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autotechsteve
09-14-2011, 12:33 PM
I have been a small time machinist and small shop owner for some time. I do mostly one off stuff for custom cars and what ever else comes my way. I recently have sold a large production order, my first, and made a decent amount at the same time. Did it all on a manual Bridgeport. Well now they came back with another large order. I have decided it is time for a CNC mill in the shop. I have spent a considerable amount of time on CNCzone looking for a solution and I have found a couple of machines that will fit the bill and budget. Now I am on to finding CAD/CAM software to design and produce parts. I would love to have high end software but I am on a budget so I need something around $1000 or less. I have looked at Dolphin and BobCad. Dolphin seems pretty good, don't know about the CAM part. Bobcad has numerous horror stories but the BobCad section is packed with posts so it looks as if it is used by many. I am looking for any one who has walked in my shoes and can offer advice to a guy trying to get a small shop into the new age. Thanks again CNCzone :cheers:
Steve

Mad Welder
09-14-2011, 08:34 PM
I would love to have high end software but I am on a budget so I need something around $1000 or less. I have looked at Dolphin and BobCad. Dolphin seems pretty good, don't know about the CAM part. Bobcad has numerous horror stories but the BobCad section is packed with posts so it looks as if it is used by many. I am looking for any one who has walked in my shoes and can offer advice to a guy trying to get a small shop into the new age. Thanks again CNCzone :cheers:
Steve

Hey there Steve, I myself as a coded pipe welder for over 20 years on the other side of the Atlantic pond:D, with machining background, self employed and adjusting to the world economic crisis:confused: have turned to CNC as a possible opportunity for moving forward.
I’m on my first CNC build converting my Milling Machine to CNC and I have played around with…. ha….. At this stage most of the free CAD/CAM software products over the past 10 months..
So here’s my two cents worth;

Alibre CADCAM 3D solid parametric is a good cheap product if you’re “NOT” interested in “Surfacing”, it’s desktop platform is easy for the non-user like us in the Mechanical Engineering Profession (look at their tutorial videos Alibre, Powered by 3D Systems - Free Alibre Design training materials (http://www.alibre.com/training_support/freealibretraining.asp) ) and with commands like extrusion, boss, revolve, chamfer, radius each all stuff we’re used to in a different dialect in our profession so we can understand when we see it’s result, and it is an easy software to use and learn…… I liked it as a learning platform…… but it is restricted if free-form surfacing model creation is needed/required by you, but download the free software full working evaluation version to acquaint yourself at http://mkt.alibre.com/testdrive .
Personally I didn't like BobCAD or Dolphin CADCAM but again that's only MY impression……. I liked most Vectric products for artistic end products.
You probably have them but here's a list of a few links to start from..... BobCAD-CAM | Powerful & Affordable CNC CAD/CAM Software Solutions (http://www.bobcad.com/)

CamBam CNC Software (http://www.cambam.info/)

PowerSHAPE-e (http://www.delcam.com/intlresp/downloadpshape2.asp)

Dolphin Cadcam, PartMaster CAD/CAM, Hobby CADCAM (http://www.dolphin02.myzen.co.uk/default.html)

Free CAD software * for your DWG files: DraftSight - Dassault Systèmes (http://www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/free-cad-software/)

e-NC FAO La Solution Fraisage Indispensable (http://www.easymill.com/)

Getting Started with MeshCAM (http://www.grzsoftware.com/gettingstarted/)

SheetCam homepage (http://www.sheetcam.com/) (excellent and economical for Plasma CNC)

Home | TopSolid 7 (http://www.topsolid7.com/) (Excellent but costly)



I myself eventually I ended up purchasing Rhino 4.0Rhino 4 New Features (http://www.rhino3d.com/4/newfeatures.htm) 3D Free-Form surfacing and Rhino CAM as it will produce the 3D objects I require.
But every individual situation is different and Rhino may not suit you. Here's the free full working evaulation link Rhino 4.0 SR9 Evaluation Download (http://download.rhino3d.com/rhino/4.0/evaluation/download/)

And again it's only one suggestion for you to start from and you will no doubt get numerous replies from your side of the atlantic pond:)...!

autotechsteve
09-14-2011, 10:22 PM
Thanks you so much for all of the information! After I decided to go CNC I have been swamped with all of the different programs out there. I kept coming across free trial downloads but with so many to choose from it was hard even to pick one to try out. I have been looking into alibre so I will definitaly give it a shot as well as Rhino. I do have a couple other questions.


