Thread: List of CAD/CAM Software
I only need to cut 2D parts so my workflow/software is:
CAD: AutoCAD (expensive and probably more capable than hobbiest needs) - create drawings and convert into dxf file(s)
CAM: dxf file into Vectric Cut 2D (excellent, simple to use, intuitive, good forum/support, around £120 seem to remember) to create toolpaths and generate Gcode
PostProcessing: MACH3 (full version, around £115) to turn Gcode into commands sent to the CNC machine to cut out parts
Works well for me for cutting out plywood, balsa, liteply, and the occasional aluminium part.
I downloaded the excellent and free 'Blender' software today with a view to using it as my 3D design tool, it can export to stl files, but having loaded it up I feel the learning curve is way too big.
I'm thinking Aspire may be a good all rounder for the stuff I want to produce but mainly due to the cost I'll need to look a lot deeper first.
Vectorworks, feature in this months 'Furniture & Cabinet Making' magazine
Last edited by EddyCurrent; 01-12-2013 at 09:40 PM.
I would add the following "artistic" scupting orientated packages
Sculptris - free and amazing
Zbrush - paid
Not for engineering - expressive and freeform but they have a place after all the keyword is CADesign.
I am very happy with Aspire - try the demo version, you can only output Gcode for some prebuilt examples but apart from
that its fully functional, seems to be a good responsive company.
Blender has fans but I cannot recall many who do not report issues regards the learning curve which is down to a rather idiosyncratic interface rather than complexity in what you are doing. Blenders roots are in animation rather than modelling and
it was developed as an inhouse tool to be used by pro's in that field - over the years they have tried to improve the interface but I think they have a way to go. There are some books for Blender and if you want to give it a serious go I would recommend buying one of the books - online docs and tutorials often lack something in this respect.
For me Blender ultimately fails (for modelling) because I believe that CADCAM software should be inherently intuitive to use - in my book if you have to look in the instruction manual (much) then at a useability level the software fails - of course complex software may need a complex interface so I am over generalising but at the same time I think Solidworks amply demonstrated over a decade ago that solid modelling could be easy and intuitive, you should be able to dive in and have fun rather than spend time wrestling with an interface.
When I first used Aspire I was reminded of my first encounter with Solidworks when it originally came out - nice easy interface, very little need to read before you play which is of course a great way to learn.
Aspire does lack full parametric modelling in the sense that when you change a 2D vector (drawing) the object you previously created from it does not update - it is orphaned, sign writers wanting to experiment through a lot of possible fonts may find this slightly taxing but full parametric modelling is not trivial to implement since changes to one feature can affect a subsequent feature. This is not to say that you cannot alter features once created, there is an impressive array of post processes that can be applied but at the same time it may be easier to simply delete a feature and start over (if for instance you have changed your mind regarding which font to use for text). Now that I am used to this I really do not mind I just adjust my workflow a little.
Given the price I am very pleased and indeed impressed with Aspire it runs without complaint on my windows8 machine although I do run with an i7 processor so I would probably be blissfuly unaware of any performance issues.
BTW also consider *.obj files as a good way to transfer models from one piece of software to another.
Last edited by jonnie; 02-12-2013 at 05:31 PM.
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At the moment I'm favouring this setup.
This is still a free download !
CAD Autodesk Labs Inventor Fusion
Then for the CAM side, Vectric Cut3d and VCarve Pro seem to cover everything I need.
I created a quick form in fusion and the Vectric software handles it very well. (just using the trail versions at the moment)
MeshCAM seems okay too but the Vectric software will work as one complete system.
Last edited by EddyCurrent; 13-12-2013 at 09:51 PM.
Ucancam V9 . Thats what the Chinese use. I think i am going to trial it, to see what it does but is quite promising for the price.
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