What is a 3D-Cam?

A 3D-Cam has complex surfaces that represent the cam-flanks. The rotational axes of the Cam and the Cam-Follower are usually perpendicular and offset.

Barrel, Cylindrical and Globoidal Cams are 3D-Cams.

Add 3D-Cam



Machine Elements Toolbar : Add 3D-Cam


Add menu > Mechanism sub-menu > Add 3D-Cam



You must prepare five elements in at least 3 different Mechanism-Editors. See Preparation

When you click Add 3D-Cam, you will see the five element in the Command-Manager.

The five element are, from top to bottom:

1.The Cam-Follower Part
2.The Cam-Follower Roller Profile
3.The Cam-Shaft Part
4.The Cam-Blank Profile
5.The Cam-Blank Axis-of-Rotation.

The five elements:

there are 3 different Mechanism-Editors when you want to add a Barrel Cam
there are 4 different Mechanism-Editors when you want to add a Globoidal Cam

To see the five elements, you must use Tools menu (or toolbar) > Show other Part-Outlines and Sketches


The 3D-Cam shows in the graphic-area.

See also:

Tutorial 6C1: Oscillating-Follower / Barrel-Cam;
Tutorial 6C2: Indexing Follower / Globoidal-Cam


The 3D-Cam 'tube' has four flank-surfaces with a mesh of points on each flank.

Four Flank Surfaces

Two Cam Flanks - the active flanks, one each side of the Cam-Follower
One Flank: - 'the root' or 'floor' of the Cam. It is not in contact with Cam-Follower.
One-Flank - the face that completes the rectangular cross-section.

Density of the Mesh

The are 'Rims' along the flank, made up of a number of points
The rims and points are equally spaced along and across each flank.
Use the 3D-Cam dialog-box to edit the number of rims and points, to give the density of the mesh.

See Also:

3D-Cam dialog-box

tog_minus        Preparation before you can use the 'Add 3D Cam' command


We calculate a 3D-Cam from the relative movement of Parts and Profiles in different Mechanism-Editors and Mechanism Planes.

The 5 Parts, Profiles and Mechanisms are:

A Part that rotates, in Mechanism 'A':  the Cam Part3s
A Part in Mechanism 'B': the Cam-Follower1s-red
A Profile2s in the Cam-Follower, and Mechanism 'B', the Cam-Follower Roller
A Cam-Blank Profile4s and the Cam-Blank Rotation Axis5s in Mechanism 'C'.

tog_minus        How to Add a 3D Cam


Before we can use the Add 3D Cam command, we must see the five elements we need to click to complete the command - see images below

STEP 1: Click the Mechanism name-tab with the 'Cam Part'3s

We must add the 3D-Cam in the Mechanism-Editor that has the Part that will be the 'Cam-Part'

In this example, we have renamed the Mechanism-Editor with the Cam-Part to BARREL.

STEP 2: Click 'Show other Mechanisms' command


STEP 3: Spin the model to show all five elements
STEP 4: Click Add 3D-Cam in the Machine-Elements toolbar.

3D Cam - Elements to be selected in the Command Manager.

The Command-Manager dialog-box opens with five selection boxes.

STEP 5: Click the five elements in the graphic-area

You MUST click the elements for each selection-box in the Command-Manager from top to bottom of the list.

Selection Elements for a Barrel or 3D Cam

1r: The Cam-Follower Part: Click the Grey Part-Outline of the Part

2r: The Cam-Follower Roller Profile: Click the Profile Contour (in Grey) for the Roller. [With 3D-Cams, the sketch for the Profile must be a circle]

3r : The Cam Part: Click the Green Part-Outline in the active Mechanism-Editor

4r*: The Cam-Blank Profile*: Click the Grey Profile Contour

5r*: The Axis-of-Rotation of the Cam Blank: Click the Grey sketch-line

Notes on : Cam-Blank and Rotation-Axis

4s5sTo transfer the 3D-Cam to SOLIDWORKS®, this sketch should only be:

a sketch-loop and Profile/Extrusion for the 'Cam-Blank'4s
a Line for the cam rotation axis5s.

Delete all other sketch-elements in the 'Barrel Blank' Part before you use transfer a Cam-Blank to SOLIDWORKS®. The shape does not need to replicate the cam-blank - but it helps.

Barrel Cam Example in MechDesigner

MechDesigner draws the 3D-Cam as a 'tube'.

The 3D-Cam is the 'negative' of a 'solid' Cam.

Use the 3D-Cam dialog-box to edit its parameters, and export it to SolidWorks®.

When the cam is transferred to SOLIDWORKS, the complete cam is built as a solid part.

Tutorial and Reference Help Files for MechDesigner and MotionDesigner 13.2 + © Machine, Mechanism, Motion and Cam Design Software by PSMotion Ltd