A "Starter" 3 axis CAM software that isn't F360? (Machining molds on CNC router)
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    Default A "Starter" 3 axis CAM software that isn't F360? (Machining molds on CNC router)

    By way of introduction, I have been working on designing a product for nearly 2 years. (I'm designing a knee pad that has a carbon fiber shell.) I started out carving foam and bondo, which was fine at first. But then I decided I needed to switch to a digital process. Fast forward 10 months and I'm drawing CAD models in Rhino and machining them on a shiny new CNC router.

    The router came with the VCarve Pro program. Technically it does work, but it is a huge bottleneck and an increasing source of frustration. For the record I have successfully made a series of molds with it. But parallel finishing is the only 3D machining strategy it has. And it's just silly to finish a 16"x20" mold entirely with a 1/8" ballnose. At a .005" stepover and 300ipm, it takes hours. Many, many hours!

    Introduction out of the way, I gotta find something better.

    (I asked about CAM software on a CNC router forum, but most people there have diy machines and use freeware and F360.)


    What is a good program that sits inbetween "hobbyist" and "industrial"? If you were in my situation, what programs would you consider? And how much should I expect to spend? I'm not afraid to pay for the right program, but at the same time I have a list of future expenses I have to consider.

    (At this point I expect people to suggest F360, but I'm just not into that! I did try it--I had to pay for 1 month just to find out what CAM features it has, and at that exact moment the server was down...I never found out what capabilities it has. I hadn't realized it is 100% cloud based before then. No thanks.)

    Right now I have a demo of RhinoCam, since I have been designing in Rhino. The standard version is $1,500. The main thing I would gain over VCarve pro is horizontal finishing. Plus I would completely avoid .stl file issues. The "Pro" version is enticing, but I really don't want to spend $5,000 on software right now.

    So yeah, what is a short list of programs I should be looking at? I probably haven't even heard of many of them yet! I have run across BobCam and have seen they have a new Rhino plugin...but I hear different things about BobCAM. And I don't know the cost of most of the programs I have come across....it's exhausting to think about dealing with a separate salesmen for every program, just to find out which ones are even a possibility.

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    Sometimes RhinoCAM pro goes on sale. We bought most of our license with a 25% discount. It's worth every penny, in my opinion. One of the nice things with RhinoCAM is that you can use Python to automate the programming. It's also great to be able to create your tool paths in your Rhino session, and if you make a change to your model, you just regenerate your tool paths and they are updated too.

    The support is great, and they will help you if you get stuck with a project.

    That would be my best recommendation for an existing Rhino user.

    Dan

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    While I hesitate to defend the foibles of fusion, you may have been a bit hasty in judging a piece of software you haven't actually used.
    Once downloaded, it will run independently offline

    Working with Fusion 360 Offline | Fusion 360 | Autodesk Knowledge Network

    I would see if you can find special offer and try again.


    they have a 30 day free trial .....

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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    While I hesitate to defend the foibles of fusion, you may have been a bit hasty in judging a piece of software you haven't actually used.
    Once downloaded, it will run independently offline

    Working with Fusion 360 Offline | Fusion 360 | Autodesk Knowledge Network

    I would see if you can find special offer and try again.


    they have a 30 day free trial .....

    I don't want this to be about Fusion, because I already know I don't want to use it. I just don't like it as a CAD program, the CAD capabilities aren't suited to my project, and I object to the cloud based nature of the program.

    I'm happy to spend a fair chunk of change on something that isn't F360, even if I could save money by using Fusion.

    About what I said--I was using a trial initially. In the trial version, the option to import a file from my computer was hidden. There was no way to open my own files. All I could do is view their sample projects or create a drawing in Fusion.

    The import file option instantly appeared when I paid for a subscription.

    When I went to open my file, Fusion went straight to uploading my file to the "my projects" or whatever it is in the cloud. I couldn't "just" open it. I couldn't do anything until the file was uploaded, and I didn't want my file uploaded in the first place.

