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manofgresley
06-08-2012, 10:55 AM
Hi Everyone.

Just need a little advice on software. I appreciate this question has been asked hundreds of times before, so please forgive me for this.

I am now sorted with the hardware for my CNC, milling machine conversion, like i said, I am now onto the software side of things, but confusion still reigns.

Looking at other threads, most members seem to favor Mach3 to control the machine.
Then working back towards the computer I need CAM software to convert drawing files into a G Code.
The drawing files are created on CAD software then transferred into the CAM program for creating the G Code.

If I have this right, can members recommend a free, or relatively cheap CAD & CAM software packages i could download to practice on. I am not in the Budget for AUTOCAD but eventually, I hope to have a budget of 200.00, if this will buy me anything.

I understand the principal of program writing, as I used to write programs for my last employer on Mitsubishi and Siemans PLC's but i have no experience of CAD / CAM, but i am sure i could pick it up quickly.

All recommendations would be appreciated.


Regards

Ray

Sprut_UK
06-08-2012, 02:10 PM
SprutCAM have a free version of their commercial CAM software available for Hobby users. More info and download link here: NEW, FREE SprutCAM Express - Sprut Technology (UK) Ltd. Homepage (http://sprut.co.uk/22.html)

russell
06-08-2012, 05:55 PM
I've used Autocad since the 1980's (with version 1.4) but now use Draftsight. It does everything I want without the over-complication of the latest versions of Autocad. It's free and runs on Windows, Linux, and MAC systems.

Russell.

JAZZCNC
06-08-2012, 06:22 PM
SprutCAM have a free version of their commercial CAM software available for Hobby users. More info and download link here: NEW, FREE SprutCAM Express - Sprut Technology (UK) Ltd. Homepage (http://sprut.co.uk/22.html)

Thats excellent software for free. :applouse:.

Why don't you show the prices of the other versions of the software.? Are the prices that scary.?

I'm very interested in trying the expert version but don't want to waste my time playing with the trial version if the price is out of my reach.!! Would be much better if the prices were there to be seen.!

Jonathan
06-08-2012, 06:49 PM
If you can let us know what sort of things you'll be cutting then we can advise more precisely which is the most suitable software. For instance are the parts 3D profiles requiring simultaneous movement in all 3-axis, or perhaps '2.5d' shapes in which case the free version of CAMbam is perfectly adequate?

manofgresley
06-08-2012, 07:06 PM
Hi

I will be making mainly Guitar parts, Nuts (This is what the strings lay over were the tuning pegs are), Saddles )This is what the strings lay over the opposite end of the Nut)& Bridge pins (These are what hold the strings in an acoustic guitar) also be inlaying guitar fretboards and Headstocks with Abalone and M.O.P.

I suspect these are 3d profiles.

My apologies if you know these terms.

What is 2.5d?

Ray

Jonathan
06-08-2012, 07:15 PM
What is 2.5d?

2.5D and 3D Machining (http://www.welsoft.co.uk/machmill/hs20.htm)
Geometric Launches CAMWorksXpress by Desktop Engineering (http://www.deskeng.com/articles/aabebh.htm)

One way of thinking is any part that could (at least in theory) be cut using a milling cutter able to move simultaneously in X and Y but only moves in Z independently. It sounds like your parts are 3D profiles. CNCtoolkit (http://www.cnc-toolkit.com/) is one free option, although I wouldn't reccomend it at all for a beginner as it's by far the hardest CAM program I've used. Still, if you can get the hand of it there's not much you can't cut with it...

boldford
06-08-2012, 08:08 PM
I've used Autocad since the 1980's (with version 1.4) but now use Draftsight. It does everything I want without the over-complication of the latest versions of Autocad. It's free and runs on Windows, Linux, and MAC systems.

Russell.I've got to agree with you 100%. Having used AutoCad professionally from V10 and most versions since, now being semi-retired I wanted something without a steep learning curve. Draftsight was manna from heaven. The learning curve was almost pain free and possibly the best piece of free software I've ever used.

Sprut_UK
06-08-2012, 09:21 PM
Thats excellent software for free. :applouse:.

Why don't you show the prices of the other versions of the software.? Are the prices that scary.?

I'm very interested in trying the expert version but don't want to waste my time playing with the trial version if the price is out of my reach.!! Would be much better if the prices were there to be seen.!

Hi Jazzcnc, thank you for your question. We don't put the prices on the website for several reasons, the main one's being: just comparing prices of 'apparently' similar products can lead to a customer making a wrong commercial decision.........the cheapest software is not always the 'best value' and more expensive software can sometimes lead to a far higher 'return on investment'.
For many companies there is a requirement for integrating their machines directly into the software for toolpath calculation as well as for simulation purposes, this is an unknown cost until we get to see the machinery being used.
We provide a totally free 30 day trial of the full product for anyone to try. After the 30 day trial is finished the software will revert to Express mode.

In the UK we have arranged pricing specifically for hobby users who don't usually require instant support and who are generally happy to teach themselves (to a certain extent) how to use the software. The only difference between the hobby product and the full commercial version is that the hobby version can only use one dedicated postprocessor e.g. Mach3 or WinCNC etc.
If the Express version of SprutCAM does not suit your hobby needs then the Hobby version can be purchased for 850 (no vat), this includes turning and milling (2/2.5/3/4/5D).
If you are a commercial customer, please feel free to PM me for more details.

I hope this post doesn't break any forum rules?

Dave

manofgresley
07-08-2012, 08:06 PM
6541
Hi Again these are examples of the things i would like to make, i still cannot say if they are in 2d or 3d never mind 2.5d, what do you think.

Ray

JAZZCNC
07-08-2012, 09:36 PM
6541
Hi Again these are examples of the things i would like to make, i still cannot say if they are in 2d or 3d never mind 2.5d, what do you think.

Ray

They look 2D but the pictures are not very good resolution.? If the top surface of the bottom item curves then that will be 3D. It doesn't look curved but I know they can be on some guitars.!!

manofgresley
08-08-2012, 09:16 AM
Many thanks Jazzcnc.

The picture shows two items, the top item is a saddle and that is Radioused to the guitar fretboard, therefore it's 3D, Again many thanks for your advice and teaching.

Regards

Ray

Sprut_UK
08-08-2012, 09:30 PM
It does also depend on how you present the part to the cutter..............if you can safely tip the part on it's side you can then produce the radius quite easily as a 2D cutterpath. This is assuming that it is a radius around a single plane........if it is say a torus (doughnut) type shape then this will have to be done using 3D machining.
If it's not possible to use this method and the radiused face is facing the tool, then machining it as a 3D shape is your only option.
The uppermost part in your image looks like it has rounded edges.........these can be done using a radius cutter following a 2D shape, or, you can 3D mill it using a ballnose cutter.

I have created this short video to help you visualise the differences that I am referring to. The first part shows the part being machining in 3D and the second part shows the same part being machined using a 2D strategy:


http://www.download.sprut.co.uk/MyCNC/2D-3D/2D-3D.html

I hope this helps?

Dave