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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:52 pm 
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Hi all, haven't posted in awhile, my building has been on hold for the last couple years while I went to school for CAD/CAM. Anyways, I'm lucky enough to have gotten ahold of a K2 CNC on long term loan with a 3x2 table size, and mach 3 control software. I've got experience now with solidworks and autodesk as far as CAD is concerned and am fairly spoiled at work to have mastercam. So with that said, I have an educational version of autodesk right now which I believe will let me export DWG. files, but that's temporary and I have no way to generate G-code except by hand, which is just not going to work for what I want to do.

So I'm looking for either a stand alone CAM software to import into and generate code, or a CAD/CAM package which allows me to render and output code. I currently can't justify the cost of a top shelf software suite, so what should I be looking at right now? I do have reasonable computer skills, but I don't want to get into some low grade stuff that's going to have me chasing gremlins instead of being creative. I might be able to spend as much as $1000, but obviously the least I can spend the best.

Any preferences?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:49 pm 
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Download Vuze and then download Aspire and Mach 3 (cracked) if you need it. Do it at a local coffee shop or something over a VPN. Boom- free. Buy some wood instead. Not that I do that, BUT if I was in your shoes- that's what I would do ;)



These users thanked the author fingerstyle1978 for the post: John Sonksen (Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:16 pm)
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:35 am 
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AutoDesks Fusion360 is an awesome package with built in CAM. And it's FREE is you are a start up or have a turnover under $100K/year. And even if you don't qualify for that (every luthier I know most likely would) there yearly fee is only a very small fraction of what Solidworks and any of the other CAM venders are charging just to pick up the phone.

Very easy to do, and they really are working on making this a better product. There is a very good user support forum run by AutoDesk. I've never waited more than an hour for a response to a question I should have asked right away instead of banging my head against the desk. Most often it was just me not doing the obvious.

And best of all it is cross platform. So if you work on a Mac (as I do) this is the software to use.

As you are familiar with Solidworks or Inventor, this will be very easy to catch on to.

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Barron River Guitars & Ukuleles
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These users thanked the author Allen McFarlen for the post (total 2): fingerstyle1978 (Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:17 pm) • John Sonksen (Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:52 am)
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:17 am 
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Allen,

That is great news! I may actually have that already but haven't opened it yet. When I was downloading Inventor, I grabbed a ton of stuff from auto desk and hadn't gotten around to trying everything out yet.

I'm anxious to get home and check this out, maybe do some tool paths over the long weekend. Thanks for helping me figure out what I already had, would have felt awful dim buying something with this sitting on my computer!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:19 pm 
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Allen McFarlen wrote:
AutoDesks Fusion360 is an awesome package with built in CAM. And it's FREE is you are a start up or have a turnover under $100K/year. And even if you don't qualify for that (every luthier I know most likely would) there yearly fee is only a very small fraction of what Solidworks and any of the other CAM venders are charging just to pick up the phone.

Very easy to do, and they really are working on making this a better product. There is a very good user support forum run by AutoDesk. I've never waited more than an hour for a response to a question I should have asked right away instead of banging my head against the desk. Most often it was just me not doing the obvious.

And best of all it is cross platform. So if you work on a Mac (as I do) this is the software to use.

As you are familiar with Solidworks or Inventor, this will be very easy to catch on to.


That's great info. I have two 27" iMacs and a Macbook but I had to buy another PC to run my CNC and until now I had boot-camped my older iMac to run Aspire. I also have a crappy PC laptop for work that has CAD on it too. Looking forward to never having to use that crap again! Checking out Fusion now. Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 3:46 am 
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They really have set the bench mark very high with their software and business model. They fully realise that the vast majority of the little guys just can never afford the outlay that the competition is charging, but fully embrace them, by making it available. They are also find that the little guys are the ones spending the time giving feed back on features and bugs that are improving the product all the time.

The Cloud version tracking, auto save, sharing, collaboration are something that you just don't realise you need until you've got it.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:09 pm 
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Downloaded last night, already very pleased with this. Love how they let you set the controls up solid works style, going between solid works and inventor made me a little crazy.

Can't believe the functionality they're giving you for free here, there's really no comparison to anything else I've seen.