    For the record, Fusion has changed a lot, and fairly recently. I had a "personal use" free license a year ago. It was a traditional program that did the calculations locally, much like what you desribe. Unfortunately that version has been shut down and replaced with something a little different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan B View Post
    Sometimes RhinoCAM pro goes on sale. We bought most of our license with a 25% discount. It's worth every penny, in my opinion. One of the nice things with RhinoCAM is that you can use Python to automate the programming. It's also great to be able to create your tool paths in your Rhino session, and if you make a change to your model, you just regenerate your tool paths and they are updated too.

    The support is great, and they will help you if you get stuck with a project.

    That would be my best recommendation for an existing Rhino user.

    Dan

    Thanks for replying. What version do you have experience with?

    I assumed I would go with RhinoCam, but now I'm having second thoughts after taking a closer look at the features.

    I'm questioning how much additional capability I will get from the "Standard" version over VCarve. Granted there is a lot more depth to RhinoCam, but as far as the actual machining strategies, the main difference between VCarve and RhinoCam "Standard" is horizontal finishing. That would help me out, but I'm questioning if that feature justifies the entire expense of the program.

    The other option for me would be the "pro" version. (I'm skipping the "Expert" version because it mainly adds 4th axis features without any additional 3 axis features.) It adds a lot of 3 axis features, but the cost goes up quite a bit as well.

    Any thoughts on the importance/usefullness of the features offered in the "Pro" version?

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    Sometimes the time problem is machining strategy. Just because the part is a mold from a 3D model does mean only 3d strategies should be used. Often you can create profiles to allow pocketing operations leaving only finishing to the 3d methods.

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    I would say Fusion is your best bet for what you are trying to do right now, $500 bucks a year for design, CAM and quite a few other things.

    For the CAM side, Fusions CAM is based off of HSMWorks that runs inside SolidWorks and was a gold partner until AutoDesk bought them so they could using the engine for Fusion 360 and InventorCAM.

    HSMWorks is still out there for free when you get Fusion, all the posts work for all three so once you have one post working all 3 CAM's can use it.

    Here at the SEMTE student machine shop we use SolidWorks and HSMWorks, Fusion 360 and Surfcam Traditional, There isn't anything we cannot cut. I use SW\HSMWorks and the other machinist uses Fusion 360 so if you are afraid that Fusion cannot cut what you want...IT CAN!

    Just my 2 cents.

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    SolidWorks is about $4k, if you pay $1k per year in maintenance than SolidWorksCAM is included. A SolidWorks and basic SolidCAM package is around $9k. NX is starting at mid teens. I think BobCAD is in the $6-8k range also, could be off on that one.

    This isn't what you want to hear, but there's a big step in price from Fusion to anything else. I started with F360 and was wondering if everyone knocking it knew something I didn't. SolidCAM set me up with a SW/SolidCAM 60 day trial, and I really wanted to be blown away by all the new power. (The sales rep was really good, no complaints about them at all).

    But for my use there just wasn't anything better about it, and a lot that I didn't like. SolidCAM is a plug in, but it's not integrated to the level of F360 (there's a reason it's called "Fusion"...). Everything just seemed unnecessarily complicated. One good thing that came out was after watching a ton of SW tutorials I kept seeing things that I didn't know were possible, so I'd go and check F360 and sure enough they had the same features.

    CAVEAT- Someone is going to have an example of what can't be done; maybe they're right, but I haven't experienced it.

    Once everything is downloaded the server thing is not really an issue, at least hasn't been for me. YMMV.

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    Hey guys, the reason I said "not f360" in the title is because I don't want to talk about F360. I shouldn't have to justify my choice to not use it, right?

    I was hoping to find out if there are other programs I should look into that I may not have heard about.

    Example: Finding Rhino was really down to luck. I knew about all the other industry standard CAD programs, I didn't know Rhino existed until fairly recently. But it turns out that it is the perfect program for what I'm doing. My project would have been dead in the water if I hadn't found Rhino.

    There is RhinoCAM, which seems to be an obvious choice. But I'm asking to see if there are any "off the radar" options that I haven't heard of.

