What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

AnthonyB
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What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by AnthonyB » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:14 am

Hi All,

I'm having some trouble finding a decent CAD and/or CAM package that works for me. My initial criteria:
  • reasonably easy to use, although I'm tech savvy (programmer/sysadmin/vim user), so some learning curve in exchange for power is ok.
  • open source, free, cheap, in that order
  • runs under Linux, although I have Windows if necessary
My initial tests are pretty simple - draw a small cube and generate some gcode for it to mill on the shapeoko. So far, I've tried the following:
  • makercam.com - seems pretty reasonable, although the drawing options are quite limited (not sure why there's a freehand option instead of point-to-point lines). I've actually managed to make something with this option.
  • heekscnc - seems to be the recommended option, but I'm finding it unusable. It was a complete pain to install all the bits and compile under Ubuntu, but wasn't too bad on Windows. It's hard to use, continually crashing, does sort-of CAM but adds weird things in, even for a simple box shape. It also seems to be unmaintained.
  • FreeCAD - similarly hard to use ("shape assembly" seems the best workbench), although people are apparently using it for all sorts of fancy widgets. Easy to install, but it doesn't do CAM, so you need to export to something. Not sure what to export drawings as.
  • gSimple - CAD/CAM, but can't import anything other than 2D shapes, so you need to use the built-in drawing tools, which are hard to use.
  • Google sketchup + Phlatscript - seems to work ok, except that sketchup doesn't seem to support any precision-things, like snapping to a grid or resizing elements once you've
  • PyCAM - there are two versions - 0.5.x, which sort-of works except that it produces really odd gcode which jumps all over the place. 0.6 is the new version, which doesn't seem to work or do a profile style cut.
  • Cambam - does CAD/CAM - I'm looking at this more seriously, except that it's expensive and also seems quite hard to use. Early days still though.
  • I'm also looking at generating the gcode programmatically with Python, a'la David Beazley's python talk (https://speakerdeck.com/pyconslides/pyt ... id-beazley and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyDA5y6TIg), but I suspect that this will get hard for shapes which aren't simple geometries
Have I missed anything? Other people seem to be generating lots of neat stuff (eg. look at IC's spoilboard here: http://shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1430 but most of the posts are about the machines themselves, not how they're being used. Are there blogs or posts that I've missed where people talk about this aspect a bit more?

Thanks,

Anthony
Shapeoko #1501 - dual-y axis, double x gantry and a Makita RT0700CX spindle.

WillAdams
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by WillAdams » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:20 pm

There are a few more things in the wiki but that's about the state of things.

You can do precision work in Sketchup by drawing shapes to size, then aligning them to objects.

I've found this aspect so frustrating I've been reduced to hand-coding G-code and have been considering coding up a drawing front-end using Processing.
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ThatOtherGuy435
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by ThatOtherGuy435 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:31 pm

I'm not sure if it would work under WINE, but if you're a student, Autodesk products are free for educational use.
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twforeman
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by twforeman » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:51 pm

For 2-1/2D I use LibreCAD. You can draw 2D shapes and save them as DXF files. Most of what I do is profiles at this point, I don't need full 3D surfaces yet.

For machining I'm using CamBam. I'm still on my 40 free trials. I tried using it under Linux and wasn't happy, so I run it in a Windows VM. It might be usable with Wine though.

As for cost, $150 for CamBam is dirt cheap compared to most CAM packages. I'll probably buy a copy when my free trials are up.

The piece I'm still having issues with is full 3D surface machining. I have a student edition of AutoDesk Inventor (which is awesome) and can output STL files, but CamBam just churns when I try and do anything with them. I'm still investigating this part of the process.
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bobt
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by bobt » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:03 am

This is what I will be using for CAD design.

http://sixense.com/makevr

I have the Oculus Rift shipping any day now!
I also have in my possession a Sixence Razor Hydra controller to work with it.

They are going to be starting a kickstarter on this product sometime this month.

I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!!

I outputs STL files which should be ideal for 3d-printing use.

Bob Teeter
"What Box???" ShapeOko #397

WillAdams
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by WillAdams » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:14 pm

bobt wrote:outputs STL files which should be ideal for 3d-printing use.
But not ideal for milling (we just had that discussion re: OpenSCAD).

I guess we should add a column to the CAD apps table which shows the underlying architecture used for structures:

- polygons / polylines (suited for STL output / 3D printing, usable for milling w/ some reduction in quality)
- arcs and lines (suited for willing and directly converted to G2 and G3 commands in G-Code)
- Bézier curves --- this winds up w/ 2 cases, either interpolated to arcs and lines or converted into (lossy) polylines.
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bobt
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by bobt » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:35 pm

It appears that the new apps autodesk 123d cnc uses a STL file to generate the code for a shopbot with uses gcode I believe.
Also Will what was the subject thread on Openscad. I get the mailing list and it did not pop out at me.

Bob Teeter
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WillAdams
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by WillAdams » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:03 pm

The OpenSCAD discussion I referenced was:

http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=204

William
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bobt
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by bobt » Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:28 am

Thanks Will - I thought that discussion had occured on the Openscad mailing list and I had missed it.


Bob Teeter
"What Box???" ShapeOko #397

AnthonyB
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Re: What are people using for CAD / CAM design work?

Post by AnthonyB » Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:38 am

WillAdams wrote: I've found this aspect so frustrating I've been reduced to hand-coding G-code and have been considering coding up a drawing front-end using Processing.
Well, I'm currently coding up a Python script to handle simple layouts (eg.

Code: Select all

cnc.rectangle((10,10), (20,20), depth=5, offset='outside')
, that sort of thing). It's currently untested, but once I'm reasonably sure that there aren't any stupid errors in it, I can release it, if you're interested. It's pretty low level still, but probably easier than hand coding GCode :)
Shapeoko #1501 - dual-y axis, double x gantry and a Makita RT0700CX spindle.

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