Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 42

Thread: Beginner CNC software

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio
    Posts
    4,713

    Beginner CNC software

    100% new to CNC and starting to do my research.

    My first concern is being able to learn the software to design projects. Is there a program (FREE would be fantastic) that I can download on my Windows laptop to have a try at CNC programing? Maybe something that would simulate the cutting process. Dont want to invest in a machine and not get the hang of programing.

    Second what is a good model or brand to look into as far as a beginner home hobby workshop. Nothing expensive, just something to get my feet wet and see if it is something I want to invest in a larger machine.
    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
    - Rick Dale

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lehnert View Post
    100% new to CNC and starting to do my research.

    My first concern is being able to learn the software to design projects. Is there a program (FREE would be fantastic) that I can download on my Windows laptop to have a try at CNC programing? Maybe something that would simulate the cutting process. Dont want to invest in a machine and not get the hang of programing.

    Second what is a good model or brand to look into as far as a beginner home hobby workshop. Nothing expensive, just something to get my feet wet and see if it is something I want to invest in a larger machine.
    Free Trial Comparision | Vectric You can do everything but save the toolpaths for actual cutting. Vectric VCarve is a popular cad/cam program for 2.5D work supplied with a number of new machines, which can do toolpaths for 3D models imported from other programs. Vectric has an excellent series of tutorial videos as well as a large userbase and active forum and a generous license/upgrade policy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains
    Posts
    16,309
    Plus 1 on Vectric’s tutorials. They are very well done and free. Start with the basics and work your way through: https://www.vectric.com/support/tuto...ist=the-basics

    There are a lot of “cheap” machines available today. Some are good and some are junk. There is a saying in the CNC world; “Buy your second machine first”.

    Good luck on your research.
    Please help support the Creek.


    The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. - Steven Wright


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Fairfield County, CT
    Posts
    93
    +1 on vectric. There is definitely a learning curve but their software is user friendly and they have great free tutorials/videos. You will need to put some time into learning the concepts, but worth it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    63,470
    I'm also a Vectric user and the 3D cutting simulations are really nice so you can start to get a feel for toolpathing, including order of operation. Their online video tutorials are also very good. Start with "episode one" and work through them as each builds on the previous. With the trial software, you can do the projects on your own machine so insure you "get it" before moving on to the next lesson.
    --

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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Somewhere in the Land of Lincoln
    Posts
    2,422
    Vectric VCarve Pro user as well and zero complaints. Besides the videos they have there are several other youtubers that do a good job hitting many of the features built in. There are many features too. You also have access to a library of clip art and 3D files for free as well. It's the preferred software by a large margin for a reason.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2022
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    340
    May sound redundant by my fellow woodworkers and CNCers above are right. Vectric is excellent. Iím not aware of any free software, but the thing is the software (CAD/CAM) is a very important component at having a good experience with CNC. I cannot recommend Vectric enough. Not only is it powerful and easy to use, there is a wealth of knowledge and users that can help.

    Iím happy to recommend several CNCs but what is your budget? IMHO the super cheap CNCs arenít worth the effort. The repeatability, strength of servos and cheaply made components just arenít worth the hassle. The LongMill Benchtop CNC MK2 is a great machine that you can learn on and grow into. I hear Sainsmart Genmitsu line of CNCs are good. The price goes up from there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    63,470
    Fusion 360 is "free", of course. I think it has a much steeper learning curve than the Vectric software. Some CNC machines actually come with "house brand" software that is functional, but generally relatively simple to use, but limited in features. This is something I like about the Vectric family of applications...from the lowest level to the highest, they all work the same so folks can upgrade over time for only the difference in cost between the levels/functionality and not have to relearn what they already know.
    --

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    8,889
    Another V-Carve Pro user. I downloaded the trial version (which has no time limit) and watched some of the excellent tutorials before buying it. No regrets. It was pretty easy to learn the basics and the simulation software allows you to watch the cutting tool in action, so you know ahead of time if it's going to do what you wanted.

    Here's a link that reviews some of the CNC software available for hobby type users, including free ones: https://www.cncsourced.com/cnc-machi...-professional/

    John

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    2,850
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Here's a link that reviews some of the CNC software available for hobby type users, including free ones: https://www.cncsourced.com/cnc-machi...-professional/

    John
    Thanks for that link John. I've been fiddling a bit (although not nearly enough) with the Carveco software that came with a free year subscription with the 1F Elite I'm still waiting for. I was wondering if there was a comparison of various CAD/CAM packages, how Carveco might compare to Vectric in particular.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    2,850
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lehnert View Post
    ...Dont want to invest in a machine and not get the hang of programing...
    That reminds me of a thought I had a few weeks ago. Question for the more experienced CNCers - do you ever edit the g-code directly or are you making all the tweaks and fiddles in the CAD and regenerating the g-code? Seems like you would want to use CAD for all changes but I wonder if there might be reasons to put hands on the g-code.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains
    Posts
    16,309
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    That reminds me of a thought I had a few weeks ago. Question for the more experienced CNCers - do you ever edit the g-code directly or are you making all the tweaks and fiddles in the CAD and regenerating the g-code? Seems like you would want to use CAD for all changes but I wonder if there might be reasons to put hands on the g-code.
    I will often make small modifications to the G code directly but I primarily use the CAD software (Aspire).
    Please help support the Creek.


    The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. - Steven Wright


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    4,218
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    Thanks for that link John. I've been fiddling a bit (although not nearly enough) with the Carveco software that came with a free year subscription with the 1F Elite I'm still waiting for. I was wondering if there was a comparison of various CAD/CAM packages, how Carveco might compare to Vectric in particular.
    It helps to know some gcode but do your own comparison, download the Trial version of VCarve Pro install and learn. I doubt if there is any compare from your free Carveco and VCarve. https://www.vectric.com/products/vcarve-pro
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , Cloudray Galvo Fiber , WorkBee 1000x750 CNC Router - Mach4 - Windows 10

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Somewhere in the Land of Lincoln
    Posts
    2,422
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    Question for the more experienced CNCers - do you ever edit the g-code directly or are you making all the tweaks and fiddles in the CAD and regenerating the g-code? Seems like you would want to use CAD for all changes but I wonder if there might be reasons to put hands on the g-code.
    No major changes but tweaking at times to the G code. Open in notepad and edit if necessary. I have a 3 head CAMaster and sometimes forget to tell it the correct head I am using. I will correct that most frequently.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    63,470
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    That reminds me of a thought I had a few weeks ago. Question for the more experienced CNCers - do you ever edit the g-code directly or are you making all the tweaks and fiddles in the CAD and regenerating the g-code? Seems like you would want to use CAD for all changes but I wonder if there might be reasons to put hands on the g-code.
    For me...no, I pretty much never edit the TAP files directly. I've tweaked a few settings for WinCNC, but I let Aspire deal with writing the code for toolpath files. Editing is a good method to accomplish things like chaining files, setting up for repeat cuts with just a pause, etc, once you have a file that runs beautifully, but anything you change manually will not be reflected in the original design and files as you surmise.
    --

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

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •