Carbide Create was manufactured by Carbide 3D, the makers of the famous Shapeoko CNC machine, and that's why it was designed with the needs of hobbyists in mind. You can create 2D shapes directly from Carbide Create and convert them to G-code and use them to control your CNC machine. Carbide Create can perform 2.5D machining. For 3D machining, you can use MeshCam, which is a paid but quite powerful software.
In 2D machining, you can move the x and y axes together or independently. In 3D machining, you can move all three axes simultaneously or independently. So 2.5D is somewhere between 2D and 3D machining. Vectric vCarve Pro is a CAD plus CAM solution for CNC machining.
Unlike other CAD modeling programs such as Fusion 360 and Solidworks, which have extensive functions, Vectric manufactures software exclusively for CNC work. This means that there are more functions and tools specific to CNC work in vCarve Pro compared to the others. This software allows you to create 2D and 2.5D models with which you can generate tool paths (CAM) using vCarve itself. Some of the features offered include 2D design, drawing images from an existing photo, Trueshape nesting (for optimal use of space).
The only missing feature in this CAD plus CAM solution is 3D modeling. Although you can import 3D models to vCarve Pro, to do 3D modeling, you'll need Vectric's Aspire software. In CAM, the two-sided machining feature is very useful for machining two sides of an object in a single session. vCarve Pro does not include adaptive milling in its CAM module and that is a key difference from the Fusion 360, which has adaptive milling.
Overall, vCarve Pro is an excellent tool for CAD modeling and CAM tool path generation if you work with wood, aluminum and other non-ferrous metals. Autodesk Fusion 360 is a well-known design platform used to create 2D and 3D designs. The Fusion 360 CAM has an adaptive milling feature, unlike the vCarve Pro, which is useful for milling metals. Fusion 360's compatibility with Mac OS is a big advantage that vCarve Pro doesn't offer.
A key difference between the Fusion 360 and vCarve licenses is that Fusion 360 is a subscription software and you have to pay for it every year. In addition, Fusion 360 is a cloud-based software and you need to connect to the Internet at least every 2 weeks for it to work properly, unlike vCarve, which is not cloud-based. On the other hand, you buy a perpetual license of vCarve Pro and only have to pay again if you want a version upgrade with new features. Fusion 360 has good technical support from Autodesk that provides you with resources to learn the software.
Fusion 360 is for users who want access to advanced CNC machining features and don't care about the learning curve involved in mastering it. Can design 2D and 3D models. However, you'll need a Windows PC to run SOLIDWORKS. Coming from the creators of Fusion 360, AutoCAD is a well-known CAD software that supports 2D and 3D modeling.
For a Windows PC, you might need a Windows 10 or 8.1 64-bit PC, a processor with at least 2.5 GHz, 8 GB of RAM and 1 GB of graphics memory. Controller software and motion controllers cannot read 2D or 3D design files. The design file must be converted into direction and speed commands called G-code. Although there are CAD plus CAM solutions such as Easel and vCarve Pro, the use of dedicated CAM software has its advantages.
MeshCam accepts STL and DXF files from all 3D CAD programs. If you have a 2D file, MeshCam allows you to load the file into it and extrude the 2D drawing into a 3D model. These 3D files are then used to generate the tool path. A very popular feature of MeshCam is that it can convert a JPEG image into a machinable 3D file.
Which makes things much faster by not having to model it first in CAD. Although the single license is intended for a single user, MeshCam allows you to install it on up to 3 computers. The Nomad 3 CNC milling machine from Carbide3D uses MeshCAM as its default CAM software for 3D models. If you're not sure if MeshCam is the right choice for you, they offer a 15-day free trial for their software.
In addition, many users prefer MeshCAM for 3D milling, while CAMBAM is preferred if the primary use is 2D and 2.5D milling. Estlcam allows you to generate 2D and 3D tool paths, eliminating all the complexities for quick operation. Mach 3 is a control software that you can install on a 32-bit Windows PC to control the movements of your CNC machine through a graphical user interface. You can import the G-code from your CAM software to Mach 3 to machine it or use the LazyCAM plug-in to convert DXF, BMP, JPG and HPGL to G code.
With the LazyCam add-on, Mach3 can be called a CAM plus control software that does everything except CAD modeling. For Mach3 to work, the computer must be connected to the CNC using a parallel port cable. Cannot be connected directly to the CNC via USB when running Mach3 (unlike GRBL). This is because Mach3 runs in real time and USB doesn't support real-time access.