Alibre CADCAM 3D solid parametric is a good cheap product if you’re “NOT” interested in “Surfacing”,
What do you mean by "surfacing"? At the present time I do mostly custom brackets and the like, nothing to complex. What would be considered "3D"?


Personally I didn't like BobCAD or Dolphin CADCAM but again that's only MY impression…….
BobCAD V24 looked good on the youtube videos, did you try V24 or V23? A lot of people have had problems with the CAM, can anyone out there comment?

Is it important to get a CAD program that is also a CAM program like BobCAD or choose to go separately?

Thanks you again for the help and best of luck to you with the Mill conversion. :D
Steve

neilw20
09-14-2011, 10:36 PM
You have been manually doing the milling.
So it sounds like non complex tool paths, holes etc.

You will never look back if you learn to program manually.
The experience will then help you select a suitable CAM program for your needs.

Do you use CAD at present, for drawing? 2D or 3D.
If so, a compatible CAM program will save on a big learning curve.

How much do you intend to spend on a machine? That is the place to start.

The CAD/CAM, within your budget needs to support the machine(s) chosen.

autotechsteve
09-14-2011, 10:58 PM
You will never look back if you learn to program manually.
What do you mean by program manually? Program in G code? I assume I would not have to have a CAM program if I were to program manually but I would also be limited to the complexity of my parts.


Do you use CAD at present, for drawing? 2D or 3D.
I do not have a CAD program right now. I am looking at a few in particular but I am also trying to decide if I should get a CAD/CAM combination program, if that's what you call it. :confused:


If so, a compatible CAM program will save on a big learning curve.
Will the CAM program be very difficult to learn or is programming in G more difficult?


How much do you intend to spend on a machine? That is the place to start.
I am looking at CNC knee mills. Not converted mills but original CNC mills like the Boss, Interact and others like them. I am trying to make a deal on a Atrump machine with a Centroid control. It is fairly new, appears to be low hours. Bank repo and has been sitting in a warehouse for 3 years. Only drawback is that is has been taken apart and they do not have a way to power it up, so bought as is.


The CAD/CAM, within your budget needs to support the machine(s) chosen.
Do I need to have the machine before I choose a CAM program?

Thanks again guys for helping me learn. Its a lot to take in but sure is a heck of a lot of fun!
Steve

Mad Welder
09-14-2011, 11:05 PM
What do you mean by "surfacing"? At the present time I do mostly custom brackets and the like, nothing to complex. What would be considered "3D"?


BobCAD V24 looked good on the youtube videos, did you try V24 or V23? A lot of people have had problems with the CAM, can anyone out there comment?

Is it important to get a CAD program that is also a CAM program like BobCAD or choose to go separately?

Thanks you again for the help and best of luck to you with the Mill conversion. :D
Steve


A Free-Form Surfacing (think of an umbrella or US Brolly, it has a parabolic surface) and the computer surfacing software basically allocates points and draws in 3D mathamatical space that's the principal and it's just new jargon to familiarise yourself with so don't be turned off by it......i.e. (think of your milling machine and bear with me) a point, line or curve can be projected into 3D space, as once you have a starting point you can project in X,Y or Z axis any measurement or curve, line, etc.. example....draw a line from X = 0, Y = 0, Z = 0......so taking these as your starting cordinates draw the line to cordinates X = +15, Y = +15, Z = 0..... you then have a line at 45 degrees to the X,Y plane resting on the milling table as Z=0 see what I mean..!
Then project a surface from multiple points at the same time Step 1 (http://www.tsplines.com/step-1.html) click on the bicycle helmet tutorial for a better explaination.
To answer your question 2 1/2 D (two and a half D) profiling and pocketing from what you suggest would suffice at present.

