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Integration of 3th party CAM systems with ProE


Integration of 3th party CAM systems with ProE

Just read this in an interview with Jim Heppelmann :

“ ... I think some things are consolidating and some things are probably moving in the opposite direction; specialising. I actually don’t know if CAM is consolidating. I think there are more independent CAM vendors now than there were ten years ago and I think that’s because within CAM there are so many specialities that the products are becoming very sophisticated. If you bought one of the leading independent CAM products, they work with any CAD technology. The integration between CAM and CAD, even from different vendors, is good enough that it eats into the value proposition of buying it all from one vendor. ..."

Does anyone know about a decent integration between ProE Wildfire and a non-PTC CAM system?

TIA, Hugo.

ps.: the interview can be found here :

<< ProE WF3 - PDMLink 9.1 M050 >>


They use to have a integration with Hypermill, but Openmind dropped after WF3.

I'd love to have an option...

You can always use the Hokey Pokey method.

Import STEP in,
Export STEP out,
Try IGES instead,
Then you curse it up and down,
You do the Hokey-Pokey and you move your mouse around,
That's what it's all about.

Sorry I think it is Friday.

From: Santos, Daniel (GE Oil & Gas) [

We just had a small bake-off between Mastercam and Pro/NC (NOTE: we currently use Mastercam). The reason for our contest is that we have a division that needs to move off a legacy CAM software into something new and we wanted to look at all the options.
Mastercam has a tool that reads Pro/E files directly instead of translating to a neutral format first. From what I read on their user forums, it works most of the time very cleanly. But I'm ALWAYS a little weary when a translation of data has to occur (especially when it's not obvious to the user that one is actually occurring). Once imported/opened, it's a static block that you can now machine.
They also have a tool that is supposed to make models more geometrically associative. I saw this in action in a demo and was less than impressed. First, in order to update the model, it seemed that the new file must have the exact same file name and location as the original file (ex. mike.prt.34....yes...the .34 is important). I believe it works based on time stamp on the file so this is how it knows that the file on the hard drive is newer. It's a manual check though. You need to know that you want to update the model. Not a huge deal since the MFG engineer is notified of the change via CN ahead of time.
Secondly, it kind of works like compare model works in Pro/E. You overlay the two models. It wasn't clear how the software knew what to update (or how to locate the two models relative to each other). But I can tell you that even what I consider to be small changes in the model (ie. changing length/width) seemed to throw it off. So this tool (IMHO) was not great.
While Mastercam claims to be CAD neutral, they clearly have partnered more closely with SolidWorks. They claim to have an associative link to the CAD model in SolidWorks like Pro/E and Pro/NC have with each other. I cannot confirm or deny this.
What I can confirm is that Mastercam's CAD integration with Pro/E only eliminates the CAD translation to a neutral format step in the process. They do not have any support for associativity or....something we use a tables. So our MFG engineers export each instance as a separate part file and then machine them individually.
Unfortunately, where Mastercam seems to have Pro/NC beat is on usability. When the Pro/E design model changes, the vast majority of sequences in Mastercam need to be manually rerouted to the new "edges" of the new design model. But this is so ridiculously simple and easy that it takes fifteen minutes or less to update all of your tool paths. More time is wasted in the meeting to discuss the change than to implement it.
With Pro/NC, you can build in a lot more parent child relationships that make updates associative but it can also cause grief depending on the experience of the design engineer that built the Pro/E model. Updating and rerouting failed features in Pro/NC is just not as easy as it is in Mastercam. However, with Pro/NC, we have a lot more opportunity for design-through-manufacturing automation (specifically because of the associative connection) where we really have NO opportunity with Mastercam. But it requires a higher level of ability.
I think Heppelmann's comments are very general. There are a variety of scenarios to consider. If you are a design shop only and outsource all of your mfg, then it's tough to build in automation and your mfg partner can use whatever cam software they want (theoretically).
But our company designs and manufactures all within the same building. This gives us a distinct advantage in that we have the opportunity to tie design engineering and manufacturing engineering much closer together than the traditional "throw it over the wall" approach (which is also the "outsource" mentality). Our environment is rare in today's Heppelmann's comments are really not aimed at this environment.
Mike -

Best regards,

Daniel Santos

Follow me on Twitter:

This might be a little bit off the topic but does anyone know if ProNC is integrated with windchill in the same or a similarway that ProE is? Also is there a way to integrate mastercam with windchill? I'm having a little bit of a hard time finding information on this topic.

