Vector cad-cam is a powerful, MS-windows based drawing and CNC programming system. It runs on PC based platforms ranging from Win 98 to Win XP. The Cad drawing is easy to learn and use, and fully windows compliant. Vector is a full time 2D and 3D surface modeling Cad drawing system, and can import and export dxf, iges, stl, and 3dm files from other drawing systems.
The Cam is user friendly, and adaptable to many different controllers. The standard Vector includes capability for turning, milling, 4 axis wire EDM, and table based machines, such as routers, plasma, laser, and waterjet cutting. There is a 4th axis option for programming rotary tables on mills and live tooling on a lathe, and a 3D surface milling option for creating sculpted surfacing toolpaths. IMService is the North American distributor for Vector Cad-Cam. Please visit the IMService web site at http://www.imsrv.com to see our other products related to CNC software and desktop CNC machines.
We invite those interested in the Vector Cad-Cam software to try the free, 30 day demo. It is a full working version and can be used to draw, create toolpaths and cutting strategies, and to post out G-code for use on your CNC machines.
Vector Cad-Cam Demo Request
CAD and Design
Based in Windows since first released in 1992, Vector plays extremely well with other Windows programs, including Microsoft Office applications, such as Word and Excel. With the built in OLE capability, Vector drawings can be displayed in Word and Excel documents, and easily directed to a printer, e-mail or a fax. Likewise copy-paste or insert most Windows documents directly into a Vector drawing. This is an excellent way to include a Bill of Material or parts list in a drawing. MS Word Art can be placed directly into Vector drawings from the Windows clipboard and the contours can be used for CNC cutting. Since it is Windows compliant, multiple Vector documents and multiple viewing windows are a breeze to use. Entities and objects can be dragged and dropped from one drawing to another.
All Vector modeling and drawing can be done while in wireframe or rendered mode. This is accomplished within a single drawing window. Vector also supports multiple drawing and view windows, any of which can be displayed in wireframe or rendered modes and each of which is automatically updated when the basic drawing is changed.
Basic 2d and 3d cad wire frame capabilities include:
Lines, points and arcs can all be drawn using 3d and 3D coordinate drawing methods. Points may be drawn using any of 8 different methods. Lines can be drawn by sketching with automatic alignment to the X or the Y axis or at an angle. There are an additional 8 line drawing methods. Arcs can be drawn in bolt circle, nested and grid patterns. Vector has intelligent chamfering and filleting operations, including removal of old fillets when the new is added. Multiple circles can be drawn by snapping the centers onto selected entities. Arcs can be fitted to cubic splines to reduce the complexity of contours. 3D curve functions can also be used to interpolate point collections into complex nurbs curves, including best fit lines and arcs.
Complex entities can be created directly using functions for
teardrop shaped Approach and departs,
ellipses with nurbs, splines, and arc approximations.
Offsets and offsets in X only
3D cylinder wrap
The editing and modification functions allow intelligent open or closed chain trim+extend operations. There are functions for Z connections of multiple entities, Cut above Z, wireframe project curve onto axial surface. Vector supports configurable undo and repeat of the last function. All dialogs have persistent values, once used with logical preset defaults.
Vector supports dimensioning of 3D locations, with pre and post scripts, inch-metric conversion when drawing units are changed, Dimensioning styles include horizontal, vertical, aligned, angular, radial and diametral, X and Y ordinate dimensions and leaders. All dimensions can have the actual or a specified value, the number of decimals and trailing zeros can be specified, and +/- tolerancing is supported.
Entity parameters can be passed from one entity to another using a simple pick and drop function. Entity attributes can be viewed and modified, including all positioning and size parameters, layers, colors, line styles, line size, text height and angle. Cad text and Tru-type text can be used. Vector purchase includes 2 Single stroke style Tru-Type fonts for engraving.
The selection and modification functions are outstanding with selection using any of a number of attributes, including entity type, color, layer name, line style, line width, and arc size and angle, rectangular pick zone, and pick and match. Vector uses Cut-Copy and Paste the same as windows applications, except that the paste dialog has provisions for precise translation, rotation, scaling, mirroring, and multiple copies or snapping. The Vector coordinate axis is portable and can be moved and rotated. The axis legs can be rubberbanded and the axis snapped to the position of any valid Vector snap points.
Vector supports import and export of iges, dxf, stl, 3dm, text, plc, point cloud triplet file formats, and can print part of all of a drawing in color or black and white, using drawing scale, view scale, or print to fit.
Other CAD functions include hatching, polygon fill, and an axis drawing entity that is used for remembering the position and orientation of the coordinate axis for reuse at a later time. The axis entity is also used for marking the part zero of a CNC program. Vector is a full time 3D program and supports 3D viewing, dynamic view rotation, keyed zoom and pan, and view-all and zoom to . There are a variety of hot keys available to shorten the drawing process outside the menus and dockable toolbars. The user has control over background and various entity colors, and snap point display. Vector has a Spaceball/Spacemouse interface and has mouse wheel functionality.
