6 months by cncdivi

Every year, CNCCookbook surveys readers on their CAM Software. The results provide an invaluable guide to CAM for the CNC World.  This year we received nearly 300 responses.

Product Managers at a variety of CADCAM companies, large and small, tell me they find the results very valuable in their own planning. There’s no other source of information quite like these surveys, so I wanted to get these initial results out as soon as I could.

We’ve done these CAM surveys in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, and now 2023, so there is historical data to compare against when looking for trends. 

Let’s start by taking a look by category at market share.

Overall CAM Software Market Share

Here is the overall CAM Market Share

Overall CAM Market Share

The trends are interesting:

  • Fusion 360 continues to gain share and is the overall market leader.
  • Vectric/Aspire, Camworks, and Solidcam are also continuing to gain share.
  • Mastercam, BobCAD, and HSMWorks are all down on share.

So, the market continues to consolidate, but at this point, is still pretty highly fragmented.

Customer Satisfaction Awards

Which packages did customers love the most?  There’s a lot more detail in the eBook (see below), but here are the winners.

First place goes to Carbide Create:

Congratulations to the Carbide Create team!  Carbide Create is an excellent solution for beginners.  It’s a title little integrated CAD/CAM package that is quite powerful.  My friend Jaime (CNC With Jaime) does all of her sign carving with it.

The Silver Customer Satisfaction Award Winner this year is OneCNC:

Congratulations to the OneCNC team!

Customer Satisfaction Award Winners over the Years

We think the customer satisfaction awards are a big deal as they represent actual user’s evaluation of the software.  After all, who would know more than actual users who live with a package day after day and use it to do their work?

Here is the roster of Customer Satisfaction Award winners over the years:

CarbideCreate 2023
OneCNC 2023
PowerMill 2021 & 2016
SprutCAM 2020 & 2016
SolidCAM 2018 & 2017
HyperMill 2021
Mastercam 2021
Siemens NX 2020
Gibbscam 2018
CamBam 2018
Surfcam 2017

If you’d like to learn more about the Customer Satisfaction Awards, for example, the scores of all the top packages, refer to our eBook (see below).

Here’s the big chart of all customer satisfaction scores.  Note that we only include packages below that had at least 5 responses:


CAM Software Complaints

What causes readers to knock down their Customer Satisfaction Score on these CAM Packages?

Here is a ranking of the most popular CAM Package Complaints:

This year, complaints were way up in most of these areas with the exception that Toolpaths are way down in terms of complaints, though they’re still very high on the list.

CAM Software Favorite Features

These are the areas that respondents noted in their Top 3 favorite features of their chosen CAM software.

CAM Software Pros and Cons

Let’s look at these on a package-by-package basis.  Note that in some cases, you will see the same dimension called out as both a Pro and a Con.  That’s simply telling you the user base is split on those areas.



      CAD Integration 27.9%  
      Ease of Use 17.6%  
      Cost 17.6%  
      Toolpaths 10.3%  
      4 and 5 Axis 5.9%  
      Ease of Use 25.0%  
      Cost 12.5%  
      Cloud 10.7%  
      Stability 8.9%  
      Update Frequency 7.1%  
      Toolpaths 5.4%  
      Preview 5.4%  
      File Import 5.4%  


      Ease of Use 22.9%  
      Preview and Visualization Tools 14.6%  
      Support 10.4%  
      Toolpaths 10.4%  
      CAD Integration 8.3%  
      Fast 6.3%  
      File Import 6.3%  
      Tool Library 6.3%  
      Toolpaths 25.0%  
      Ease of Use 16.7%  
      Support 12.5%  
      Preview 8.3%  
      Feeds & Speeds 8.3%  
      Graphics 8.3%  


      Ease of Use 25.0%  
      Support 25.0%  
      Toolpaths 20.0%  
      Preview and Visualization Tools 5.0%  
      File Import 5.0%  
      Templates 5.0%  
      Post Processor 5.0%  
      Tool Library 5.0%  
      Cost 5.0%  
      Ease of Use 18.2%  
      Toolpaths 18.2%  
      Preview 13.6%  
      CAD 9.1%  
      Stability 9.1%  
      Cost 9.1%  


      CAD Integration 25.0%  
      Feature Recognition 20.0%  
      Toolpaths 15.0%  
      Templates 10.0%  
      Ease of Use 5.0%  
      Support 5.0%  
      Fast 5.0%  
      Customizable 5.0%  
      Handles Complex Projects 5.0%  
      Preview and Visualization Tools 5.0%  
      Ease of Use 18.8%  
      Toolpaths 18.8%  
      Speed 12.5%  
      Post Processor 12.5%  
      Feature Recognition 12.5%  
      Stability 6.3%  
      Customization 6.3%  
      Cost 6.3%  
      5 Axis 6.3%  


      Ease of Use 33.3%  
      Toolpaths 25.0%  
      Preview and Visualization Tools 8.3%  
      CAD Integration 8.3%  
      File Import 8.3%  
      Post Processor 8.3%  
      Feature Recognition 8.3%  
      Toolpaths 33.3%  
      Ease of Use 16.7%  
      CAD 16.7%  
      Stability 16.7%  
      Cost 16.7%  


      CAD Integration 35.3%  
      Feeds & Speeds 17.6%  
      Ease of Use 11.8%  
      Preview and Visualization Tools 11.8%  
      Post Processor 11.8%  
      Toolpaths 5.9%  
      Tool Library 5.9%  
      Toolpaths 16.7%  
      Preview 16.7%  
      Stability 16.7%  
      Graphics 16.7%  
      Speed 16.7%  
      Cost 16.7%  