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    Rhino is a great drawing program. Keep using it. Your cam does not have to be integrated with it. It is convenient, but not worth the near worthless programs cam software comes with.
    Especially if you are more designer than manufacturing your cad is more important to be at home in than your cam.
    Bobcad from my trial was alright, other than forcing me to import kinda of clumsly my models. SmartCam was far and away the best I tried. I am using fusion while I save for smartcam- because like said, the price is very low. I have tried a few simple models in Fusion drawing, and it is terrible compared to a real modeling program. Other than a few circles or rectangles to create boundaries for a machining operation I will not use it.
    Other than 3d printing or game design it is best to remove stl from you vocabulary if you are doing any cool 3d shapes, or curves.
    Cam companies all offer trials, take advantage of this and find one that is most ergonomical to you. Do not discount fusion cam side either- autodesk has some good software(fusion, maya, rivett) and bad software (autocad needs retired 5 years ago).
    or just get catia and be done with all debate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by memphisjed View Post
    or just get catia and be done with all debate.
    Pro/E, ya damn hippy !

    What was that one with the weird name that used to be varimetrix ? XYZ3D or something ? Used to be pretty cheap ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DsKnees View Post
    By way of introduction, I have been working on designing a product for nearly 2 years. (I'm designing a knee pad that has a carbon fiber shell.) I started out carving foam and bondo, which was fine at first. But then I decided I needed to switch to a digital process. Fast forward 10 months and I'm drawing CAD models in Rhino and machining them on a shiny new CNC router.

    The router came with the VCarve Pro program. Technically it does work, but it is a huge bottleneck and an increasing source of frustration. For the record I have successfully made a series of molds with it. But parallel finishing is the only 3D machining strategy it has. And it's just silly to finish a 16"x20" mold entirely with a 1/8" ballnose. At a .005" stepover and 300ipm, it takes hours. Many, many hours!

    Introduction out of the way, I gotta find something better.

    (I asked about CAM software on a CNC router forum, but most people there have diy machines and use freeware and F360.)


    What is a good program that sits inbetween "hobbyist" and "industrial"? If you were in my situation, what programs would you consider? And how much should I expect to spend? I'm not afraid to pay for the right program, but at the same time I have a list of future expenses I have to consider.

    (At this point I expect people to suggest F360, but I'm just not into that! I did try it--I had to pay for 1 month just to find out what CAM features it has, and at that exact moment the server was down...I never found out what capabilities it has. I hadn't realized it is 100% cloud based before then. No thanks.)

    Right now I have a demo of RhinoCam, since I have been designing in Rhino. The standard version is $1,500. The main thing I would gain over VCarve pro is horizontal finishing. Plus I would completely avoid .stl file issues. The "Pro" version is enticing, but I really don't want to spend $5,000 on software right now.

    So yeah, what is a short list of programs I should be looking at? I probably haven't even heard of many of them yet! I have run across BobCam and have seen they have a new Rhino plugin...but I hear different things about BobCAM. And I don't know the cost of most of the programs I have come across....it's exhausting to think about dealing with a separate salesmen for every program, just to find out which ones are even a possibility.
    not a great way to start off with a lie, it isn't could based as you present it, it actually installs the program on your pc and can run offline as well for some period of time till it needs to reverify your licence

    what you could have had problem with is if you designed a model on one PC, it is backed up in cloud, AND is stored also on your pc for offline usage, then you moved to another pc, opened up fusion and couldn't access your cloud stored model, and since it hasn't been backed up to local storage, you couldn't work with it on that particular pc, if you moved back to your original one - you still could open your file and work with it, and it would be marked as latest version and when your internet or their servers come back up online - the cloud version gets updated to newest version you just worked on

    not defending AD or saying this system is great, but I really dislike the constant bashing and plain lying about how it works from either ignorant or malicious individuals

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    I think Dolphin CADCAM still exists - prices are not crazy, and it may be good enough for what you want.
    Dolphin Cad Cam

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    Quote Originally Posted by jz79 View Post
    not a great way to start off with a lie, it isn't could based as you present it, it actually installs the program on your pc and can run offline as well for some period of time till it needs to reverify your licence

    what you could have had problem with is if you designed a model on one PC, it is backed up in cloud, AND is stored also on your pc for offline usage, then you moved to another pc, opened up fusion and couldn't access your cloud stored model, and since it hasn't been backed up to local storage, you couldn't work with it on that particular pc, if you moved back to your original one - you still could open your file and work with it, and it would be marked as latest version and when your internet or their servers come back up online - the cloud version gets updated to newest version you just worked on

    not defending AD or saying this system is great, but I really dislike the constant bashing and plain lying about how it works from either ignorant or malicious individuals
    I related factual experience. And I explained in more detail what happened, but it went to moderation land....I didn't say anything vulgar or inappropriate.