And no it's not important to get your CAD and CAM software from the same vendor it helps but most CAD and CAM programes export and import respectively STEP, STL, IGES, DFX, DWG etc. files

neilw20
09-14-2011, 11:07 PM
Try some programming.
NCPlot.com - Tools for CNC Programmers (http://www.ncplot.com/)
All you need is some time, a program, and some ideas.

Here is a straight line, then a circle:


G0 X0 Y0 (start some where)
F100 (need a feed rate)
G1 X-50 Y0 (G1 moves at feed rate to the edge of the circle)
G3 I0 J0 F80 (a 100 diameter circle at slower feed rate)
M30 (end of program.)

blowlamp
09-15-2011, 06:19 PM
Download the demo's of either ViaCAD or its more expensive sibling, Shark, for all of your 2d/3d drawing needs and also CamBam for all of your 2d/2.5d needs, plus 90% of your 3d needs.


Martin.

autotechsteve
09-15-2011, 11:05 PM
Thanks guys for all of the help and insight. I am going to try out the demos and look into programming as well.


To answer your question 2 1/2 D (two and a half D) profiling and pocketing from what you suggest would suffice at present.

And no it's not important to get your CAD and CAM software from the same vendor it helps but most CAD and CAM programes export and import respectively STEP, STL, IGES, DFX, DWG etc. files
Thank you for the explanation. I am still trying to wrap my head around it but I will eventually have the "I got it" moment and realize what it means. I am also looking into separate programs for my CAD and CAM. Seems that they are more reliable that way. Thanks again.
Steve

Andy990
09-16-2011, 01:25 AM
Hello Steve!
I would suggest TurboCad. It has over 25 yrs of development and is a full blown cad program. Imports/exports every cad file type known. TurboCad Deluxe does 2d and basic 3d, but does not export stl file types (but you could use a open source file converter) For XP its $10 at amazon. The turboCad Pro version is $200, and does slt export. I see no point in spending 1000-1500 just for a cad program. ECM2 is a free G code sotware program on linux, (something else you will need) download the CD-Rom install of the linux operating system with ECM2 preloaded at linuxcnc.org, you are going to need a dedicated computer for the gcode anyways, anything 1ghz or better with a gb or two of ram works, but a newer sempron or celeron dual core would work fine.
I would take a look at the $10 Turbocad deluxe.

For $10(XP) Turbocad Deluxe
Amazon.com: TURBOCAD 15 DELUXE: Software

For Windows 7 $35:
Amazon.com: TurboCAD v.17 Deluxe 2D/3D: Software

good luck
Andy

Andy990
09-16-2011, 02:45 AM
Hello Steve!
I think the learing curve is pretty big here, but a good idea. I think you should get an expert to help you setup your cnc machine and probably have an experienced expert CAD/CAM/CNC operator do the cad/cam for your first job, and help you load it into the computer you are going to use to run the cnc for your first cnc job.
It would be possible to learn cad/cam/cnc/electronics while trying to get a first big cnc job out the door, but some local expert CAM/CNC/CAD help at your shop temporarly to jumpstart you, would be very,very helpful, otherwise you might miss time deadlines.

Some people like Mach3 for CAM, its $175
ArtSoft USA - Home of Mach3 and LazyCam (http://machsupport.com/), video tutorials available
or ECM2 for free. No CAD program is easy to use, but you most likely will get a cad file from a customer anyways and load it into ECM2 (CAM) or Mach3 (CAM)..ect, rather than draw a cad file from scratch, but proabably more important is knowing CAM and your cnc machine. You need to know a eneough gcode to correct any errors.

Ask the customer to send you two cad files, One cad file in the customers cad program, and a second cad file they translated to your cad program. Copy the original, save an untouched copy and convert the original to your cad program. Watch for errors in cad translation due to corrupt cad libraries, hidden layers, academic watermarked cad files that are not printable or editible.

