View Full Version : advise please for getting fusion 360 (subscription) altanative

05-01-2018, 09:27 PM
Hi there I know there is a lot of "oh please tell me what to use etc" I have seen a few and keep seeing Fusion 360 is the go to but I don't want to subscribe to a payment plan for software I would much like to buy and own myself.

I am still searching through all various cam software's and then watching utube vids on them or downloading free trial software etc but am just wondering what is the next best thing that you can own yourself?

I am going to get Mach4
I have XP windows
CNC 6040

I am aiming to do mainly woodworking on my 6040.

Cheers for your time guys

05-01-2018, 11:44 PM
For home and hobby users, and small business users (can't remember the threshold but I seem to remember something like $100K/year turnover), F360 is free. Download the trial subscription and when it gets close to expiry, you can sign up for the free version. Basically the full version, but free. However, there are people who do not like this because data is held in the cloud (in practice, on Autodesk-managed servers) and there is always the possibility that the "free" deal will be withdrawn.

I hear good things about FreeCAD, but I haven't used it (I'm a F360 user for quite a lot of what I do).

When I first started using a CNC router, around 5 years ago, I tried a range of free software for both CAD and CAM. However, I had quite a few problems. That was 5 years ago and things might well have changed but I bought Vectric Vcarve and found it both easy to use and pretty powerful. It's not cheap but is good. It is designed for woodworkers rather than general engineering, and I still use it for some jobs as it is much quicker and easier than F360 (and is excellent for sign-making as its lettering engraving capabilities are very good). There are a number of different products in the Vectric range, and you can download trial copies if you are interested.

I'm sure you will get lots of other opinions - this is a very personal area and what suits one person might not suit another.

06-01-2018, 01:33 AM
I am aiming to do mainly woodworking on my 6040.

Then get V Carve Pro, as Neale said.

Regarding Mach4, do a lot of research before spending your money....

06-01-2018, 03:03 AM
I use CamBam for all my design work. It is a 2D package which is fine for almost everything you may want to cut out with a 3-axis router. It is easy to learn and use, has a pay-once-get-free-updates-for-life license and there is an active community producing some very useful add-ons including v-carved text.
You can buy it as a package with MACH3 or, for a low-cost option, the resulting G-code works well on CNClinux software.


06-01-2018, 09:52 AM
CAD and CAM can be separate packages if you want them to be if you want to spread the risk of F360 changing T&Cs (no sign of this by the way). I use a range of CAD software and they all produce IGES files which you can import into F360 and make use of the extensive CAM features.

Obviously the files are not linked this way and if you spot an issue doing the CAM you have to edit on the CAD program and export again. Rarely happens in practice and well worth it for the F360 CAM features.

The Vectric stuff is great (I have some myself) but there is a cost so I would do some comparisons with F360 before deciding. By the way F360 only runs on 64 bit so bare that in mind as last time I checked Mach 3 does not so if using that to drive the machine you need 2 PCs or dual boot etc

07-01-2018, 09:14 AM
Turbocad pro with the CAM and wood working plugin would also be an excellent choice if you search ebay.com you can normally find last years version for 1/3 the price of this years.

I use fusion now BUT I would highly recommend turbocad and see a time in the near future where I'll buy the latest copy (Mine is 8 years old) and subscribe to fusion as well.

07-01-2018, 12:21 PM
F360 only runs on 64 bit so bare that in mind as last time I checked Mach 3 does not so if using that to drive the machine you need 2 PCs or dual boot etc

Mach itself will run on 64bit, however the parallel port driver requires 32-bit and nothing newer than Win7.

07-01-2018, 12:47 PM
I have a spare pc with parallel port on board, free if you collect I'm in Leicester.

07-01-2018, 02:57 PM
I'm with Kitwn and also use CamBam.
Before you spend money on CAD software you need to decide why you need it. If it's for 3D work then it's maybe required but for 2.5D work there should be enough CAD in CamBam to cover your requirements.
That may be true of other CAM software but I don't have experience of those.

07-01-2018, 04:39 PM
m_c thanks for the correction

07-01-2018, 07:10 PM
Fusion is great for Hobbyists but the regularity of updates, and FUBARs, combined with a complete lack of genuinely up to date documentation for the current version on any given day leaves me viewing it as an interesting way to add uncertainty to the future of your use of CAD/CAM.
I used to think Autodesk would at some point skank everyone with a move to subscription but I've now realised they've already skanked everyone into a perpetual Beta Programme with no prospect of a finished product whilst leveraging all the testing and feedback for their subscription products :D

07-01-2018, 09:26 PM
Thanks guys I'm thankful for the input I will check out vcarve, cambam, fusion360 (free)

just need to fix my setup atm as nothing is responding for me?

07-01-2018, 10:06 PM
oh on a side note I just seen a thread about the parallel ports and it was mentioned that a parallel port to USB connector will not work... I am confused because the machine came with a Parallel port to USB connector?

08-01-2018, 12:11 AM
removed and moved to other topic