Finish contours are compensated for tool radius in the software, or can be compensated at the machine using Tool nose radius compensation. Rough Contours can be processed horizontally or vertically. All turning can be processed as inside diameter or outside diameters, with tool post behind or in front of the part centerline. Vector creates arcs when offsetting contours for roughing, this create short and efficient programs for machines which do not support automatic roughing and finishing cycles. Vector can also create toolpaths for parts that have a large diameter in front followed by a smaller diameter behind. Note that after the horizontal passes that Vector follows the contour back to the previous pass. This assures that the part is close to the finish shape after roughing, thus eliminating a semi-finish passes for removal of the roughing steps.
Groove contours can be roughed and/or finished using a grooving tool with defined angles and radius on left and right sides of the groover. Roughing cuts can be made horizontally or vertically with respect to the part. Face grooves can also be programmed.
Right hand-Left hand cleanout. Automatic tool gouge avoidance as the right hand tool cuts the profile to size. Then the left hand tool is used to remove only the remaining material.
Undercuts for shoulder grinding and threading. The Vector 3D surface modeling functions permit easy extraction of 2D lathe contours from 3D surfaces.
Lathe toolpaths can be created using predefined tool tables and saved as entries in the job table. The tool shapes can be simulated to show the cut path.
See the tutorial for an example part: Lathe Tutorial
Milling functions include slab milling, drilling, contouring with or without offset, pocketing with zigzag and contour parallel motion, multiple Z-depth pocketing, and swept curve pocketing. The pocketing includes both roughing and finish passes, and permits definition of start point location and ramping and helical descent to depth, and multiple included islands. Milling functions use pre-defined tool libraries with on-the-fly tool definition and selection. Multiple operations can be created and then simulated. The simulation is a 3D rendered animation that shows the tool size and shape and the tool motion as the material is removed from a cubic shape. Tools can be drills, flat, bull, ball, and tapered end mills. Cutter compensation can be built into the Vector process either using tool radius offsets in the Cad-Cam process, or if desired the cutter compensation can be processed in the machine controller using G41-G42 style code. Vector can verify and modify machined contours to insure that internal corners have a radius greater than the cutter size to prevent cutter comp errors at the controller.
Drilling functions can output from points or arcs, and can use a variety of canned cycles with user selection of drill size, depth, peck and cycle type. Most standard drill cycles are available. Vector can also create drill toolpaths from connect at Z style contours providing drilling of multiple depths from the same tool callout. A traveling salesman optimization routine assures that drill patterns take the shortest distance when rapiding from hole to hole.
Milling 2d, drilling, and milling 3d toolpaths are easily combined in the same job process list.
The entire multi-tool/step job can be processed and checked, then the entire G-code program can be created all at once. The program is generated into the Vector NC editor/rs-232 communications control. Once Vector is setup to match the users programming preferences, no editing of the post-processed code will be required. Vector includes postprocessors for many variants of RS-274D G-code, as well as direct support for Heidenhain control language. The output can be scaled in one or all axes and Inch drawings can be posted directly into metric units and vice versa. The Vector NC editor has color coding to highlight g-code syntax.
See the mill and jobs tutorials for examples of the process: Mill Tutorial Jobs Tutorial
3D Surface Machining
Smooth contoured surfaces can be created from surface models. The dxf, iges, stl, and 3dm file formats are used to accurately import complex 3D models from hi-end modeling and design programs. Vector can rough stock using large efficient cutters with either contour parallel or zigzag strategies. These are the same methods used in 2 axis pocketing and have been extended to provide efficient roughing methods over a 3D surfaced volume. After roughing, the surface is finished using one or more of the seven finishing strategies. The 3D surface machining strategies permit contour restriction boundaries to contain cutting areas, defaulting to a rectangular patch at the selection extents when no controlling boundary contour is specified. The restriction boundaries can include "holes", similar to the islands in a pocket. The surface area inside the "holes" is ignored when toolpaths are created. Level to level ramping is used in the roughing methods. 3D surface compensation is provided for flat, ball and bull nosed end mills. The tool index can be center of tip radius or end of tool.
The finishing strategies are:
X-parallel (axis parallel)
Between 2 guide curves
Constant Z level cutting
Most of these strategies provide inside, outside, or on the boundary location control, climb or conventional milling directions, and some provide center out or outside in cutting directions.
See the 3D Milling tutorial for a brief introduction to 3D surface machining. 3D milling Tutorial
This is a sample JobList from the drawing shown above under 2D milling. The operations listed can be re-ordered, activated or deactivated and the entire job can be simulated to test the process before committing to material on the CNC machine.
If there are changes made to the JobList, all or part of the NC program may be regenerated as needed.