      Toolpaths 45.5%  
      Ease of Use 18.2%  
      Tool Library 18.2%  
      CAD Integration 9.1%  
      4 and 5 Axis 9.1%  
      Ease of Use 22%  
      Stability 22%  
      Toolpaths 11%  
      CAD 11%  
      Tool Library 11%  
      Post Processor 11%  
      Update Frequency 11%  

Carbide Create/Motion

      Ease of Use 42.9%  
      Update Frequency 14.3%  
      Preview and Visualization Tools 14.3%  
      File Import 14.3%  
      Feeds & Speeds 14.3%  
      File Import 50.0%  
      Toolpaths 25.0%  
      Feeds & Speeds 25.0%  


      Toolpaths 40.0%  
      Ease of Use 20.0%  
      CAD Integration 20.0%  
      4 and 5 Axis 20.0%  
      Update Frequency 33.3%  
      Toolpaths 16.7%  
      Tool Library 16.7%  
      Stability 16.7%  
      Speed 16.7%  

Mecsoft (Visual and RhinoCAM)

      Support 28.6%  
      CAD Integration 28.6%  
      Ease of Use 14.3%  
      File Import 14.3%  
      Cost 14.3%  
      Ease of Use 66.7%  
      CAD 33.3%  

HSMWorks (Non Fusion 360)

      CAD Integration 42.9%  
      Ease of Use 14.3%  
      Support 14.3%  
      Post Processor 14.3%  
      Cost 14.3%  
      Toolpaths 20.0%  
      Preview 20.0%  
      Tool Library 20.0%  
      Stability 20.0%  
      Customization 20.0%  


      Feature Recognition 50.0%  
      Preview and Visualization Tools 25.0%  
      Templates 25.0%  
      Update Frequency 66.7%  
      Toolpaths 33.3%  


      Post Processor 33.3%  
      Ease of Use 16.7%  
      Support 16.7%  
      Fast 16.7%  
      Feature Recognition 16.7%  
      Update Frequency 66.7%  
      Toolpaths 33.3%  


      Support 40.0%  
      Ease of Use 20.0%  
      Fast 20.0%  
      Templates 20.0%  


CAM Demographics

These results are pretty similar to last year with Milling down slightly and Router and Turning work both up slightly.

Evaluating New CAM Software?

19.91% of respondents said they were evaluating new CAM Software compared to 20.67% last year.  

Conversational Programming

About 50% of you have used Conversational Programming to avoid having to CAM.  This is up from last years 45% number.

Conversational Programming is a time saving and simpler alternative to CADCAM for certain jobs.  I like to think of it as making it super easy to do all the sorts of things manual machinists do just by filling out a quick wizard.

         Conversational Programming can be delivered as a stand-alone software package like our G-Wizard Editor or it can be built right into your CNC Control.  It can make it a breeze to make simple parts or to add simple features to other parts.

Here’s G-Wizard Editor’s list of Conversational Turning Wizards to give an idea:


Do you modify your CAM-generated g-code by hand?


-Frequently:  16.3%, up from 12.2% last year

-Sometimes: 49.78%, down from 54.7% last year

-Never: 33.92% nearly unchanged from last year         

Being able to modify your CAM’s g-code can be a powerful tool. If your shop lacks this capability, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to improve automation and profitability. 

         To get an idea what’s possible, check out 37 things your CAM won’t do for you that g-code programming canIt will show you what’s possible with a little g-code programming added to CAM.

Our respondents use this capability to do the following kinds of things:

Testing and Proofing CAM-Generated CNC Programs

How do you test or proof your CAM-generated programs?

         Proofing programs to avoid crashes and other errors is critical before you run them on a machine.  Here’s how the survey respondents go about testing their programs:

  • 15.11% Cut “air” on the machine (down from 17.92% last year)
  • 60.89%run the code through the CAM simulator (down from 62% last year)
  • 9.78% use a stand alone simulator (same as last year)

The remainder use some combination of the three.

Note that trusting the CAM Simulator is down.  Most people do trust them.  What can be more sexy than watching that simulation?  It’s full 3D and you’d swear it has to be accurate.

       The issue is the way CAM program simulators work. If your CAM program includes a true CNC g-code simulator, then yes, it can be used to help test g-code programs.

       The thing is, most CAM programs don’t. They just plot the same geometry information that was used to create the g-code output by the postprocessor. This allows for subtle bugs to creep in that are not detectable in the CAM backplot. 

       For example, bugs in the post cannot be detected this way because the post is downstream of that geometry info.  In other words, you aren’t really performing an independent test on the g-code.  Relying on this type of simulator is fraught with peril.

       Because of that, a lot of experienced machinists insist on a separate simulated backplot as a sanity check for their g-code before they’ll run it. It doesn’t cost very much or take very long to have this peace of mind, so it’s something you should consider.

       Proving programs is just one of the reasons folks rely on our G-Wizard Editor software.  We wrote an article that details the sorts of problems a simulator like G-Wizard can eliminate from your programs:

5 Ways G-Code Simulators Crush CNC Errors



As always, we’ve learned a lot from our market survey.  If you liked it, be sure you’re subscribed to our blog newsletter so you don’t miss future installments.  There’s a signup form right below.  


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Recently updated on August 1st, 2023 at 10:48 am