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7/20/2011

Custom NX CAM Configuration Files 

Click here to see a video for this article.

In this installment of NX A to Z, I will explain how to create custom CAM configuration files. Custom CAM configuration files are the first step to customizing NX CAM for your shop and how you like to make parts.

UGII_CAM_CUSTOM_DIR

As always, the first place to start when doing any customizations with NX is the environment variables file. Click here to read the NX A to Z article on the environment variables file. By design, you only need to change one environment variable to customize your CAM environment UGII-_CAM_CUSTOM_DIR. So, create a directory on your network and then set UGII_CAM_CUSTOM_DIR to point to that directory. My variables file is shown below.





The next screenshot is the directory itself.





This directory is structured the same as the NX CAM resource directory, which is shown below. As you can see, it is not a direct copy, but the directories that are in both locations match. The configuration files are one exception, in the NX CAM resource directory, they are in the configuration directory; however custom CAM configuration files must be in the root of your CAM custom directory as shown above.





 

CAM Configuration Files

The screenshot below shows custom CAM configuration file, mill.dat.





Basically, the cam configuration files just tell NX CAM where to find all the other files for each configuration. The settings that make up a CAM configuration are:

  • The template set. These are NX part files that make up the options in the pull down menus when creating objects like tools and operations in NX CAM – mill_planar, mill_contour, etc. These are NX CAM template parts.
  • The shop documentation templates.
  • The postprocessors. The config file sets the postprocessors that are available in the list when you prostprocess. You can always browse to find any postprocessor.
  • User defined events
  • CLSF templates
  • All of the libraries
  • NX CAM Wizards

Essentially, the NX CAM configuration file allows you to set all of the things that could change from one shop to another, one manufacturing cell to another or even one machine to another, depending on how much you want to fine-tune your NX CAM environment.

More often than not, when you are first starting to customize your CAM environment, you are not going to be changing all of the settings in your CAM configuration file. The most common changes are the template sets and the postprocessor list. Any of the settings that you won’t be changing, you want to keep set to the default value. The easiest way to do this (and the recommended way) is to just copy one of the CAM configuration files that comes with NX and only change what you want. The configuration files that come with NX are in C:\Program Files\UGS\NX 7.5\MACH\resource\configuration as shown below





The cam_general.dat configuration file is the most generic configuration file and probably the best one to use as the starting point for your custom configuration file. So, copy cam_general.dat to your CAM custom directory and rename it mill.dat or whatever name you want.

If you look again at my custom configuration file, the only settings that are changed are the template set (TEMPLATE_OPERATION), the user defined events (USER_DEFINED_EVENTS) and the postprocessor list (TEMPLATE_POST). As you can see, ALL of these settings are pointing to files in my CAM custom directory. The template set is called cam_general.opt and is in the template_set directory, the postprocessor list is called template_post.dat and is in the postprocessor directory and the user defined events files are called ude.cdl and ude.tcl and are in the user_def_event directory. Remember, the structure of the CAM custom directory is the same as the NX CAM Resource directory minus the folders for stuff that you aren’t customizing. In general, the process for customizing NX CAM involves copying the default files and folders and only changing what you want.





That’s it for creating a custom CAM configuration file. Obviously, the next step is to customize the cam_general.opt file and the template_post.dat file and then create your postprocessors and your custom CAM templates, so look for future articles on how to do all of these things.

Dave Holland