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:36 pm 
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Would this software replace MACH 3, or be used in conjunction with it?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:07 pm 
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John Sonksen wrote:
Downloaded last night, already very pleased with this. Love how they let you set the controls up solid works style, going between solid works and inventor made me a little crazy.

Can't believe the functionality they're giving you for free here, there's really no comparison to anything else I've seen.

Thanks again!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


What package did you download? Aspire?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:14 pm 
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meddlingfool wrote:
Would this software replace MACH 3, or be used in conjunction with it?


In conjunction with. This allows you to model and then generate the G-code to define tool paths, while the Mach 3 translates the g-code into motion on the CNC.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:15 pm 
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cbrviking wrote:
John Sonksen wrote:
Downloaded last night, already very pleased with this. Love how they let you set the controls up solid works style, going between solid works and inventor made me a little crazy.

Can't believe the functionality they're giving you for free here, there's really no comparison to anything else I've seen.

Thanks again!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


What package did you download? Aspire?


Autodesk fusion 360


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:23 pm 
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As an alternative Rhino + Madcam have an unbeatable educational pricing, if you qualify.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:39 pm 
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So you need aotodesk to creat the shape, which creates a program that gets fed into Mach 3 which tells the CNC how to make the cuts?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:43 pm 
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Fusion 360 is the modelling software. It has integrated CAM in it. It's parametric so that if you go back and modify the model, the CAM knows this and when you switch back to that environment you are prompted to re-generate your tool paths.

Once you have your model designed, you switch to the CAM environment and then pick your machining strategy, tool and areas you want to machine. Finally you generate your G-Code for the machine that you are working with. I transfer that code to my CNC via a USB jump drive, but you could do that in any method that your network allows.

There are dozens of post processors for virtually any machine that you can think of. And yes Mach3 is one of them.

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These users thanked the author Allen McFarlen for the post: John Sonksen (Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:54 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:53 pm 
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meddlingfool wrote:
So you need aotodesk to creat the shape, which creates a program that gets fed into Mach 3 which tells the CNC how to make the cuts?


Pretty much. The way I'm used to doing it at work is you make a model in a cad program and then export it to a standalone cam program which allows you to assign tools and tool paths to specific geometry on the model. From that information you generate the g-code which your control unit or control software used to move the actual tool in the way defined by the cam software.

Fusion 360 has the cad software in the same package as the cam, which has some major advantages, namely it simplifies file management, guarantees compatibility and updates made in the solid model are instantly reflected in the tool paths. Additionally it eliminates the need to setup and optimize two software packages, and it's free! It also looks like the software runs on the cloud so this allows you to run it on multiple devices, cross-platform from Windows to OS X and you don't need a monster laptop or desktop with a bomber video card to run it.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 3:37 pm 
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John Sonksen wrote:
meddlingfool wrote:
Would this software replace MACH 3, or be used in conjunction with it?


In conjunction with. This allows you to model and then generate the G-code to define tool paths, while the Mach 3 translates the g-code into motion on the CNC.


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This does the same thing as Aspire, I'm just more familiar with Aspire. I did notice though that there is no option to import .EPS files which I generate in Adobe Illustrator just because I am really familiar with that software and I already have the CC Suite. How are you running your CNC Machine? My controller only allows for the Parallel port that I have never seen a Mac able to connect to and from what my friends tell me the adaptors don't work either, then they say "see your stupid Mac can't do everything- you still need a PC". I can't tell you how many times I've heard that!

Are you running your CNC off of a Mac??? If so please explain how you've done this as I would love to get rid of the giant tower PC in the corner of my shop and run it off of an iMac mounted to the garage wall. Then I could instal a granite slab for a honing station on the other end of the bench.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:02 pm 
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Nope, not using a Mac to run the CNC. This does not include control software, just modeling and cam. What I meant was you can run autodesk fusion on windows or Apple, but again it has no impact on Mach 3.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:17 pm 
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Using a Mac as the computer that actually drives the CNC would probably be a waste, even if controller software existed. The computer connected to the CNC can be pretty minimal, and will probably get a lot of shop abuse. If you are going to run Mach3 you can probably pick up a surplus XP box from eBay or Craiglist for less than $200 and leave it in your shop dedicated just for Mach3 (and maybe to play music in your shop).


