What software for 3d design, leading to CNC machining ?
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  1. #1
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    Default What software for 3d design, leading to CNC machining ?

    What software is ideal for designing simple parts or products . Looking to realize some design ideas, which I would want to make with Rapid Prototyping and or CNC machining.

    For example: I want to design a spectacle frame (in steel or Ti) or belt buckle or an automotive part (no moving parts), and I wanted to create the design in metal either with Rapid Prototyping or CNC machining.

    Solidworks? Some other programs ?

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    It depends on the complexity of the parts and if you're used to something already. When I was having stuff contract made, I used eMAchineshop.com's build/quote/order software and it worked well for the pieces I was getting made at the time. Expensive for one-offs, but decent pricing for runs of 10+. I tried to build a cylinder head and played around with OnShape, and it seemed capable but was not intuitive. I tried Rhino and wasn't into it. I've settled on Fusion 360 and absolutely love it. It has a few quirks here and there but it has me going from concept to a part in hand in a few hours for simpler stuff. I have to make the drawings and process the toolpaths to issues quotes (I'm just starting out, I'm sure with experience I'll be able to guess at quoting much more accurately without visualizing it in the software) so it has been great for getting the idea down fast. That said, if you've got a shop you'll be working with, they are the ones to ask as using the same product they are would make integration seamless.

    BTW if you need anything made fast and locally, hit me up and perhaps I can help. I am in Saukville and prototypes and small projects are my focus.

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    We really need a sticky at the top of the CAD/CAM forum that says:

    LOOKING FOR BASIC CAD/CAM TO LEARN WITH OR START OUT ON? JUST GET FUSION 360

    Fusion is modern, decently robust, has a huge amount of active development behind it, has a complete set of basic tools plus a lot of advanced ones, is easy to learn to use with hundreds of YouTube tutorials, works on any computer, and has a cost of $0.

    Is it perfect? No. Is it a truly professional tool? Probably not quite yet, but it is rapidly evolving to get there (I do know a couple of ID focused shops who've moved to it 100%). Is it suitable for your ITAR/Med/Aerospace parts? No, but if you're working in those fields and you can't get the scratch to buy SW/NX/CATIA, you suck at business.

    Most importantly, it isn't like Fusion is somehow fundamentally different from all the other CAD/CAM packages - you make sketches, extrude/sweep/revolve those into solids, throw features on those solids, throw toolpath all over it. You'll develop the way of thinking and strategizing that defines 90% of CAD/CAM skills, and those are immediately transferable to other CAD/CAM packages.

    This is question the forum gets a lot, and I defy anyone to tell me why Fusion 360 shouldn't just be the default answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    This is question the forum gets a lot, and I defy anyone to tell me why Fusion 360 shouldn't just be the default answer.
    Because it depends on what the person really needs. He might just need a seat of Solidworks, maybe that will be best for his design end, and then he can get a Mastercam Add-on for solidworks.
    If I was just starting out I would definitely look into Fusion 360. But I'm pretty biased toward Mastercam having used it for the last 20+ years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    Because it depends on what the person really needs. He might just need a seat of Solidworks, maybe that will be best for his design end, and then he can get a Mastercam Add-on for solidworks.
    If I was just starting out I would definitely look into Fusion 360. But I'm pretty biased toward Mastercam having used it for the last 20+ years.
    Sure!

    But the vast *vast* majority of "What CAD/CAM should I get?" questions come from noobs, students, hobby types, and idea people looking to cut their teeth on something. Nearly all of them are best served (right now) by Fusion 360.

    Even if Fusion 360 isn't the best for someone in the long term, the cost is so low and the learning curve so good that it's absolutely worth using it as an onramp to bigger/better tools. Use it to inform yourself of the capabilities you need from a CAD/CAM system before jumping in with a big investment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    Sure!

    But the vast *vast* majority of "What CAD/CAM should I get?" questions come from noobs, students, hobby types, and idea people looking to cut their teeth on something. Nearly all of them are best served (right now) by Fusion 360.
    Oh for sure,I agree.

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    Thing about Fusion 360 is the cost of entry is so low. I switched to it 4? years ago, right before you could pay for it, and I f***ing love it! My biggest bitch is it sucks for single line engraving, which I am doing more and more of.

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    I am not looking at large product runs. Just prototyping at this stage, and then small runs (under 100). I am a total noob. Looking for a noob friendly design software

    What I would really like to do is design a product - spectacle frame for example - that I can then hand over to someone who runs a 3 or 5 axis mill. The other impetus to learn some kind of 3d design software is having the ability to visualize on a screen the idea in my head, so other people can understand what I am trying to achieve.

    I am going to start reading about Fusion 360. Is the program well suited to designing something like the following: engine and transmission mounting brackets for body-on-frame vehicles? What about designing artsy stuff in metal, interior furnishing (in metal) ?

    Can someone please give a rundown on the differences between Fusion 360, Solidworks, Mastercam ? Do they all compete for the same market and do the same thing?
    If you wanted to design an engine and transmission mounting bracket or redesign a frame for a body-on-frame vehicle, what software is best choice for someone who knows nothing about 3d design?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    I am not looking at large product runs. Just prototyping at this stage, and then small runs (under 100). I am a total noob. Looking for a noob friendly design software
    Just get Fusion and stop over-thinking it. Yes, it can make everything you seem to be interested in making.