In the absence of the connection board, Mach3 converts the host computer into the motion controller. The Mach 3 can control a maximum of 6 axes and is compatible with several connection plates. Mach 3 is a paid software, but you can use the demo version, which has several limitations in terms of functions and the number of lines of code. Mach 3 has a large user base.
So, you'll be able to find solutions to most of your problems online. However, official Mach 3 updates have been stopped. It has a better graphical user interface than Mach 3 and can handle large files. Therefore, Mach 4 requires 512 MB of video card and 1 GB of RAM.
A detailed comparison between Mach3 and Mach4 can be found here: Mach3 vs Mach4 for LinuxCNC CNC CNC control has been around for a long time and has been used to develop other software, such as the Mach 3 software on this list. Like Mach3, LinuxCNC turns the host PC into the motion controller and doesn't necessarily need a connection board. If you want to connect this controller to a parallel port stepper controller such as the Gecko, you must purchase the DB25 adapter sold by PlanetCNC. The interface with the controller is via USB.
However, it can only support a maximum of 3 axles. GRBL is an open source firmware that controls the Arduino ATmega328P boards (Arduino Uno). GRBL currently only allows the control of up to 3 axes and that is a limitation of this firmware. GRBL_HAL and GRBL_ESP32 are variations of GRBL that have been developed for 32-bit boards, unlike GRBL, which only works with 8-bit boards.
Almost all 3018 CNCs available on the market use the combination GRBL and UGS as control software. The best-known CNC brands that use GRBL-based controllers include Carbide 3D, BobsCNC, Openbuilds and Spark Concepts. If you intend to perform basic milling operations, a 2D CAD will suffice, while if you plan to carve 3D relief on wood, you will need 3D design software such as Solidworks or AutoCAD. However, even perpetually licensed software can charge you for version updates, such as the Vectric vCarve Pro.
In addition to its complete set of 2D design and layout tools, vCarve Pro also allows you to create 2.5D tool paths, from carving and molding prisms to textures and stretch marks. It also allows the import and machining of individual 3D models. In short, vCarve Pro is one of the most user-friendly and versatile options for V-carving in the industry today, and is a reliable choice for professionals and beginners. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, which means that a computer controls what the machine does, including, but not limited to, spindle speed, feed speed and position.
To program the computer, often called control, a person can use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. CAM software generates a series of instructions called tool paths and then generally uses a post-processor to translate tool path data into code that the machine can read. Then, a person would transfer that code to the machine and execute it to produce its final part. Fusion 360 is a great platform known for creating 2D and 3D designs.
The software can manage CAD and CAM software functions. In addition, it has a G-code editor. LinuxCNC is a control software developed using the open source Linux platform and is therefore a free CNC software. These software programs perform the process of sending the G code, as well as interpreting the G code to emit signals for the movement of the motor.
We recommend an online CAD software package if this is your first time using CAD, as this means you won't need to buy an expensive, high-spec computer; all calculations are cloud-based. While CAD is used to create and modify designs on a computer, CAM software is used to facilitate the manufacture of workpieces using computer-controlled machines, such as CNC routers and plasmas. I strongly believe that the community should be your first consideration when selecting your CAD software. And for the same reasons, it's ideal for 2D CNC cutting, since vectors work perfectly for CNC sign cutting and other projects with text and image designs.
If you're looking to produce parts for CNC machining, you'll first need to know how to create a CAD file. Easel, an online CNC software, frees you from downloading and running software continuously, as well as allowing you to easily store your designs and changes in the cloud. You should consider the functions needed to create the product and see if free software can provide them. While there is free CNC software that can be used by anyone, some of the best programs can cost hundreds of dollars, so you should find a program that fits your budget.
You can map out different machining strategies within the software, from V-bit carving, drilling, 2D area cleaning, inlays and more, and select from a wide range of custom tools and machines, choosing their speeds and speeds. Whether you're new to CAD or an experienced professional, finding an easy-to-use CAD package will save you valuable time designing your parts. If you can draw all those elements in every CAD package you're evaluating (or similar things you want to draw), you've already done your homework. Making sure that the CAD package you choose has good documentation and a strong user community will certainly help you when you start thinking about a particular feature of the software.