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:16 am 
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You could run your CNC from your Mac using BootCamp or Parallels, but it wouldn't be the best way. I looked at this extensively as I have several Macs around the house. I ended up getting a NUC computer to install Win7 on and run the CNC from that. Still pains me to use Windows though.

Once you get on to how Fusion operates, there is no way you would use Illustrator to generate files. In fact, I go the other way around and export DXF from Fusion to use in Illustrator for use on my Laser.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:33 pm 
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Allen McFarlen wrote:
You could run your CNC from your Mac using BootCamp or Parallels, but it wouldn't be the best way. I looked at this extensively as I have several Macs around the house. I ended up getting a NUC computer to install Win7 on and run the CNC from that. Still pains me to use Windows though.

Once you get on to how Fusion operates, there is no way you would use Illustrator to generate files. In fact, I go the other way around and export DXF from Fusion to use in Illustrator for use on my Laser.


I'm liking Fusion but have only played with it for a day. One thing I'm not getting is turning model to mesh. In other programs like Rhino, Maya, Cinema 4D etc there is an interface that lets you convert from Polygons to nurbs (mesh). I don't see anything like that in Fusion that I can find. I've modeled my bridge in sketch mode for precision. Now I'm trying to turn it into a model to export to Aspire/Mach3 and it doesn't seem possible. What am I missing?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:46 pm 
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I've been playing with fusion as well. It seems that you need to close the "sketch" and open the create body module. There you can extrude a 3D shape from the sketch. Once a rough 3D shape is built, you can refine it using the t-splines. Once that is done you have to exit the body module and enter the CAM module to build your tool paths for export as G code.

I'm trying to help my local community college develop a class on CNC for woodworkers and non-tech craftsmen and Fusion looks very promising. However, I have to admit I'm finding the transition from Solidworks and Rhino to Fusion very challenging.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:21 pm 
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You have several options to create your 3D model in Fusion. The sketch and extrude that you have found. T splines and also surfaces. Your best bet is to follow along with the training videos that are available on the Autodesk website, Forum and YouTube. It took me a bit to get onto the process, but now it's pretty easy.

Here's the link to the learning area for Fusion.

http://fusion360.autodesk.com/learning/index.html

And the YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/AutodeskFusion360/playlists

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:28 pm 
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It's pretty hard to recommend anything else now that Fusion 360 is available. It's really a killer app, and they're going to take over in this space. I used to have a list of CAD and CAM software I recommended, but Fusion 360 an Onshape have whittled that down to two. I can only recommend my other options (Visual Mill, Rhino, Moi3D, etc) if you're going pro now, and even then...

fingerstyle1978 wrote:
I'm liking Fusion but have only played with it for a day. One thing I'm not getting is turning model to mesh. In other programs like Rhino, Maya, Cinema 4D etc there is an interface that lets you convert from Polygons to nurbs (mesh). I don't see anything like that in Fusion that I can find. I've modeled my bridge in sketch mode for precision. Now I'm trying to turn it into a model to export to Aspire/Mach3 and it doesn't seem possible. What am I missing?


I think you've got some terminology mixed up here. NURBS (surfaces/solids) and meshes are not the same thing, they're more or less opposites. I'm pretty sure you're asking one of two things, though:

If you're asking if you can make a solid model from multiple 2D sketches (Top, Side, Front view) which does translate polygons to NURBS, then you'd do it in feature-based software like Fusion by using those curves to trim a solid block of material from multiple angles. You'd be using a feature called Extrude Cut to cut off all the material outside your sketches from multiple views.

To get stuff into Aspire, which only deals with mesh files, you can save them as meshes in Fusion. You can convert NURBS (smooth mathematical geometry) to meshes (triangulated approximate geometry) by saving as an STL or OBJ file. In Fusion it's under an 'Export' menu.

Nearly all CAM software converts the NURBS to meshes when it makes toolpaths (that's why you get interesting polygonal patterns on your machined 3D surfaces) but they usually hide that step from the user.

