I know the big shops use the big-ticket items, and some of you may not have
had a choice.
But for the smaller guys that did pro-actively choose -- and I'm presuming
that would be the "affordable" programs -- what guided your decision, how
did you go about it? How important is/was the support? What kind of
support, at what cost?
I'm looking at Bobcad, Rhino, onecnc, in particular bobcad's V21 because
first, it's relatively cheap ($800, which ain't so cheap for me, but it's
not $8,000), AND it seems to have a pretty wide user base -- not
mastercam-wide, but wide enough; Sam I think uses bobcad (which version??).
Altho I've heard lots of slurs against the company. What's up wit dat??
And a comparison chart of their products (product matrix) :
For me, given the mostly 2, 2.5-D nature of my stuff, the cad is proly as
important as the cam -- I think.
I'd like to be able to do prints, esp. the kind where you get standard
front, side, top views, AND the isometric, axonometric views, or some
Gibbs seems to be pretty highend now, as well.
Anyway, all opinions/war stories welcome.
The easiest to lean, easiest to use, and still all the power you need.
Design CAD v22 $49.99
On Wednesday, August 15, 2012 7:05:32 PM UTC-7, Richard wrote:
I agree, I've been using DesignCAD since it's DOS days,I think it's the easiest 2d cad out there.The 3d side is tolerable.
I also used Bobcad in it's DOS version and it was also a very good programme,when they went to Windows GUI,at least early on I found it a pain so I stayed with the DOS until I ended up with Surfcam,and I haven't moved up past 2005 on that,for me I just don't need all the new whistles and bells,same with Solidworks. '07 version on that,although that is starting to be an issue because alot of my new files are done on newer versions of SW and I can't read them,got to get iges files
On Thursday, August 16, 2012 3:01:41 AM UTC+1, Existential Angst wrote:
Buy whatever does your job easily enough and is so intuitive JB can use it. Try to evaluate all those programs on a typical part and judge yourself. And make sure you read the NC code and it looks OK. If it does not then you need to customize the post and it may be hard to do or would cost you extra.
Rhino is a powerful surfacing tool, since you do at most 2.5 axis probably Rhino is an overkill for you.
Regarding CAD, do you want to design using solids? Do your customers provide you with a solid model? Do you need to convert solids to wireframe?
For a cheap CAD program also consider TurboCAD, an older version will be within your budget, I have heard it has a CAM plugin but have no idea how powerful it is. An old workmate owned a personal copy and used it for drawings.
A program that fits your budget will be so simple no support will be required. Just RTFM, the help and What's New file. Support will blow your budget.
you need with any of our products. Feel free to call me at our toll free number
on our website, ext 117.
Thanks. I will if I need but so far it seems everything will got
smoothly. I have used AutoCAD and Master Cam so I am not unfamiliar
with what needs to be done. Just how to do with BC and getting
accustomed to the icons and menus.
On Wed, 15 Aug 2012 22:01:41 -0400, "Existential Angst"
What sort of stuff do you design/machine and what sort of capabilities
do you need in CAD and CAM? Simple 2D/2.5D parts or complex 3-axis or
4/5-axis stuff? Do you need to make complex assemblies, produce very
detailed mult-sheet drawings with Bills of Material, cross sections,
detail views, or other "esoteric drawing features"?
I bought Alibre Standard about 10 years ago while working with someone
that used Inventor. Back then Inventor was $5k or more with $1k or
more annual maintenance and Alibre was a few hundred to buy and $100
or so annual maintenance. A week with the 30-day trial convinced me
to buy. Since then I've upgraded to Alibre Expert (the highest level,
I think) and been mostly happy with it. Alibre was recently acquired
by 3D Systems and there is some concern about how this might affect
future development, but the product is pretty good right now and will
do most or all of what serious hobbyists or small shops may need.
If you have the money (>$5k) give SolidWorks a serious look. If you
have only a few hundred to spend and have modest CAD needs, look at
some of the free or low cost programs. Autodesk had a free 3D CAD
program available for a while and may still do so and I think that
another (PTC?) did as well. These seem to be 1-year licenses that may
or may not be extended in the future.
For low cost CAM (<$300) look at MeshCAM, SheetCAM, or CamBam. CamBam
seems to be generating a lot of positive user reports.
If you are thinking about Alibre and AlibreCAM, give serious
consideration to buying Alibre and Visual Mill (from Mecsoft)
separately. Alibre re-sells VM as AlibreCAM, but it is always a
version behind (as someone else mentioned) and support must come from
Alibre as MecSoft won't directly support AlibreCAM. Reports from the
user community suggest that Alibre has no experienced tech support for
AlibreCAM. That means you ask Alibre for help, they relay the
question to Mecsoft, get an answer, and then must get back to you.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
VM Basic is about $1k and that gives at least some 3D capability.
4/5-axis capability costs another $3-4k, I think. You should be able
to get pricing from NovEdge. The MecSoft web site should have a
version comparison table and I think that they have a limited-time
OneCNC just looks like a nifty CAM package to me, with pleasing
graphics and what looks like happy users, but it gets expensive quick
if you want the more advanced features. Pricing is hard to come by
online, but when I last checked several years back, it was around $2k
to start and >$5k for advanced 3D and 4/5 axis stuff. Were it not for
the price, I'd have probably purchased it, although I never tried the
I bought a Tormach mill and Tormach was selling the highest level of
SprutCAM for around $1k with a mill, back then. They have since
become the US distributor for SC and sell it to all comers through:
There are a vvariety of versions and you can get pricing once you
register at the above site. You can expect them to be much more
low-key than BobCadCam and they will not hassle you.
The version I have SprutCAM Pro, which includes 3D, 4/5-axis, lathe,
water jet and wirre EDM and ran me $1200 or so. Minor version updates
(point level) so far have been free and major upgrades have been
reasonable, a few hundred. Sprut is about to release a new version,
so ask about that if you pursue it. You can get a 30-day trial and
the 500+ page manual is available as a free download.
The downside is that the program is written in Russia and the manual
suffers a bit from translation into English, though it has been
getting a lot better with each iteration. Tech support through
SprutCAMAmerica is a lot easier to understand than it was when it came
from Russia. There are over a dozen tutorials available on YouTube or
through the above site that do a pretty good job of teaching the
basics by taking you step by step through a variety of maching ops
with one project.
Unless you are already very experienced with CAD and CAM, gve serious
consideration to dedicating a block of time to evaluate the trial
versions of whichever programs meet your budget and feature
requirements. You will probably find that the work flow in some
programs is a much better match to your way of doing things than it is
in others. There is nothing more frustrating than being forced to
work in ways that don't seem intuitive to you.
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