Well, not really you have sprutcam, onecnc, bobcad, and many other but not around the cost of albre as far as I can see.
I just tried out a demo of alibre and I really like it. The question is "is there a CAM package thats equally capable and as affordable as alibre?
Well, there was a suggestion on the Mach2Mach3 yahoo forum for one user who needed an inexpensive CAM package. The suggestion was MeshCAM.
I have no idea what the software is capable of. But for $100-$150, it is worth investigating.
I use a program called Bobcad-Cam. They list the program for $1000 but talk the salesman down to around $300. Great deal.
meshcam is nice, they have a 60 day trial and you can get cutviewer for 150 rather than 450 from others. version 2.0 is in beta, 4 axis capabilities are in the works. Granted you cant create your own g-code and you cant edit g code line by line from within.
anyone know of a great g viewer?
I bought VisualMill, and VM Basic is what the higher versions of Alibre that include CAM are running.
Its too bad Alibre is giving Visual Mill 3.0 and not 5.0, this was the breaking point between my purchase of the basic versus pro versions. 500 bucks is not worth data management and sheet metal to me quite yet. Any idea of what VisualMill can be had for?
Check out Mecsoft.com.
They list 5.0 for $4K and 5.0 basic for $1K.
If you are considering CAM, I would add OneCNC Express to your list for shopping if you are considering 5.0 basic and OneCNC Advantage to your list if you are considering 5.0 full version. Always best to be an informed consumer.
Be sure and closely compare the features on the different levels of each program, and compare them against what you already have.
I went with VM instead of OneCNC because I already had Alibre and Rhino, and it made no sense to me to pay extra money for more CAD features (and fewer CAM features) when what I was looking for was CAM software.
But if you currently have neither CAD nor CAM, then OneCNC may be a good way for you to bundle things. You could also look at RhinoCAM as another alternative if you need both types of program. Many people seem quite happy with OneCNC. I'm suspect there are no doubt several possible software avenues you could pursue with equal satisfaction.
that makes sense Michael, how do you like VM so far?
Ease of use? and learning curve?
I've only done a few small items due to other things going on. I accomplished them, but with some aggravation. IMO MecSoft needs to do a better job of documentation. They seem interested in answering questions, and they have put out some extra tutorials recently (based on user requests), but too often I run into a data field where I lack the background to make an educated guess on what it is needing to be put in it based on the context.
My guess is that they had the programmers write the documentation, when what they needed was a real technical writer with experience in writing user docs. I get the feel of "this is so obvious, we don't need to say anything about it", when they ought to have gone through the entire program and at least briefly described every single data field.
I've got the Alibre training CDs, and that's what they do: "this button does this, this next button does that, the following button does thus . . ." and I found that approach extremely helpful.
There are real CNC machinists (I'm not) who seem very positive about VM (and RhinoCAM), and it does seem to be pretty feature rich for the price.
I like that their user forum is open to the public, and all you have to do to post is register. The OneCNC forum is open only to customers, and when I asked for viewing rights to it (not posting rights) so I could see what kinds of questions people were asking and the responses they were getting, OneCNC refused. That seemed to me to be a pretty odd way to respond to a prospective customer so I took my $4000 to MecSoft and bought a full copy of VM5.0.
Your mileage may vary.
Thanks for your input,
I compared demos of Bobcam 21.5 and VM5.0, VM had many features Bobcam didnt. The additional feature Bobcad had was import of .step files, but lacked .stl import.
Apples and oranges, though bobcad would have some potential if they added 4th axis capabilities. Also, I dont know if theres a way to view as solid shaded instead of wireframe in bob. There's always a way to work around the lack of features but its so much faster to have them there in the first place!