Mad Welder
09-16-2011, 06:21 AM
1. I do mostly one off stuff for custom cars and what ever else comes my way. I recently have sold a large production order, my first, and made a decent amount at the same time.

2. Will the CAM program be very difficult to learn or is programming in G more difficult?

3. Do I need to have the machine before I choose a CAM program?



Hi again Steve I agree with Andy’s last post the learning curve is huge:( but don’t be put off every body starts off that way but in a short time you'll think nothing of it:D .....it also helps to take a step back every now and again and reassess your own objectives, and here's a recap on a few of your unanswered points.

1. One off (prototype) products, require time deadlines, and can you afford to waste valuable time learning complex CAD 2D or 3D Solid software products, Andy has a point in engaging the services of onsite tuition but these can be very expensive. A cheaper solution is to really research your CAD software before purchase and have a look at their websites and click their tutorial videos you'll get a feel for their user friendlyness and desktop platforms......

2. CAM programming now a days is now very user friendly as the CAM software produces Tool-Paths then Post Processes and generates G-Code automatically, which you then save as a txt or nc or whatever file type fits your requirements. So your biggest concern here is will the CAM product fit YOUR requirements. i.e. does the software support the quantity of Axis (X,Y,Z,A….etc..) output to produce the complexity of your custom part. In my own opinion (and before somebody say's it's vital to learn it):D it's just my opinion Learning G-Code (off by heart) is not a necessity but to understand G-Code IS really a necessity. A suggestion is to download a copy of G-Code commands laminate the sheets and keep them close to your machine.http://www.technocnc.com/pdf/interface377/09_GCODE%20Commands.pdf and CNC Mach3 G-Codes (http://machmotion.com/cnc-info/g-code.html) but remember G-Code is NOT an exact science as some CNC software controllers may have their own variations.
3. You don’t need to have your machine first as most of the reputable CAM companies will actually generate a Post Processor for you free.

Hopefully this will be of some help to you...:cheers:

Mad Welder
09-16-2011, 07:43 AM
hi again Steve here's a couple of pdf's I did in Alibre a few months ago when I downloaded their free evaluation http://mkt.alibre.com/testdrive, However I myself didn't purchase their software in the end. The drafting isn't complicated it might give you some idea of the difference with 3D CAD as opposed to 2D CAD.
Most of the low to mid range priced 3D CAD will deliver similar results.


My drawings are'nt copyrighted as I was only evaluating the software so you can do what you like with them.

autotechsteve
09-16-2011, 10:52 PM
Hello Steve!
I would suggest TurboCad. It has over 25 yrs of development and is a full blown cad program.
ECM2 is a free G code sotware program on linux, (something else you will need) download the CD-Rom install of the linux operating system with ECM2 preloaded at linuxcnc.org, you are going to need a dedicated computer for the gcode anyways,

good luck
Andy
Andy,
Thank you for the TurboCAD suggestion. I have been poking around on the net and so far I like what I have found. Do I need a dedicated PC for CAM or just if I decide to run a Linux based CAM program?


Hello Steve!
I think the learing curve is pretty big here, but a good idea. I think you should get an expert to help you setup your cnc machine and probably have an experienced expert CAD/CAM/CNC operator do the cad/cam for your first job, and help you load it into the computer you are going to use to run the cnc for your first cnc job.
It would be possible to learn cad/cam/cnc/electronics while trying to get a first big cnc job out the door, but some local expert CAM/CNC/CAD help at your shop temporarly to jumpstart you, would be very,very helpful, otherwise you might miss time deadlines.

Some people like Mach3 for CAM, its $175
ArtSoft USA - Home of Mach3 and LazyCam (http://machsupport.com/), video tutorials available
or ECM2 for free. No CAD program is easy to use, but you most likely will get a cad file from a customer anyways and load it into ECM2 (CAM) or Mach3 (CAM)..ect, rather than draw a cad file from scratch, but proabably more important is knowing CAM and your cnc machine. You need to know a eneough gcode to correct any errors.

