrive and innovate, adopting advanced CNC software is crucial in enhancing productivity, improving quality, and reducing costs. By leveraging the capabilities of these software programs, manufacturers can unlock new levels of efficiency and competitiveness, ultimately driving the growth of the industry as a whole.