The tool library has a list of predefined tools for use with the planned jobs. Libraries can be customized and saved for re-use. Existing libraries can be merged and selected tools can be imported for use with the current job. Tools can be modified or defined as needed when toolpaths are created for various operations.
Once the CNC processes for a job are defined and saved to the job list, a stock box can be defined that is used as the basis for a CNC simulation of the entire part. the simulation is an animated process that shows the defined tool for each step in the process as it moves through the defined tool path. The tool removes material from the Job stock box as it proceeds through the various operations. When a different tool is required, the simulation changes to the size and shape of the pre-defined tool for that operation.
The image at the left shows the completed simulation of the previously shown mill job. Note the 60 degree V-groove tool used for the lettering, the 1/4 inch drilled holes, the 45 degree chamfer around the top of the outer contour and the easy mixture of 2 1/2 axis processes such as drilling, engraving, and contour milling with the 3D surfacing toolpath simulation. The simulation has a control similar to a DVD player with single step, reset, pause, fast forward, etc to aid in using the simulation to visualize the order of operations and the effectiveness of the process plan.
3D Surface Modeling
Nurbs curve based surface and curve modeler. Interpolate points to curves, higher order curves, least square curve approximation and nearest fit arcs. Project curves to defined planes with offsets. Hermite blended curve constructions. Convert curves to arcs, tangential extensions, nurbs ellipse, project curve onto surface. Draw Sphere and Torus.
Construct surfaces using ruled, revolved, skinned, coons 4 and 3 edge, net interpolation, swept, swung, drive curve, birail, interpolate point array and interpolate random points into nurb surface. Surface blend. Planar surface from chain, surface to surface intersection, curve to surface intersection, extract surface edges, trim, untrim, and remove holes from surfaces and create Z sections. Shaded rendered surfaces, displayed within main Vector drawing window and can be accessed as wireframe or rendered image
2 axis and 4 axis wire edm. X-Y-U-V standard programming for 4 axis. Vector can program guides or geometry to create the program to match machine requirements. Absolute or incremental UV. Tool tipping process to create rotated relief on positive rake, lathe form tools. Post processor for 2 and 4 axis AGIE included at no extra cost.
Approach and depart using defined start hole and end locations. Teardrop approach and depart can be specified with overlap to assure part cleanup. Glue stop can be positioned a specified distance along the contour.
4 axis wire edm code can be back plotted to check for wire twist and part distortion.
2+4 axis wire edm code can be used for complex form, hot wire foam cutting.
3D rotary WYSIWIG drawing. 3D drawn toolpaths are directly generated into X-Z-A rotary code. MTB Pro included with routines to create 3D toolpaths from
Table Machines Routing, Plasma, Flame, WaterJet, Laser
RasterFratz is an inexpensive add-on accessory program that traces around solid colors within an image or raster file. It is very simple to use and creates DXF or plc outlines that can be used in Vector for decorative designs and reverse engineering tasks.
For More info on RasterFratz: Follow this link.
IMService provides a programmed interface for Vector. This consists of an application called Macro Tool Bar (MTB). With Macro Tool Bar, the Vector user can create automated sequences of keystrokes that can be repeated with the click of a button. This application is free with Vector Cam purchase. There is also a Macro Tool Bar Pro ( MTB Pro) which is available at a nominal cost. This application increases the number of program steps from 1000 to unlimited and adds capability for looping and subroutines, and complex high speed mathematical computations.
Macro Tool Bar and Macro Tool Bar Pro: Info Link MTB MTB-Pro
Discounts are available for purchase of Vector Cad-Cam by students, educational organizations, and private individuals for educational and hobby/home use. Please contact our office for more information on these programs.
IMService contact info: Sales: 888-451-1670 Voice: 248-486-3600 Fax: 248-486-3698
Mail: IMService, P.O. Box 142, New Hudson, MI 48165
This page last updated October 27, 2006.
Copyright IMService 1996-2006, All rights reserved.
Vector is a trademark of Centriforce.
Machining, Cad-Cam programming, and similar tools, which we feel are some of the best values available today, are presented on these pages. You will also find product descriptions of Vector from Centriforce, an IGES to DXF conversion program, an IGES file viewer, an estimating program, discussions of low cost cnc and cad cam systems, a very reasonably priced CNC programming, training course and training videos, ALT.CAD.VECTOR, area with Vector secrets, hints, a user forum and FAQ's, even a cut rate web site hosting service. Browse and enjoy. :-) If you have suggestions, or would like more info, please e-mail us. Come back often, as this site will be growing each week. Don't forget to look under &More for Lathe Quick Code, Machinist Calculators and Raster to Vector Software. Vector also includes special drivers for MicroKinetics, Flashcut, Ahha, EMC, MaxNC, Taig & Sherline CNC mills and lathes.