That is a great suggestion to find someone to show me the processes from drawing to part . Since I don't even have the machine yet, anyone near Dallas Ga. mind having a new guy look over their shoulder for a few hours? :D
I am going to build the current order I have the old fashon way right now, I don't have enough time to get any CNC equipment up and running before my deadline.

From my biggest customer I get CAD files from him but I also get a lot of hand drawn ideas on napkins too. :rolleyes: So I will need the CAD to bring his ideas to life. All of the CAD files they have are years old and they do not have any CAD design ability at this time. I also do alot of custom parts for custom car builds and those guys don't have CAD in their shops, just great ideas and a need to bring them to life.

Mad Welder, great looking designs and thanks again for helping me to understand different concepts of CAD. Any more progress on the V12 or just trying out the software?

I really like the layout of Rhino, CNCOne and TurboCAD so I am about to jump into the trial versions and give them a whirl. The one advantage I have for me now is for my first 2 years of college I was an ME major. At the time they taught CAD on Microstation so I do have some CAD experience as well as some AutoCAD experience in a high school drafting class. Hopefully its like riding a bike and I can jump back in after learning where the functions are located. Thanks you again guys for all of the help.
Steve

Andy990
09-16-2011, 11:34 PM
Hello Steve
You need a dedicated computer to run the cam program to the cnc machine. Since the machine will run for long periods of time, you need to have a computer just for the cnc machine.
TurboCad is an autocad clone, similar to autocad. Cadcourse.com has training videos for turbocad. The 2d basic one is free! Put your cad program on the computer you use for email and general use.
Turbocad 12 pro runs on Windows 7 64 bit. Turbocad Deluxe 15 runs on Vista and should work on windows 7.
Sherline uses ECM2 on their mills and sells factory complete computers with ECM2 on Ubuntu. Linux is similar to Windows. You download the ECM2 software and Burn to Disk as an "image file". Ubuntu has directions on downloading and burning, but you download the complete Ubuntu Operating system with ECM2 preinstalled from Linuxcnc.org. Use Ubuntu 10.04 version. Get a Ubuntu book at the library or amazon. You probably wont need the book, but its nice to have.
Find an old computer at a garage sale and install ECM2 on it, just to see it.
Take a look at the price of some of these cad program demos before you waste any time fooling with them..they are Expensive!
BRL CAD is free, but with Turbocad you get a 900 page manual, free tutorials on the install disk, and something that is well know and works, Completly autocad compatible, all for $10. Turbocad deluxe is most likely going to do all the 3d you will ever need., if not use last years pro version for $200, beats the heck out of spending $2000.

Andy990
09-16-2011, 11:50 PM
Hello Steve
Here is a review of Turbocad Pro by cadalyst, a Cad trade magazine:
TurboCAD Pro 14 (Cadalyst Labs Review) | Cadalyst (http://www.cadalyst.com/aec/turbocad-pro-14-cadalyst-labs-review-6239)
they give it very high quality classification, A-
I am not trying to sell it on you because I use it, but it works , its cheap, its first class software. Again, $10 Turbocad deluxe is well worth it.
Proabably the most common cad program in small shops.

Andy990
09-17-2011, 12:37 AM
Hello Steve
Use a webcam repeater extension cord (33ft) and a webcam to get people to help you over the internet. If you have a dual core or better you can use a High definition webcam. Use newer (2010 or newer) Logitech or microsoft, anything else will have driver problems with windows. They give you the ability to show your machine, Cam screen, cad screen, your machine audio, your voice and realtime image to someone via msn live messenger (msn is microsoft..it always works..)

