Can SolidWorks Be Used for CNC?

Can SolidWorks Be Used for CNC?

SolidWorks is a powerful computer-aided design (CAD) software widely used in the engineering and manufacturing industries. It allows users to create 3D models and assemblies with precision and efficiency.

But can SolidWorks be used for computer numerical control (CNC) machining? Let’s find out.

Understanding CNC Machining

CNC machining is a manufacturing process that utilizes pre-programmed computer software to control the movement of tools and machinery. It involves subtractive manufacturing, where material is removed from a workpiece to create the desired shape or design.

CNC machines are commonly used in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, and medical.

The Role of CAD Software in CNC Machining

CAD software plays a crucial role in CNC machining by providing the necessary tools to design complex parts and generate machine-readable files. These files, often in formats such as STEP or IGES, contain all the information needed for the CNC machine to produce the part accurately.

SolidWorks is well-suited for CNC machining due to its robust modeling capabilities and integrated CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) features. It allows users to not only design intricate parts but also generate toolpaths directly within the software.

Designing Parts for CNC Machining with SolidWorks

SolidWorks provides a wide range of powerful tools for designing parts that are suitable for CNC machining. Key features include:

  • Parametric Modeling: With parametric modeling, users can create 3D models with dimensions and constraints that update automatically when changes are made.
  • Assembly Design: SolidWorks enables users to create assemblies by combining multiple parts, ensuring proper fit and functionality before manufacturing.
  • Advanced Surfacing: The software allows for the creation of complex surface geometries necessary for CNC machining intricate designs.

Generating Toolpaths with SolidWorks CAM

SolidWorks CAM, a module integrated within SolidWorks, offers powerful tools for generating toolpaths directly from the CAD model. This eliminates the need for third-party CAM software and streamlines the design-to-manufacturing process.

Some of the key features of SolidWorks CAM include:

  • 2.5D Machining: SolidWorks CAM supports 2.5D machining operations such as facing, pocketing, drilling, and contouring.
  • 3D Machining: Users can perform advanced 3D machining operations like roughing, finishing, and rest milling to achieve complex part geometries.
  • Simulation and Verification: SolidWorks CAM provides simulation capabilities to verify toolpaths and detect potential collisions or errors before initiating the machining process.

The Benefits of Using SolidWorks for CNC Machining

Using SolidWorks for CNC machining offers several advantages:

  • Ease of Use: SolidWorks has an intuitive user interface that makes it accessible to both beginners and experienced CAD users.
  • Tight Integration: The integration between CAD modeling and CAM programming within a single software reduces workflow complexity and improves efficiency.
  • Time Savings: By eliminating the need to export files to separate CAM software, designers can save valuable time during the design-to-manufacturing process.
  • Better Collaboration: Since SolidWorks is widely used in the industry, sharing files and collaborating with other team members becomes seamless.


In conclusion, SolidWorks can indeed be used for CNC machining. Its comprehensive design capabilities and integrated CAM features make it a suitable choice for creating parts that can be manufactured using CNC machines.

Whether you are designing simple or complex parts, SolidWorks provides the necessary tools to streamline the design-to-manufacturing process and achieve accurate results.