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These users thanked the author Bob Garrish for the post: fingerstyle1978 (Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:25 pm)
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:43 pm 
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Bob Garrish wrote:
It's pretty hard to recommend anything else now that Fusion 360 is available. It's really a killer app, and they're going to take over in this space. I used to have a list of CAD and CAM software I recommended, but Fusion 360 an Onshape have whittled that down to two. I can only recommend my other options (Visual Mill, Rhino, Moi3D, etc) if you're going pro now, and even then...

fingerstyle1978 wrote:
I'm liking Fusion but have only played with it for a day. One thing I'm not getting is turning model to mesh. In other programs like Rhino, Maya, Cinema 4D etc there is an interface that lets you convert from Polygons to nurbs (mesh). I don't see anything like that in Fusion that I can find. I've modeled my bridge in sketch mode for precision. Now I'm trying to turn it into a model to export to Aspire/Mach3 and it doesn't seem possible. What am I missing?


I think you've got some terminology mixed up here. NURBS (surfaces/solids) and meshes are not the same thing, they're more or less opposites. I'm pretty sure you're asking one of two things, though:

If you're asking if you can make a solid model from multiple 2D sketches (Top, Side, Front view) which does translate polygons to NURBS, then you'd do it in feature-based software like Fusion by using those curves to trim a solid block of material from multiple angles. You'd be using a feature called Extrude Cut to cut off all the material outside your sketches from multiple views.

To get stuff into Aspire, which only deals with mesh files, you can save them as meshes in Fusion. You can convert NURBS (smooth mathematical geometry) to meshes (triangulated approximate geometry) by saving as an STL or OBJ file. In Fusion it's under an 'Export' menu.

Nearly all CAM software converts the NURBS to meshes when it makes toolpaths (that's why you get interesting polygonal patterns on your machined 3D surfaces) but they usually hide that step from the user.


Thanks for the explanation. My experience with 3-D modeling is animation, where it doesn't make a difference which forms you work with depending on what you are doing. Nurbs/polygons just behave differently while modeling for animation. If I am to understand correctly, for the purposes of CAM 2-D sketches need to be converted to what Fusion refers to as "model" mode. What I'm not really getting is how you convert the 2-D sketches in Fusion as this is not a step that I am used to creating. It lets me do everything that I normally do in sketch mode and my 3-D sketch is actually complete. I built it in sketch mode for precision.

Maybe I'm going about it wrong. I'm using splines/lines to cut the curves in sketch mode. Normally in Maya or Cinema 4D I can build a model similarly and then convert it from polygon to nurb if I want. But it has no affect on the file type or the end result. For the purposes of CAM I need a model, not a sketch. I have a complete 3-D sketch for the bridge, I just don't understand the point of sketch mode if you can't convert it to a model seamlessly. I'm sure I'm missing something or still stuck in animation mode from other software but it seems that this should be a simple step to convert a sketch to a model. I'll post my sketch from tapatalk below for reference.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:47 pm 
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Bob Garrish wrote:
It's pretty hard to recommend anything else now that Fusion 360 is available. It's really a killer app, and they're going to take over in this space. I used to have a list of CAD and CAM software I recommended, but Fusion 360 an Onshape have whittled that down to two. I can only recommend my other options (Visual Mill, Rhino, Moi3D, etc) if you're going pro now, and even then...

fingerstyle1978 wrote:
I'm liking Fusion but have only played with it for a day. One thing I'm not getting is turning model to mesh. In other programs like Rhino, Maya, Cinema 4D etc there is an interface that lets you convert from Polygons to nurbs (mesh). I don't see anything like that in Fusion that I can find. I've modeled my bridge in sketch mode for precision. Now I'm trying to turn it into a model to export to Aspire/Mach3 and it doesn't seem possible. What am I missing?


I think you've got some terminology mixed up here. NURBS (surfaces/solids) and meshes are not the same thing, they're more or less opposites. I'm pretty sure you're asking one of two things, though:

If you're asking if you can make a solid model from multiple 2D sketches (Top, Side, Front view) which does translate polygons to NURBS, then you'd do it in feature-based software like Fusion by using those curves to trim a solid block of material from multiple angles. You'd be using a feature called Extrude Cut to cut off all the material outside your sketches from multiple views.

To get stuff into Aspire, which only deals with mesh files, you can save them as meshes in Fusion. You can convert NURBS (smooth mathematical geometry) to meshes (triangulated approximate geometry) by saving as an STL or OBJ file. In Fusion it's under an 'Export' menu.

Nearly all CAM software converts the NURBS to meshes when it makes toolpaths (that's why you get interesting polygonal patterns on your machined 3D surfaces) but they usually hide that step from the user.

Image

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