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Thread: new to CNC

  1. #1
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    new to CNC

    Been thinking of getting into CNC and looking for advice. I will be mainly doing small marquetry type projects but can't rule out other applications like plaques. I'm familiar with CAD but not necessarily with the software that comes with the machines. How steep is the learning curve for any specific software?

    Budget is around $1k-2K and would like to work from my Mac. Would also like "made in USA"

    I've been looking at the Shapeoko but am open to any and all suggestions from you that have experience with CNC.

    BTW What's the difference between a "engraver" and a "router"?

    Thanks in advance
    Jim

  2. #2
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    In your price range, Shapeoko is probably a good choice, if not one of the best choices. They are also one of the few setups that natively supports MacOS with their OEM software. You may outgrow that design software and move to something like Fusion360 at some point (which is also usable under MacOS because it's browser based) but will still be able to send files to the machine from your Mac. Yes, there is a learning curve, but the software that comes with Shapeoko is pretty user friendly. BTW, you can download the Carbide Create software "now" for free so you can begin learning before you make a final decision.

    (I have a much larger machine and while I do design/draw/toolpath on MacOS via Windows running in Parallels, my machine requires Windoz for machine control)
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 01-07-2020 at 3:46 PM.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    "Engraver" in many cases where CNC is concerned is usually just a low power router Routers can engrave, not all engravers can be used as routers. Most of my CNC's are metal cutters and more "Mills" than routers or engravers (they lack the higher end 20,000 RPM spindle speeds)
    You did what !

  4. #4
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    Do a search on the term "Rotary Engraver" they are the more traditional machines that have been used for decades for mechanical engraving. Vision Engravers is one of the most popular companies if that helps.

  5. #5
    If you want to get into CNC just for fun, consider building your own DIY CNC. You learn a lot, and end up with a lot more "bang for the buck". There are proven plans out there, so you will end up with something that works. I am not a fan of some of the less expensive hobby setups that are ready to go, they are quite limiting (But I do not want to start a debate on that).
    You are going to have trouble with CAM software on the Mac. Eventually Deskproto might support it (they hinted at that on their webpage),but that is probably 1-2 years away. So I think you are probably going to be stuck getting a windows box for CAM. You can also use it to control the CNC if you use Mach.. I know there is a linux software similar to Mach, I can not remember what it is called. Not aware of any Mach-like programs for Apple computers. Good news is that you do not need a powerful Windows box. I have an old machine running Vista which works fine.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the input. I pulled the plug last night and ordered the Shapeoko standard unit.

    Jim

  7. #7
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    You can run Parallels on the Mac, I have not tried your machine software but VCarve Pro 9.5 runs great.

  8. #8
    Just saw they are ablut to release vcarve pro v 10 any day

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Colombo View Post
    Thanks for the input. I pulled the plug last night and ordered the Shapeoko standard unit.

    Jim

    Good for you Jim!! I think you're going to have a lot of fun with your new "toy".
    Plus I understand that they really hold their resale value. So you will be ahead of the curve if and when you ever feel the need to upgrade to a larger machine.
    David

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill George View Post
    You can run Parallels on the Mac, I have not tried your machine software but VCarve Pro 9.5 runs great.
    That works well for CAD and CAM, but not for machine control. I use VCP/Aspire that way for my primary development setup. For the OP, CarbideCreate runs natively on both MacOS and Windows and it's not cloud based, either. Should he need or want higher level software capability for drawing and CAM, that will be still possible using virtualization as you note. Thanks for adding it to the thread!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    About two months ago I bought one of those really CHEAP mini computers. Like $149 cheap. The thing is small, about 5X5X1. 4 USB ports, 4Gb Ram, hdmi, vga, yadda, yadda,yadda.

    Runs Mach3 fine. Runs Aspire fine. Surprise, surprise it also runs Rhino 6!

    Which just goes to show ya, do not put too much stock in "reviews" that common folk write about computers on Amazon. I don't know how many comments I read that were like "You can run small programs, simple things, maybe small spreadsheets but it does not have the horsepower to run graphics intensive programs." ROFL. Rhino 6 is about as graphics intensive as it gets doing this stuff.

  12. #12
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    Ted, you're correct that a lot of the less expensive computers these days have surprising performance. Many are using the same processors now that were previous "top of line" for higher end gear even. If my CNC system didn't require the PCI bus for the control system, I'd have one of those little fanless goobers in a heartbeat for servicing the CNC machine.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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