View Full Version : Help needed with chossing/using a CAD program for specific purpose

10-03-2016, 03:51 PM
Hi all,

I just bought a refurbished CNC lathe and it's already set up for Mach3. The issue I'm having is simply one of learning. I need CAD/CAM designed for 12 year olds but I think even they know more than me. Looking at programs like solidworks 2d just makes my eyes glaze over. Having said that, here is my question...

Denford make a Cad/cam called "QuickTurn 2d Design" and I have tried the demo which is so simple. It's the only program so far of all the programs I have tried that I can actually design something quickly and very easily. The problem is it seems there is some controversy as to whether the CAM part of it works very well with Mach3 and they do not allow a trial of saving Gcode.

The price is 168 +vat which is not bad for such a nice (simple) program compared to others I have seen, but if the CAM has problems with Mach3 then it comes down to only using the CAD to design and export a file to a CAM such as Lazycam.

Maybe the QuickTurn CAM will work with Mach3, but if not and my only option is to use Quickturn for the CAD, then does anyone have suggestions (nice ones hopefully) as to what other less-expensive programs there might be that could be set up to mimic the CAD side of QuickTurn? The point is simplicity and Quickturn is very simple with the resulting design drawings being technical enough for the type of parts I wish to produce. Just enter two dimensions it makes the bar shape. Draw some lines in the bar shape and you have the part plus it shows you the concept in 3D. I think this is so simple that there must be a way to set this up in other cad programs or even the solidworks 2d that I have. Don't know if this is a trial of 2d solidworks or not, but it's free right now. I don't mind spending some money, but if I can get something like QuickTurn CAD cheaper then great.

Any ideas on this would be appreciated.


10-03-2016, 04:08 PM
HI Rob,

Free for hobby use and startups is Autodesks Fusion 360. There is plenty of info on how to use it on Youtube. It is very powerful and has good lathe functionality.

I personally like to use Creo for the modelling side of things then use Fusion for the CAM.


11-03-2016, 01:40 PM
I use Draftsight for the cad portion (Free www.draftsight.com) which is an autocad clone.
For the Cam portion, I use Sheetcam (www.sheetcam.com) and the post processor for it seems to work very well.

11-03-2016, 01:58 PM
I personally learned CAD modeling in Solidworks, but if I were to do it all over, I would definitely pick Fusion 360. I think it's great for both modelling and machining. At least it's all in one place, and it's free. There is IMHO nothing comparable for free out there.

11-03-2016, 08:58 PM
Hello guys, thx for the comments. I have watched a few vids on fusion 360 and will try it out. The only thing is I read on another thread here that although it is free for hobby use there are conditions that make it limited to one year, but I guess a lot can happen in a year.

I have tried Draftsight but hard to learn by myself.

Overall I might just pop for the Denford Quickturn 2d Design because although it is nothing much compared to many Cad/Cam options , it (the CAD) does what I want it to do and so easily (made for schools/education) that I made my first design in a minute or so. Nothing else has been that easy. I just wish I could try the CAM side out first for real.

Fusion 360 will be my last attempt at something else as I need to get this lathe doing something. Let's see how it goes.

11-03-2016, 09:03 PM
Good evening Rob,

Just forgot to mention that you could always use Google SketchUp. It's free, and extremely easy. The learning process takes less than 4 hours to be honest. It is completely free, there are lots of plugins out there. Many people use it here on the forum (I could think of Boyan, Lee, and many others). Have a look at it. It is very light. It was designed to be easy.

Might be better off trying that before Fusion 360. Then may be you can use F360 for the CAM part.

All the best,

11-03-2016, 09:46 PM
Cheers for the idea eurikain,

I have had sketch-up for a long time and did make some inroads by following tutorials, but eventually gave up trying to figure it out. However, that was a while back when I was interested in trying to learn some CAD just for the fun of it. Now I have a specific purpose for turning so as you mention plug ins, I will revisit sketchup and see what can be done.

For CAM I could try to understand LazyCam which is MACH's version or go with fusion 360 as you suggest. I will try all these solutions in the next week and maybe something will work out cheap. If not, there is the Quickturn option, it's not that expensive relative to paid-for software.

12-03-2016, 09:46 AM
You are very welcome, it's a pleasure sharing experience :)

Please report here what turns out the best for you !

You will find that SketchUp has helpful plugins such as fillets (probably the most helpful for me really.. that was a huge missing feature compared to other software.

12-03-2016, 12:02 PM
Hi eurikain, well, I tried SketchUp again and looked for plugins to do with turning but it's just to complicated for me which is funny because it is so easy for many people.

HOWEVER...happy days, I also tried the Fussion 360 (until I fell asleep at the computer,lol) and I really like it! I guess the best way to describe Fussion is it "feels right" to navigate the program and the videos definitely show the potential in a way that I can understand. Fussion is way more complicated than the Denford 2D program and I didn't get to try the "turning" option (in fussion) yet as I was too tired, but from the video tutorials on YouTube and from the limited time spent on Fussion itself I can see the potential.

Another point is my desire up to now was just for lathe turning and a simple program like Denfords 2D would be fine for that, but it's very limiting. I have other things to make which will require milling so in the long run it's better to learn something like Fussion if I can.

On another note, a friend called me last night and it transpired that he used to work with a larger Denford CNC lathe and knows Gcode etc... hopefully he will visit soon and give me some tips for the machine. EDIT, he just called and is coming over in an hour, fantastic!

The last thing is you mention the fillets and plugins for Sketchup are an important feature for you and that these options are missing for many other programs. I hope Fussion has the versatility I need and that the CAM side will work with Mach3, we will see.

12-03-2016, 12:56 PM
Hi Komatias, I have tried Fussion 360 and I like it a lot even for the CAD side. Thanks for the original suggestion. :)

12-03-2016, 03:49 PM
Great to hear that you like Fusion 360. To be honest, I don't use Sketchup very often, actually never since I use only Solidworks, but back when I didn't know SW I only used Sketchup. But again, back then I didn't know of Fusion360, otherwise there is no doubt I would have picked it first hand.

12-03-2016, 07:36 PM
Today my friend came over and gave me some good tips. He was interested when I showed him Fussion 360 as he didn't know about it, but the embarrassing thing is I tried to replicate what I did last night but have already forgotten how, lol. Back to the video tutorials! It's just a matter of some practice and I think within a few weeks the turning aspect will be sorted out.

When I have something to show for the effort I'll make some update.

12-03-2016, 07:56 PM
Sounds good.

Generally, a good thing to learn is to make something you actually need to make, because then you'll learn and remember much faster.

12-03-2016, 08:38 PM
Yes, good point. Actually this whole project revolves around one idea so even the CAD learning is focused on making my specific items. Hopefully the first items made will also be prototypes of the eventual things I wish to make multiple copies of.