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The Results are in on the CAM Package Survey

Dec 17, 2010   //   by   //   Beginner, Blog, Software  //  15 Comments

Wow! We had a lot of folks participate in the CAM package survey. Thanks very much for your time!

And now it’s time for the results.

We’re dealing with two radically different groups here. It’s not really fair to compare an under $1000 CAM package against a full-featured package costing many thousands of dollars and up. At the very least it would give a pretty distorted picture of the relative appeal of these packages in the overall market. So I’ve divided the results into two camps based on the price of the package. This is not to say that the “Hobby” category is populated entirely by hobbyists. I have no way of knowing how you’re using your CAM package, and I do know for a fact that some of the less expensive packages can be frequently used for professional operations. Vectric’s V-Carve comes to mind as a great example of a specialized CAM package that is very reasonably priced and so is used by hobbyists and pros alike.

Here are the results for the “Pro” category:

Professional Grade CAM Package Market Share

I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised to see Mastercam has the largest share, but I was surprised at the rest of the shares. The next three, OneCNC (the package I use), SolidCam, and GibbsCam are fighting it out for what I view as the “easier to use” segment. Each one has some great ease of use features and has a reputation for being easier to use than the market leader. SolidCam, for example, runs right out of SolidWorks, and that has been a great strategy for them. I’m a little surprised at how far behind OneCNC and SolidCam we find Gibbscam. Seems like I hear a lot about them in various forums, but they didn’t show correspondingly in the survey. Each of these next tier entries also offers tremendous power, though there are higher-end packages that have even more functionality but don’t rate as high.

UGS NX looks like a great product, so I’m not surprised they’re up there. I guess I’m a little surprised Surfcam isn’t doing better too, but by now quite a few packages are getting HSM toolpaths, which was their big claim to fame. Things get pretty messy after that, and there’s not much to conclude except that the market is very fragmented.

In most software categories, the combination of #1, #2, and #3 have 90% of the market share. Here the Big 3 have a lot of share, but not 90%. I would speculate that a number of these packages have some very special and unique strengths and that a CAM buyer would be well advised to carefully consider how the package matches their needs and use. One size does not fit all!

Moving to the “Hobby” category (which again does not imply the users are hobbyists, but I couldn’t come up with a better word) we have:

Hobby CAM Package Market Share

Interestingly, the Big 3 on the Pro list had 58% and the Big 3 on the Hobby list have 60%–pretty close! Note that Visual Mill includes all of the flavors MechSoft sells–Visual Mill, RhinoCAM, and Alibre CAM. Just as integrating with a CAD package ala SolidCam made sense in the Pro market, integrating with CAD makes sense here too, although in fairness, most of the Visual Mill users use the pure Visual Mill app. Still, the extra versions are what put Visual Mill at the top of the list. SprutCam obviously has quite a following, and seems to be a very full-featured package for this end of the market. Tormach is one of their dealers and I know they’re good people to work with. In third place we have BobCAD, a package that’s been around forever that people seem to have a love/hate relationship with.

So there you have it. It’s been an interesting survey, with well over 100 responses (closer to 200 actually). That seems like a statistically significant number, so this should give a good reflection of the relative popularity of these packages. To give another interesting note, the relative mix of “Pro” to “Hobby” responses was 60% “Pro” and 40% “Hobby”.

Thanks again, everyone, for your participation!

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