CamBam Software Review [2022]: 2.5D CAM

CamBam Software Review [2022]: 2.5D CAM

CamBam Software Review [2022]: 2.5D CAM

CamBam is a feature-rich CAM software solution that's popular among home machinists and professionals.

It offers extensive CAM capabilities for 2D and 2.5D machining combined with an affordable perpetual licensing system.

This guide will walk you through every aspect of CamBam software like user interface, cost, features, compatibility, and many more.

CamBam Software Review

If you have some experience in machining and want complete freedom to set each CAM parameter manually, then CamBam can be an excellent choice.

In the next sections, I'll evaluate and review CamBam software on several parameters.

User Interface

User interface of CamBam
User interface of CamBam

CamBam software has a user-friendly interface with a minimalistic design and well-labeled buttons that allow you to navigate with ease. 

The main window of the interface consists of basic features like error/warning messages, object properties, commonly used routines, and operations.

It consists of a drawing tab on the left-hand side of the interface that displays all the individual objects of the current drawing in the format of a tree layout.

CamBam Drawing tree
Drawing tab with all the individual design elements represented in tree layout.

The tree layout of the drawing comes in handy when dealing with complex designs as it allows you to access and make changes to the parameters of individual objects of the design.

A toolbar displaying all the available machining operations is available in the upper right corner of the software window.

All parameters related to the selected machining operation are defined in the property panel just below the drawing tab.

The property panel allows you to control the parameters of the selected machining process.

Machining parameters
Property panel with all the machining parameters

CamBam offers various keyboard shortcuts that allow you to work faster and more efficiently, thereby saving your time by improving productivity.

Currently, the software is only available in English.

Operating System

CamBam works only with Windows OS and is not available for Mac and Linux-based systems as of now.

When installing the CamBam software on the Windows OS, it might prompt for an additional installation of the .NET framework.

However, most of the new version of Windows comes with the .NET framework pre-installed, and you can also download it from the Microsoft website for free.

CamBam has been tested on almost all the versions of Windows OS, but different builds of CamBam require different versions of the .NET framework.

The latest build, CamBam 1.0, requires .NET framework 4.0 or higher to be installed on your computer, whereas CamBam 0.9.8P is an older build that works with older versions of the .NET framework.

Additional Features

CamBam is a full-fledged CAM software designed for hobbyists and business owners.

Apart from its feature-rich CAM functionality, CamBam also provides various other features that add to its functionality.

Added CAD Functionality

Generally, we prepare a design using CAD software and then convert the file into G-code using CAM software.

The added CAD functionality of CamBam allows you to create simple designs using basic tools like arcs, lines, and circles, without the need for separate CAD software.

This feature generally comes in handy for preparing the design of simple functions like drilling holes or cutting a big sheet of material into manageable pieces. 

CAD functionality in CamBam
CAD functionality in CamBam

Post-Trial Period

CamBam software offers a free trial of 40 sessions that enables you to access almost all the features of the software and evaluate its functionality.

After completing the trial period, you can either purchase the license for the software or continue with the free version.

The free version of CamBam provides limited access to some of the basic tools and features.

However, this limited access service of CamBam is a better alternative to other free-to-use CAM software as it provides comparatively better toolpaths.

Optimized Toolpaths

Toolpaths in a CamBam software
Toolpaths in a CamBam software

The regular updates provided by CamBam remove the bugs and modify the features based on user feedback to improve the functionality of the software.

This constant feedback-based improvement enables CamBam to generate efficient toolpaths that need no or minimal changes.

Furthermore, when applying transformations to the design (such as move, rotate, or resize), CamBam will automatically update the toolpaths accordingly.

4th Axis Wrapping Support

CamBam provides an additional "rotary wrap" feature that transforms linear toolpaths into rotary toolpaths.

This feature saves time by eliminating the need to design the rotary toolpaths from scratch.

It enables the user to modify a pre-existing design and wraps it around an axis.

The rotary wrap feature can be beneficial when using a 4th axis compatible machine to work on cylindrical workpieces.

4th axis wrapping
Rotary wrap feature converting linear text into rotary layout

Plugin support

The plugin is an extra piece of software developed and updated independently of the main application, which enhances the capability of the program.

You can extend CamBam’s machining capability by using various official or user-written plugins.

These plugins enhance the functionality of the software by adding new tools to it.

For example, the lathe machine plugin enables CamBam to create toolpaths for machining the jobs on a lathe machine.

However, plugins are supported only in the licensed version of CamBam or during the 40-session trial period.

Plugin for using CamBam for lathe machine
Plugin for using CamBam for lathe machine

Compatibility

CamBam is compatible with design files exported by most popular designing (CAD) software programs.

It can process 2D, 2.5D, and 3D design files of various formats like DFX, jpg, STL, 3DS, RAW, etc.

Furthermore, after importing the file, it also provides the ability to rotate, reposition, and scale the design in the workplace.

Although CamBam can process 3D design files, it provides greater control over 2D and 2.5D processes and is therefore mostly recommended for 2D and 2.5D designs.

Documentation

CamBam provides an online user manual on their website that gives an overview of all the features available in the software.

The manual is well structured and comes with all the required setup details along with the tutorials required to get started.

Additionally, CamBam provides tutorial videos that facilitate learning the basic usage of the software.

The documentation also lists all the keyboard shortcuts that you can use in CamBam.

Overall, the documentation provided for CamBam is very illustrative and easy to understand, even for a beginner with little to no experience with CAM software.

Learning Curve

CamBam is not a plug-and-play type software and requires you to set several key parameters manually.

Setting these parameters manually requires prior experience and good knowledge of CNC machining processes.

This makes CamBam an excellent choice for experienced machinists, but the learning curve for beginners can be a bit steep.

However, the documentation provided with the software helps tremendously, but you have to tinker with it for a while before you can master it.

Community

CamBam has a dedicated forum where you can get your questions answered.

The user base of CamBam software is diverse, containing both businesses and hobbyists.

Customer Support

CamBam provides online customer support where you need to fill out a form on their website to report an issue or provide any feedback to them.

CamBam has a dedicated support tab on its website where it collectively addresses all the generally occurring issues faced by its customers in the forum.

Cost

CamBam is a paid software, and you can get its single license for around $150.

It is a perpetual license that requires a one-time payment for a lifetime of service and updates. 

The 40 sessions of free trial lets you explore the features and functionality of the software before you decide whether to purchase it.

After completing the trial period, you can continue using the free version of CamBam albeit with limitations.

The free version is limited to producing G-codes up to 1000 lines, which may be sufficient for small projects.

Final Thoughts

CamBam is an affordable CAM software that provides a user-friendly interface and excellent functionality.

Its detailed documentation, huge user base, and dedicated forum ensure easy operation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Will CamBam run on Windows 10?

CamBam runs on Windows 10. However, you will need to install the recommended .NET framework for it.

Can you create 3D designs in CamBam?

No, you cannot create 3D designs in CamBam. But it can process 3D designs exported by most of the popular CAD software and convert them into G-code. It offers an added CAD functionality that can be used for preparing the design of simple functions like drilling holes or basic cuts with simple geometry. However, it is recommended to use a full-fledged CAD software like Fusion 360, SolidWorks, etc., for preparing 3D designs.

What is scripting in CamBam software?

Scripting, in a way, is similar to the plugins feature of CamBam as it enhances the functionality of the software.
It uses programming codes like VBScript/JScript to automate a process. Various user-written scripts are available that perform a particular pre-defined operation and thereby eliminate the need to perform repetitive actions.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNCs and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNCs and writing about CNCs for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNCs. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNCs and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNCs and writing about CNCs for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNCs. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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