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  • CNC Software Q's

    I am new to the world of CNC, and I have questions as I am nearing the completion of my first CNC router project. I know I will basically need three programs to design, convert to G Code, and Control the steppers.

    I want to get recommendations on what software to purchase for each of these tasks. My background is limited or none, so I am a clean slate. I would like to purchase once, by this I mean I would like to buy a comprehensive package that will allow me to grow into it. I will initially be designing home speaker enclosures, but at some point I would like to be able to do 3d work without having to learn another software package. I want to be cost conscious, but I also don't want to have to upgrade in a year and learn a new program.

    Given my objectives, what recommendations can you guys offer?

    Thanks
    Jeff

  • #2
    I think Mack 2 will do all and its free.
    http://www.artofcnc.ca/
    A lot of people that are building there own are using it.
    Stephen

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    • #3
      Bobcad wasted a year for me. They ended up giving me a refund after I sicc'ed the better business bureau on them. Not that I'm mad. If I had spent "that" time learning Master cam I'd be a mile ahead.

      I got Mastercam now.
      There are free dxf to gcode "ace" convertors out there. I have used them for 2d.. If all you are doing is cut-outs? I'd use turbocad, or one of the near free cad programs. Mach3 will cut JPG's too, thou I never have.

      I have Mach3 on my cnc mill. I also can run turbocnc and EMC on it. When I first built it I made things too complicated, since simplified it.

      ONE MORE program to consider, a gcode simulator. I had MCU cut on this machine, they have a trial.. it actually machines your gcode in 3d right in front of you. Download thier trial and play with it.. I think it is $150 for a license to run it.
      Excuse me, I farted.

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      • #4
        How much do you want to spend? And the next question, how much can you spend?

        Mach 2 may work for you, I don't know though, most cheap or free cad cam programs really suck, but then again I am spoiled and used to a high dollar one. Whatever you do get ,dont buy bobcad.

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        • #5
          The "programs to design, convert to G Code" would be CAD/CAM. Could be separate programs or both bundled together.

          What you need will partially determine what to get. Can you get by with only 2D cutting or will you be doing fancy 3D contouring? The skys the limit when you get into 3D.

          An interesting thing about "needs". Hobbiests sometimes have a need for more sophisticated software than your average commercial shop. The hobby guy may want to do 3D contouring to make an unusual piece. What self respecting CNC builder is going to satisfied doing the simple stuff us guys with production do. In my shop 99% of the bucks come from simple 2D work.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the replys. I am looking at this as a long term investment. Now by that I don't want to spend $5K on solidworks, but I am willing to pony up once $500- $1000 to get a nice program that will allow me to do 3d work. I am pretty young, and I would like to get a CAD program that will allow me to grow into it. Beyond that I just dont want to get stuck having to learn several different programs over the next several years.

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            • #7
              Yeah, I learned GWbasic as a programming language.. HA... Six languages ago..

              They will all change. You will not be able to keep anything.

              I remember Autocad 4.. Then I graduated up to autocad 7.. then.. 14..

              Excuse me, I farted.

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              • #8
                Check out the Mach video tutorials, they are pretty good:

                http://www.machsupport.com/

                You'll see what its like to use at least one program.

                Best,

                BW
                ---------------------------------------------------

                http://www.cnccookbook.com/index.htm
                Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:
                http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCGWizard.html

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