In this paper, web-based design and manufacturing systems are compared with a commercial CAD/CAM system from the point of usability. The web-based systems included in this study were MIcro Machining System (MIMS) and SmartFab. In the MIMS architecture, a 3D model in STL format was read via a web browser, sent to the web server for toolpath planning, and NC codes were generated to be fed back to the designer through the web connection. In the SmartFab system, SolidWorks was used as the design interface with provided modified menus for micro machining. These additional menus were created by SolidWorks API that also provided web-based links to the toolpath planner. In the commercial CAD/CAM case, without using any web connection, SolidWorks or CATIA was used for design, and PowerMill was used as a CAM tool. For each design and manufacturing system, accessibility, user-friendliness, toolpath-reliability, and processing time were compared. Total 91 students tested these systems in undergraduate CAD class, and the feedback showed better performance of the web-based system in accessibility, user-friendliness, and processing time. However, reliability of the web-based system showed necessity of further improvement.

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