There is a lot of information at cnc4free.. the aim of the website is to list all the available free options to cover the widest possible area of interest.... This might cause information to appear a little 'disjointed'.. and that is the purpose of the ebook .. to explain how various software can be applied to provide tested solutions for a range of interests. If that's not close enough to free for you there is always the option of investigating the software without benefit of the ebook.
I did investigate the software without the benefit of the e-book; I suppose that's why I found it so "disjointed" to me. The info presented starts off in the middle of a topic if I remember correctly, or at least there wasn't an introduction to the topics being discussed I don't think. In other words, you pretty much had to discern what was being discussed, and why. I quickly became overwhelmed and disinterested in the information. I didn't become disinterested in the subject, just the info I was looking at.
FREE 3D machining is easy to acheive using Freemill... Content generation for 3D machining is a separate issue entirely...
I tried Freemill. To say that this is a 3D machining solution is to me like saying that a Moped is a viable form of daily transportation. Both statements are true, but obviously once one has experienced either item, the attributes given in the statements seem like "baiting" to me. Or maybe that is too strong a word, I dunno. But I do know I ran the program "out of gas" on like the second project I tried to accomplish (don't remember what it was but I guarantee you it was dead simple).
I agree that the real expenditure in money and effort falls into the category of content creation; much more than I ever thought. But herein lies many "snafoos" and "gotchas" as well. I have tried several programs out that promise ease in generating 3D content from various sources like photographs for just one example. Then once you try it with the automated process, it's invariably a total mess with unacceptable results. I have not found one program that will do that to date.
Now, I'm not saying that this is even possible. How would I know? I'm just learning about these things. But, if you advertise it as possible and offer a trial version to prove it, then it ought to work. But I've yet to see it done. One look at the help or support forums and/or pages of these programs and it becomes apparent I'm not the only one that had problems with results produced with the "latest and greatest" automatic process.
It's only when one investigates why the program didn't produce the results expected that you run into the seemingly bottomless pit of learning the aspects of how the world attempts to accomplish 3D machining and it's lengthy and very segmented and forked roads.
It became very obvious to me that this is still a field where technology is on the move in almost all aspects of the industry. Plus, there are just too many ways (disciplines) to go about it that I think one must choose a strategy that best suites ones goals or/and ability in all terms including ability, machinery/equipment, and purchase power.
It can quickly get away from someone like me who would just like to learn the technology and watch it work at home. But, 3D machining doesn't have to feel pregnant on that score!
All of the 3D content at cnc4free is made using GIMP, gmax (or alternative displacement engine) and a file convertor to get to .STL format. With the alternative being very costly software I think that's not too difficult a solution really... but you do need to have the interest to pursue it...
Hope this helps
Danny (aka Yohudi)
Thanks Danny for this confab and for the effort of your site. I might one day get the e-book and try again. Please be aware that it wasn't the cost of the e-book that persuaded me not to participate. I was afraid that with the presented material being so hard to pickup on and follow coherently out of the blue (for me anyway), I was afraid the e-book might follow the same construction guide. There is no example that I saw of the e-book, so visitors don't have a clue how it's put together and what is actually the thrust of the info. Does it delve into 3D material construction and programs that are available to the hobbyist? Is there info available that actually walks you thru a process from content creation to finish machining? If it does these things, I will be interested.
Just posting this makes me interested all over again. But, realistically, I don't think I'm ready to devote the time it would take, to learn why you can't take a b/w photo, scan it at say 600 dpi, and have a program perform a reasonable translation into a machinable result that actually looks something like the picture you scanned in with out having to "adjust" dozens upon dozens (seems like) variables and parameters. Hell, I might could just "etch-a-sketch" it in less time! Maybe it's time to put the motor handles back on! Just kidding.
I would however be willing to devote a "reasonable" amount of time and would enjoy doing it probably. I do have a small mill and lathe. I have CNC'd my mill, and have been 2/2 1/2D milling for a year or so. So it's not like I can't learn. I've used several iterations of the programs available for hobbyists that you see out on the net, even the Linux platform (which I still use for some things). So, learning about 3D machining of course would seem like the natural thing to do. However, it is very surprising just how "unnatural" it is in reality. In our planetary language, there just isn't an easy way to describe 3D, compared to 2D.