Amazon.com: USB 2.0 Active Extension / Repeater Cable A Male to A Female (10 Meters): Electronics

Logitech C250:
Amazon.com: Used and New: Logitech Webcam C250 - Web camera - color - audio - USB

Microsoft Lifecam Show:
Amazon.com: Used and New: Microsoft LifeCam Show Webcam (Black)

Microsoft High Definition Webcam HD6000 autofocus:
Amazon.com: Used and New: Microsoft LifeCam HD-6000 720p HD Webcam for Notebooks (Black)

ps..tons of cad users at Ga tech and in Marietta, cam, cnc too

Andy990
09-17-2011, 12:47 AM
Hello Steve
The best webcam to use in my opinion would be a Microsoft Lifecam Cinema. But for $15 you can get a used-like new Microsoft HD5001 or HD6000. The advantage of the autofocus is you can focus on small parts on your cnc machine to show over the internet.
again ,there HD webcams take computing power to run them, dual core or better, quad core preferred. You can also run more than one if you use different usb ports.

blowlamp
09-17-2011, 07:12 AM
Just to clarify some points here: CAD is the drawing software, CAM is the software which uses the CAD drawing to generate the toolpaths and the G-code.

The software which actually moves your machinery is the Controller Software (not CAM) and the computer on which it is installed, is ideally used for only that purpose.

When you've tried TurboCAD, then try ViaCAD and you should see why I've suggested you use it.


Martin.

moldcore
09-17-2011, 11:55 AM
If you’re only machining a few parts to start I would concentrate on learning how to program the parts on the machine’s controller and save your time and profits for a decent CAM system later when business warrants it . Most, if not all, machine controllers today have easy to use conversational interfaces. Back in the ‘80s that’s how it was done before all these CAM programs came along. Learning G code is a good thing but not really a priority when starting out if the machine has a good controller. I wouldn’t waste your time learning some of these cheap CAM programs, they are cheap for a reason. CAM programs are only necessary if you have a lot of different parts to program or if you have to do complex 3D surfaces. I would get a good CAD program first. Find out what they teach at the local schools.

poster
09-17-2011, 12:15 PM
If you’re only machining a few parts to start I would concentrate on learning how to program the parts on the machine’s controller and save your time and profits for a decent CAM system later when business warrants it . Most, if not all, machine controllers today have easy to use conversational interfaces. Back in the ‘80s that’s how it was done before all these CAM programs came along. Learning G code is a good thing but not really a priority when starting out if the machine has a good controller. I wouldn’t waste your time learning some of these cheap CAM programs, they are cheap for a reason. CAM programs are only necessary if you have a lot of different parts to program or if you have to do complex 3D surfaces. I would get a good CAD program first. Find out what they teach at the local schools.

I agree with the above. I am also a "newbie" and am in the process of getting a CAM program, but only for slightly complex stuff that takes a lot of time at the control, and to prepare for the future. I'm a regular user of AutoCAD and recieve lots of parts in Solidworks and autoCAD, so it makes sense even just for organization of parts that we do often.
But i can say that the centurion control we use is extremely powerful and does not take all that much to learn to become productive. If your only doing basic stuff to even some complex stuff, or even 4th,5th axis, check into the control on the machine you buy, and you may find you won't even need CAD/CAM, but you can always upgrade later.

Also forgot you can install the control software on your comp and program away from the machine. and even verify it graphically

Bob Adams
09-17-2011, 12:30 PM
I have been a small time machinist and small shop owner for some time. I do mostly one off stuff for custom cars and what ever else comes my way. I recently have sold a large production order, my first, and made a decent amount at the same time. Did it all on a manual Bridgeport. Well now they came back with another large order. I have decided it is time for a CNC mill in the shop. I have spent a considerable amount of time on CNCzone looking for a solution and I have found a couple of machines that will fit the bill and budget. Now I am on to finding CAD/CAM software to design and produce parts. I would love to have high end software but I am on a budget so I need something around $1000 or less. I have looked at Dolphin and BobCad. Dolphin seems pretty good, don't know about the CAM part. Bobcad has numerous horror stories but the BobCad section is packed with posts so it looks as if it is used by many. I am looking for any one who has walked in my shoes and can offer advice to a guy trying to get a small shop into the new age. Thanks again CNCzone :cheers:
Steve Hi, If your just interested in make 2D Parts. Checkout my website. You can save alot.
Bob A
CNC Programming Software Tools (http://www.cad2gcode.com)