    The recent program would not open my parasolid file without first uploading it to the cloud. That makes it cloud based. I didn't want my file on the cloud. (The previous "pesonal use" license I had let me open files locally without an upload, so the program did change, nd you may not be fully aware of the changes?)

    And later when I tried drawing something as a sample, I was locked out and got error messages saying the server was down....something like that. I couldn't make a sketch.

    There is the way it used to be and the way it is now. I used the older version much more successfully. But I mostly didn't use it while I had it, because I didn't like it then. Now it is more cloud dependent, which makes me even more less inclined to use it.

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    Somewhere in the middle.... KeyCreator? right now, around 4k

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    OK I have a question to all on this thread, I know it's not related to the CAM debate, but it is to the cloud side.

    Are any of you using GrabCAD for collaboration between team members or company workflow?

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    I know Mastercam has a router package, but I don't know anything about it.
    Mastercam's CNC Router Software Solutions | Mastercam Products

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    Quote Originally Posted by memphisjed View Post
    SmartCam was far and away the best I tried. I am using fusion while I save for smartcam- because like said, the price is very low. I have tried a few simple models in Fusion drawing, and it is terrible compared to a real modeling program. Other than a few circles or rectangles to create boundaries for a machining operation I will not use it.
    Smartcam is reasonably priced, Advanced 3 axis is $2400 outright $3600 w/ 1 year support or $1800/year lease, at least as of 2019. I fondly remember Smartcam and still have my ~1998 version and was/am considering returning to the latest version to get away from Edgecam. I'm currently trying out Fusion and yes the modeling is really amateur hour. (As if Fisher-Price made CAD ) Fusion is really difficult to use without internet connection. You have to log in to start it, then switch to offline mode. If you need to restart Fusion or your PC you need to switch back to online and log in again, it seems the only way to stay offline is to unplug and never shut down your PC and with W10's constant updating that's pretty difficult. This is with a paid version of Fusion, I don't know how the free version works. Not sure if you can import a solid without being online, I haven't tried it. Having said that, the CAM side is pretty capable, I just wish they would stop changing things that don't need changed willy nilly without recourse or warning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DsKnees View Post
    I related factual experience. And I explained in more detail what happened, but it went to moderation land....I didn't say anything vulgar or inappropriate.

    The recent program would not open my parasolid file without first uploading it to the cloud. That makes it cloud based. I didn't want my file on the cloud. (The previous "pesonal use" license I had let me open files locally without an upload, so the program did change, nd you may not be fully aware of the changes?)

    And later when I tried drawing something as a sample, I was locked out and got error messages saying the server was down....something like that. I couldn't make a sketch.

    There is the way it used to be and the way it is now. I used the older version much more successfully. But I mostly didn't use it while I had it, because I didn't like it then. Now it is more cloud dependent, which makes me even more less inclined to use it.
    Just tested that indeed Parasolid cannot be opened without an online converter, but it will open STEP files no problem, perhaps something to do with licensing, since Parasolid was Siemens owned(?) and STEP is standardized format

    but the funny thing about this is that I couldn't start Fusion 360 on this pc in offline mode without internet - I unplugged ethernet and it would say it needs Internet, I reconnected, switched to offline, unplug the cable, it continues to run, this is how I tested Parasolid vs STEP, then closed Fusion, tried starting back up and nada - asks for internet again, seems like AD is fixing things that weren't broken

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    Quote Originally Posted by jz79 View Post
    again, seems like AD is fixing things that weren't broken
    Quote Originally Posted by Mud View Post
    I just wish they would stop changing things that don't need changed willy nilly without recourse or warning.
    This week they completely redid the create cnc code dialog, now you have to click and select things that you could leave preset previously. I'll presume that of all the things that could have used attention, this was the highest priority.


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