I have found that Esprit's FX addon works well at integrating with Pro E. I also had a chance to use Gibbs Cam with some Pro models that worked most of the time. There were tools for "healing" (thats the term they used) models with messed up geometry

Did you use them in windchill? I have done all my work outside of intralink
and as I understand they are about the same?


no windchill no intralink

This question has been around forever. We faced it when we went to Pro/E in 1995. PTC could make it a mute point by addressing some of the issues with Pro/NC. In 1994, we used separate CAD CAM systems and fought with the data translations. And I will admit that sometimes it was helpful that we were on separate systems.

The most valuable asset of using Pro/NC is the integration (IMHO). We have manufacturing engineers located in our product development groups and we do lots of iterations to a product before the release for production. We never have problems with reading, translation or knowing if we are working on the latest version. There are still people issues with this method. Just because people are located next to each other does not mean that they will communicate with each other.

One overlooked area is training. Using one CAD/CAM tool can reduce cost of training. A Pro/NC user is a Pro/E user with additional skills and can understand how the model was created and assist with the development of the model because they are using the same tool. To some extent this goes both ways our Pro/E designs can often assist with problems in Pro/NC.

That being said we do use some specialized CAM tools. Most of those are for sheetmetal processing such as laser sheetmetal cutting, turret press programming, press brake programming, We have found Pro/Sheetmetal NC is unusable. We use dxf and iges files to transfer the data to our sheetmetal apps. The sheetmetal applications are mostly 2D which you would think would be an easy translation. It works well for simple parts. However not all of our parts are simple. Most of the problems are in area of rips and bend reliefs. Usually most of the problems come from new designers who do not understand sheetmetal manufacturing methods. We do use some outside laser suppliers. It is a constant fight to keep them supplied with the latest version of the process geometry. We use mapkeys and other tools to develop export tools for third party CAM tools.

The worst CAM tools we have are the ones that we are stuck with by the equipment supplier. They never fix bugs, don’t keep the software working with the latest version of OS, support is non-existent, etc. As long as you have the equipment you are stuck with it. That can be for 20 years. I support some of these tools that are still running on DOS.

When we had separate CAD CAM systems I was always fighting for CAM money. The money for CAM came out of the capital equipment budget. Every year or so at the software update I had to fight for money to do the upgrade. Being on one system whenever the Pro/E gets an upgrade the manufacturing gets an upgrade. The improvements on the design side of Pro/E have helped on the manufacturing side.

To sum it up, If your manufacturing engineers are working closely with your designers then the integration that Pro/NC provides can be invaluable. If your manufacturing needs are not address in Pro/NC then other specialized CAM tools are a must. Do not rely on vendors that tell you they can read Pro/E data. Have them prove it to you in a blind live benchmark. In our benchmark we had an assembly that had to modeled and manufactured. Then we had the vendors make changes to the parts and to see how the changes affected all downstream deliverables. A blind live benchmark with all of the users represented can be a real eye opener to problems.

Speaking of MasterCAM, we had a supplier this week who could not use our geometry to create one of our parts on their turning center. The part has a spline that MasterCAM could not deal with in their turning center programming. The supplier even asked us to produce a program for them because MasterCAM would not import the geometry. We said no and are moving the part to another vendor. This really surprised me because it wasn’t that complex of a part. He said he could import it into the milling side of MasterCAM but not the turning side. I do not know what version of MasterCAM he is using.

Because we care

In Reply to Alfred Chastain:

This might be a little bit off the topic but does anyone know if ProNC is integrated with windchill in the same or a similarway that ProE is? Also is there a way to integrate mastercam with windchill? I'm having a little bit of a hard time finding information on this topic.

Hey Alfred,

This is not at all off topic, since data management between CAD and CAM is an important aspect of the integration of R&D and Manufacturing. And mostly, it's underestimated 😞

As an attempt to answer your question, Pro/NC is indeed integrated in Windchill/PDMLink. Our NC-programmers are working exactly the same way as the designers do (workspaces, check-out/check-in, etc.).

Regards, Hugo.

<< ProE WF3 - PDMLink9.1 >>

As of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 CL data and NC tape file are also managed with Windchill 10.0

For a more advanced example of Creo NC and Windchill 10 integration check my video on PlanetPTC Communities : | VP Product Management - Windchill Products Group | PTC
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