Newbie to the CNC world

Talk about all things CNC
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Newbie to the CNC world

Post by ryanclark » Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:27 pm

In anticipation of my CNC arriving I wanted to see what everyone's thoughts were on software. I have done a little bit in sketch up and Easel but that is it. I have heard Vcarve desktop is good and Inkscape. Just wanting options for a getting started. Thank you in advance.

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Re: Newbie to the CNC world

Post by WillAdams » Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:58 pm

There are wiki pages on this:

and we ran polls:

2D CAD Tool Poll -
3D CAD Tool Poll -
3D CAM Tool Poll -

which generated some discussion.

I just use Inkscape, MakerCAM and F-Engrave --- trying for just opensource.
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Re: Newbie to the CNC world

Post by DRobs86 » Sat Oct 17, 2015 4:19 am

I use inkscape for design and g code generation. The g code tool works there but it leaves much to be desired.

I also use heeks cnc when inkscape fails me. I've also written some software for pockets.

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Re: Newbie to the CNC world

Post by Estlcam » Sat Oct 17, 2015 7:17 am


Inkscape is very nice for decorative work and art - but less for technical construction where I'd still prefer a "proper" CAD software like LibreCAD.
It's just much simpler to dimension tings exactly with a CAD software.

For CAM have a look at Estlcam.
The most recent version can also be used as CNC controller to directly control the machine.

Estlcam CAM and Arduino UNO CNC controller:

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Re: Newbie to the CNC world

Post by Gadgetman! » Sat Oct 17, 2015 12:31 pm

There are pros and cons for every CAD and CAM package out there.
And sometimes, you'll find that one CAD/CAM package isn't enough.

Some are 'artsy', some are more technically inclined.
Which tool is the best really depends on both the user and the task at hand.

In other words; try them all out and see which one(s) suits you.
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Re: Newbie to the CNC world

Post by kayaker » Sat Oct 17, 2015 9:47 pm

Estlcam wrote:Hi,

Inkscape is very nice for decorative work and art - but less for technical construction where I'd still prefer a "proper" CAD software. . .

Have you considered Fusion 360? All the "technical construction" you could ever want in a piece of CAD software and it's free for students, hobbyists and the like. Also has a very sting CAM component built right into the product (I have not used the CAM part myself to this point but the reviews are positive). Bit of a learning curve if you are new to CAD, but worth the investment.
Take Care,

Jim. . .
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Re: Newbie to the CNC world

Post by AnonymousPerson » Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:05 pm

Yeah, Fusion 360 is reasonably powerful, and it's CAM abilities seem very strong.

It does have downsides though:
  • You must store all of your Fusion 360 designs in their cloud. (no concept of local storage for designs). Apparently this is a feature. :(
  • It's goes through stages of being very buggy. Generally after they roll out new features.
  • If you're used to more powerful CAD packages (eg through work), you'll hit the limits of Fusion 360 in some areas pretty quickly.
That being said, it's a very good option for someone just getting started and wanting to keep things low cost while getting their bearings. :)
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