CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) post-processing refers to the process of converting CAM system toolpath data into machine-specific CNC (Computer Numerical Control) code that can be used to control a specific CNC machine.
A CAM post-processor is a software program that performs this conversion process. It takes the toolpath data generated by the CAM software and translates it into a format that is specific to the CNC machine being used. This format includes machine-specific G-codes, M-codes, and other commands that control the movement and operation of the machine.
A CAM post-processor can be customized to match the unique requirements of a particular CNC machine or machining process. This customization is important because different machines may have different hardware configurations, control systems, and programming languages. By tailoring the post-processor to the specific machine, users can ensure that the resulting CNC code will be optimized for that machine’s capabilities and produce high-quality parts.
In summary, a CAM post-processor is a software program that takes CAM toolpath data and converts it into machine-specific CNC code, allowing users to produce high-quality parts on a specific CNC machine.
When Would I Need to Use a Post Processor?
Any type of machining that requires the use of a CAM software also requires the use of a post processor. When machining parts with complex shapes or limited flat surfaces, using a CAM software with a post processor is always the best option. Manually figuring out where each point you need to enter is located is not realistic for these complex parts – it would take an excessive amount of time for even the most skilled programmers, and there is always room for human error. A well-written post is going to save you time and money and improve the quality of your production.
What Makes a Good Post Processor?
Posting G-code is normally completed with a quick button click within the CAM software, and the magic happens behind the scenes. The key metric to a great post processor is one that does not require any code edits. Tweaking or manipulating the code after posting can cause not only issues with the machining of the part, but also safety concerns due to human errors.
OEMs (original equipment manufacturer), working directly with the CAM providers to validate the post processors are outputting good code. The QC and certification processes are rather intense between the CAM provider and OEM – as quality output for the end user is always a defined goal.
What Happens if There’s a Problem With My Post?
When an issue occurs with machining a part, it is very important to troubleshoot your machine tool as well as the software output of the post processor with your CAM vendor. In more complex situations, a collaborative effort is necessary between the machine tool manufacturer, their distributor, and the CAM software provider to correct the issue.
There’s a level of trust that the post processor will complete the task as intended – however, many shops choose to also simulate the G-code output using another software system (3D Virtual Monitoring) , before moving to the machine tool itself. If an error should occur, this allows for a correction at the CAM level – ultimately saving time, material cost, and potential machine collisions.