I'm just getting into CNC machining and currently busy drawing my parts in CAD (SolidWorks 99 - old but it's getting the job done so far) and evaluating CAM software.
The most complicated from a machining standpoint I'll be making is a scroll which will probably require either an 8 sided fixture or a 4th axis to do (I've attached a pic). For now I'll probably go with the 8 sided fixture to save money and headaches.
In a cam package, I think I'm looking for the following:
Multi Sided Machining (must have)
Custom Toolpaths - i.e. drawing a toolpath that's not necessarily in the model (nice to have)
Multi Side simulation (very nice to have, possibly must have)
Pencil Line machining or Valley re-machining (very nice, borderline must have)
integrated simple CAD for fixturing and custom toolpaths (not sure? Is this necessary?)
Right now, my top contender is VisualMill but unfortunately, to get all the features I'm looking for I have to go all the way to the Pro version which is around $4k.
DeskProto also looks quite interesting - it's a lot cheaper and gives me just about everything except the pencil line machining.
Finally, I just discovered SprutCAM the other day and it seems to have features that blow VisualMill out of the water at half the price? Has anyone here worked with both? How's the support end of SprutCAM? I hear that mecsoft is great with support hence the high price tag.
Thanks in advance and any input is greatly appreciated. I'll be downloading the eval copy once my machine is up and running (about 3 weeks) but I like to get as much info in advance as possible.