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View Full Version : Thoughts on Deskproto/Mini Review



Washout
10-03-2014, 05:11 PM
Hi All,
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I have been having a play with DeskProto for the last couple of weeks, as I was getting frustrated with Vectric 2D and 3D's lack of features and some "unsafe" practises. So I thought I'd share some findings and put up a mini review of sorts, as I'm fairly impressed with it so far.
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The main reason for looking at another CAM program was that Vectric is really designed for wood, which is fairly forgiving stuff compared to the aluminium I'm working with a lot these days and whilst easy to use has some stuff missing which is more due to lack of development (or Vectric concentrating on Aspire). Namely lack of climb/conventional milling control in 3D, a finishing pass that simply drapes a mesh over the part and doesn't do edge detection or other corrections, which in aluminium can be unforgiving on tools. Also the lack of a decent selection of strategies (especially waterline) leads to frustration. Oh and lack of or inconsistent application of ramping (i.e. in Cut 2D the paths only ramp some of the time).
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That's probably enough/too much bashing of Vectric so back to Deskproto.
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First off is the price - its pretty cheap for a non-commercial only license and not actually that bad if you needed to buy a commercial version.
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Versions - there are 3 versions:
Entry Edition - I didn't try this version, but it does 2D, 3D and bitmap machining
Expert Edition - everything in Entry plus 2 sided, split halves and mixed 2D and 3D machining
Multi-axis Edition - all the above plus 4 and 5 axis machining - 4 axis looks to include wrapped and indexed multi-sided machining (I've yet to try this out, but that will be coming soon along with my 4th Axis)
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For the non-commercial licence (multi-axis I think I paid less than 300 or thereabouts).
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Features I liked:
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Lot's of strategies: Parallel, Block, Crosswise, Circular, Radial, Offset, Waterline (my favourite) and Contour.
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Lots of control: You can set depth of cut, stepover etc as normal but also ramping (which so far is religiously enforced), roughing margin, vertical surface protection, rapid and plunge move speeds, enforced climb/conventional milling.
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It has decent control over the cutting area (useful for restriction 2 and 3D cuts and especially on finishing passes where you only want to round the curves not the flat surfaces as well). There are also options to confine the paths to the part and also skip horizontal and/or vertical surfaces (again useful for 3D finishing passes).
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There is also holding tab options and control over how much of a "gutter" you have around the part.
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There also seems to be active development going on and new features being added or refinements of existing ones.
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Stuff I think needs working on:
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The wizards are OK, but you do need to go into each toolpath generated from it to tweak and set some fairly fundamental settings, which would maybe be better on the wizard itself.
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Some functions e.g. calculate toolpath would be nice on a right mouse menu rather than having to go up to the main menu i.e. software ergonomics, as would say shift or ctrl with mouse to switch between rotate and panning like Sketchup.
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I've not used it much, but the 2D operations could do with some features e.g. being able to detect say holes or pockets and generate 2D vectors from them, so that a potentially better toolpath can be generated for that particular area.
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Simulations needs some work as whilst it gives you an analysed result, its not animated and for some reason a finishing path and roughing path don't subtract from each other to give the final result.
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Other than those, its pretty good and especially the partial 3D stuff, which can cut a 2 hour finishing pass with risk to tools etc. down to fractions of that and low risk to tools etc
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Conclusion:
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Very happy, low-ish learning curve, new stuff being added.
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Of course an HSM/Trochoidal option would be fantastic but I suspect that might be too much to ask for the money charged. Also a bitmap to 2d vector function would be nice as well, but again development vs price comes into it.
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I'll report back once I have my 4th axis and have run something with that and possibly put up some screenshots.
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Cheers
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Chris

EddyCurrent
10-03-2014, 11:20 PM
I was going to get Vectric Cut3D and VCarve Pro, I cut wood, so are you saying DeskProto might still be better for me ? I'm going to take a look at it now anyway.

Washout
11-03-2014, 12:01 AM
VCarve Pro does have a very quick "bitmap" to vector function which is great for doing signs or carved graphics etc, but I don't think I'll be using Cut3D again as the features in Deskproto are much better IMHO for machining metals.

Ijhammo
08-07-2014, 09:05 AM
Thanks for a nice review - very helpful. Did you get round to using the 4th axis?Also, have you ever looked at MeshCAM?

Washout
08-07-2014, 05:09 PM
Hi Ijhammo
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No problems, hopefully it helped.
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I haven't yet used the 4th axis functions, mainly due to my 4th axis being a rotary table and tail stock, which I have yet to attach a stepper motor to, but I still intend to do this when I can get the time.
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I've not looked at MeshCAM, but will do, as apart from maybe SolidCAM/iMachining there seem to be quirks and limitations to many CAM packages. It probably worth me adding a few more of these from Deskproto:


Ramping can be missed if there is not room on the 1st operation to fit the slope in (broken a few single flute tips due to this).

Having to calculate every tool path again when you load a file up rather than the software actually saving it internally is a bit of a faff (time consuming) especially when doing small DoC, step-over, high-res for say finishing passes.

Tool does not return to x/y zero - just raises to safe height.

On 3D finishing passes (especially using ball nose for some reason) there seems to be a lot of unnecessary plunges on outside curves etc. - that maybe something I have done in the parameters however.
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Cheers
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Chris

Ijhammo
09-07-2014, 03:05 PM
Duplicate post removed

Ijhammo
09-07-2014, 03:28 PM
Hi Chris,

your mini review was a real find as I have been struggling with the CAM piece.

i only got in to machining at the beginning of the year when I bought a sherline lathe and mill to support my model building hobby. I looked at some of the parts in the model and thought "I can make these better". I made a few bits by hand and quickly came to the conclusion that to get the finish I really wanted I would need to go CNC.

A few weeks ago I bought the CNC kit for my sherline mill, including the 4th axis rotary table. So far I have got it hooked up to Mach3 and can control the stepper motors nicely. For CAD I am using ViaCAD Pro9 as I had an early version and could upgrade cheaply :-)

the CAM piece has been trickier as it seems to be the limiting factor in the complexity of the pieces you can make. The hobby level pricing tends to lead to restricted features compared to something like SolidCAM which is $15k for multi axis!! (Ie very much not hobby!)

my other challenge is feed and speeds for the very small parts I need to make - I will be using tiny cutters for the fine details (1mm and smaller) and I can't get any good data on the rates to use.

thanks again for the tips

ian

Ijhammo
09-07-2014, 09:41 PM
Hi Chris,

Quick question if you have time to answer. I spent some some time this afternoon reading through the reference and tutorial manuals as well as watching some tutorial videos on YouTube.

one thing I can't figure out is if it is possible to manually set a round part segment (material stock). It seems DP defaults to this for rotational, but everywhere else it looks like its square or rectangular. Most of my stock is round as, for the sizes I need, it's much easier to find.

Am I missing something obvious?

cheers

ian

Washout
10-07-2014, 07:53 PM
Hi Ian,
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To be honest I don't know if it is possible. Deskproto do have a forum, so might be worth asking there.
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Chris

Ijhammo
12-07-2014, 11:44 AM
Hi Chris,

Thanks for the tip - I read through a load of posts (search on their site isn't too great) and found that the program defaults to round stock for rotational work (4 axis) and square for everything else. It's on their feature list for development though to be able to specify stock shape.

Cheers

Ian