CAM Glossary

CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing. CAM software is used to develop programs for a variety of CNC machines such as milling and turning machines, for example, or machines for cutting edge machining or additive manufacturing. Here are some general principles of CAM.


CAMWorks Glossary Gif-2.5 Axis Milling

2.5 Axis Milling

Basic milling operations, where the tool does not move vertically while moving along the other axes. Ideal for drilling, pockets, and prismatic features.

3 Axis Milling

Advanced milling operations such as surfacing, where the tool is free to move in any ordinate direction simultaneously. Ideal for surfacing and detailing.

CAMWorks Glossary Gif-3-Axis Milling
Multi-axis EDM Programming

4th / 5th Axis Pre-Positioning

Moves the part using 4th and/or 5th axis movements before cutting operations. Once the part is stationary, 2.5 axis operations are performed. Ideal for horizontal mills.

4th Axis Wrapped / Rotary Milling

Cutting with the 4th axis moving on features equidistant from the axis centerline. Great for cylindrical features and mill-turn operations.

CAMWorks Glossary Gif-4-Axis-Wrapped
CAMWorks Glossary Gif-4-Axis Milling

4th Axis Milling

Cutting with the 4th axis moving on features that are not equidistant from the axis centerline, so the tool moves vertically as well. Ideal for off-center and camshaft operations.

5 Axis Milling

Moving the part in multiple rotational axes while also moving the tool in any or all the ordinate directions. Ideal for complex, intricate operations, or minimizing multiple setups.

CAMWorks Glossary Gif-5-Axis Milling
CAMWorks Glossary Gif-Volumill


High speed machining strategy that combines variable tool speed, consistent tool loading, and smoother direction changes to allow vastly faster feed rates while reducing tool wear.

Milling Operations in CAM Solutions

  • 2.5 Axis Milling
  • 3 Axis Milling
  • 4th & 5th Pre-positioning
  • 4th Axis Wrapped
  • 4th Axis
  • Volumill
  • Mill-turn


CAMWorks Glossary Gif-2-Axis-Turning

2 Axis Turning

For 2 axis CNC lathes using Feature Recognition for an efficient programming workflow. Can also drill / bore / tap features along the rotation centerline.


Advanced operations that allow for live tooling milling operations in addition to turned features. Can also perform off-axis and multi-axis operations, depending on machine capabilities.

CAMWorks Glossary Gif-Mill-Turn
CAMWorks Glossary Gif-Sub-Spindle


Allows a part to be transferred automatically between multiple spindles for hands-free multiple setup machining.

Synchronous Machining

Also called “Pinch Machining," Synchronous Machining allows 2 tool turrets to be operated at the same time for greatly reduced machining time. Can also be used in a mill-turn multi-turret environment.

CAMWorks Glossary Gif-Synchronous-Machining

Turning Operations in CAM Solutions

  • 2 Axis Turning
  • Sub-Spindle
  • Mill-Turn
  • Synchronous Machining

Additional Features

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CIMCO Editor

Entry-level G-code simulation to verify integrity directly from a program before it's run in the real world. Also allows for easy editing, comparison, and backplotting of existing programs from any other CAM systems.

Virtual Machine

True G-Code simulation on a virtual replica of the exact machine it will be run on, allowing easy error detection and correction before any real parts are made.

CAMWorks Glossary Gif-Virtual-Machine

G-Code Simulation Modules in CAM Solutions

  • CIMCO Editor
  • Virtual Machine