Here are my applications.
I am a violin maker working on making my first CNC router. I have little or no experience with CAD, so I'm starting from the ground up.
My two applications are as follows.
Imagine if you will a bowl turned upside down. Though this is exagerated, it is basically similar in geometry to a violin top (or back). The ideal way I would like to design my drawings woul be:
1. scan in a outline of an instrument as a raster.
2. trace the outline of the instrument in a modeling program (x and y axis)
3. establish the longitudinal arch height (z axis)
4 establish the crosswise arching based on the mathematical equation for a curtate cycloid.
5. Flip it over and generate an inside curve such that I am left with a thin shell 4 to 10mm thick depending on the instrument.
5 that should complete one instrument plate, then I just derive g-code from this and run it
The second application takes section of a cylinder (the cylinder is 18 inches high, with a radius of 12 inches, the cylinder section is 18 inches long by about 3 inches wich curved to the 12 inch radius). I want to then depress a design into this surface about 2mm and cut that design (later to be filled in with mother of pearl inlay).
Gerry recomended Alibre Design Xpress 3D Solid Modeling Software
Considering my applications is this the best or is there something better. The only piece of software I have is AutoCAD 2000 which I am starting to learn.
Also recomendations on CAM and control software like Mach3 would be great too.
Now, before you ask, physicall on the router I would cut the outside (convexed) surface from a solid wood block, than place that part into a rigid mold made from urethane plastic that conforms to the outside surface curve, then cut the inside. I do this now with my router pattern copier and there is no flex or breakage in the parts.
Alibre Xpress is NOT the best thing for this application. Sorry about that, but I didn't know what you were planning. I should have asked. I'd say Rhino would be a good choice for this application. www.rhino3D.com
For CAM, either a combination of MeshCAM and SheetCAM, or something like RhinoCAM, which runs inside of Rhino.
www.meshcam.com - for carved surfaces
www.sheetcam.com - for inlay and profile cutting
www.rhinocam.com - will do everything.
You won't find anything better than Mach3 for the price, or even 5 times the price.
Mach3 2010 Screenset
(Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)