    SolidWorks (CAD) and MasterCAM (obviously, CAM) are two separate and very expensive pieces of software that work together to do more advanced versions of what Fusion 360 (CAD+CAM all in one) does. Perhaps there will be a day that the extra features and power of SolidWorks/MasterCAM will be necessary for you to efficiently do what you're trying to accomplish, but the sort of questions you're asking tell me that this isn't today for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    We really need a sticky at the top of the CAD/CAM forum that says:

    LOOKING FOR BASIC CAD/CAM TO LEARN WITH OR START OUT ON? JUST GET FUSION 360
    The question will still get asked. Even when you tell someone to go get F360 they'll come back with a 'yabutt' and you again have to tell them just go get F360...its like the words FREE and fully functional CAD CAM don't register.

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    Spud,

    Fusion 360 talks pretty seamlessly with Deckel Dialog 4 (and Haas and Fanuc and...). Given your Deckel leanings, do you need to know more?

    RKlopp

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    .................................................. .............

    What I would really like to do is design a product - spectacle frame for example - that I can then hand over to someone who runs a 3 or 5 axis mill. The other impetus to learn some kind of 3d design software is having the ability to visualize on a screen the idea in my head, so other people can understand what I am trying to achieve.

    .................................................. .......................................
    A spectacle frame? Is that the type thing that Fusion can do well (I'm thinking like a sculpted sun glasses frame)? Can you freely distort, pull and stretch objects in Fusion?

    My thought is maybe Rhino would be better for free form designs. Or maybe another system? But, I don't know for sure.

    I fooled with Fusion to the point I could do 4th axis engraving on cylindrical objects. I didn't find it particularly intuitive (at that time they hadn't even implemented dxf import). The only thing nice about it was the cost and that was out weighed by the learning time so I went for another system.

    In addition to the above I don't trust Autodesk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    A spectacle frame? Is that the type thing that Fusion can do well (I'm thinking like a sculpted sun glasses frame)? Can you freely distort, pull and stretch objects in Fusion?
    Autodesk acquired T-splines a few years ago and integrated it into Fusion. It's NURBS-like driven, curvature continuous maintained free-form modeling. Similar (but nowhere near as powerful) as NX's realize shape. The ID people I know who are running Fusion actually go for it because T-splines modeling is so powerful, and the package leapfrogs what's available in SolidWorks when it comes to free-form surface modeling (without stepping up to $25k a piece seats of NX Mach Industrial Design).

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    There is actually a good video tutorial on making a spectacle frame to demostrate the power of using sketches and the timeline in Fusion 360. I think it was done by one of the software engineers.

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    Pencil paper and a good set of stencils?

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    We may be talking past the OP here a bit. To the OP, just to make sure you understand the workflow here:

    1) Idea!
    2) CAD - make a virtual 3D model of the part
    3) CAM - pick the machine type, tools, and tool paths to cut the part out of stock material
    4) Post Process - turn the tools, stock size and part zero(s), and tool paths into code that a *specific* CNC machine tool understands
    5) Make the part

    I just wanted to make sure you understood that if you make a 3D model of a part, your partnering CNC shop will need to do the CAM and post processing for their specific setup in order to actually make chips. The CAD designs the part, the CAM designs the physical process. That's why I comment that you may be able to more seamlessly integrate your designs with your partnering shop if you find out what they are using. The CAD programs I've used have all had ways to import/export different formats, but it may not be intuitive to you just starting out.

    I can't think of a better option out there than Fusion 360 for getting a feel for the whole process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    A spectacle frame? Is that the type thing that Fusion can do well (I'm thinking like a sculpted sun glasses frame)? Can you freely distort, pull and stretch objects in Fusion?

    My thought is maybe Rhino would be better for free form designs. Or maybe another system? But, I don't know for sure.

    I fooled with Fusion to the point I could do 4th axis engraving on cylindrical objects. I didn't find it particularly intuitive (at that time they hadn't even implemented dxf import). The only thing nice about it was the cost and that was out weighed by the learning time so I went for another system.

    In addition to the above I don't trust Autodesk.

    Fusion 360 includes a "sculpt" area. Very organic. It also has a model area, more mechanical. As to Solidworks, I have never tried it because it costs a fortune and there is no demo version I have ever seen. Besides, if you learn fusion, you become comfortable with Autodesk suite of tools. Meshmixer, remake, fusion, inventor, autoCAD. All autodesk products and all use a similar environment. If you plan to be doing modeling long term, you pick one of the big 2. I went autodesk because in 10 years of using the products, I have never used them for professional use so have never been charged a dime for use.
    I found the tutorials for fusion360 to be above the average. Do not overlook youTube for more tutorials. I build 3D printers and recently acquired a small CNC mill. I do this for fun. Fusion360 is my no question go to modeling and CAM sofware. 3D printing uses a different tool chain once the model is drawn but I still draw for printing in fusion360. It used to be 123D, another free to use autodesk product which was discontinued.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptnBlynd View Post
    Meshmixer, remake, fusion, inventor, autoCAD. All autodesk products and all use a similar environment. If you plan to be doing modeling long term, you pick one of the big 2. I went autodesk because in 10 years of using the products, I have never used them for professional use so have never been charged a dime for use.
    not sure how you haven't Paid for AutoCad or Inventor in 10 years, unless you are in education or....??

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    Quote Originally Posted by len_1962 View Post
    not sure how you haven't Paid for AutoCad or Inventor in 10 years, unless you are in education or....??
    Arrrr matey.
    Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    Arrrr matey.
    Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
    that's what I was thinking, he does go by CaptnBlynd
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