CADs for free comparison


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  1. #1
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    Default CADs for free comparison

    Hello all!

    It's been quite a while I have been here and now I am returning to the hobby (CNC building machines)

    I have never really be keen on learning CAD but nowadays, there are quite a few very good programmes for free available to the hobbyist.
    Right now I have on my machine for evaluation:
    - DesignSparks Mechanics
    - Freecad
    - Sketchup

    DesignSpark Mechanic (DSM) is quite efficient and indeed easy to learn but I find that precision drawings and dimensionning a bit hard to do

    Sketchup made me go mad at one point because very complex drawing features are easy to do, but some very basic tasks are so frustratingly complex to do ( and array of holes in a plate for exemple!)

    Freecad looks promising but I installed it only last night and did not give it a real shakeup as of yet...

    Those of you who use free CAD softwares, what are your tools of choice and why....
    But also for those of you who rejected one or another software, why?

    Curious to see what you are thinking....
    Sincerely, Luc

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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    Fusion 360 is a must and is (I believe) the most common free cad software. The integrated CAM is awesome and its modeling is very good as well. Onshape is also free and very interesting. It is completely browser based so it can be run on very bad systems; there's a beta plugin for CAM but i haven't heard much about it.



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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    Well....
    Fusion is not realy 'free' but at near 500$ US per year and for the amount of usage I envision... free cad is the way to go for me.
    It's not utterly expensive, at about 10$ US a year ( 40 billions Canadian! )
    But thanks for the suggestion anyway!.....



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    Fusion 360 is indeed free. You just sign up for a hobby license, and pay nothing.

    Hundreds, if not thousands of members here are using it for free.

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    I have been using a program called SimplyCam on and off for about 10 years and over the last several weeks quite extensively (bought a new router) :-)

    In basic usage, it is very easy to learn and use. When you get more familiar it is extremely powerful but it does not have the full GUI type of interfaces some of the others such as V-Carve have.

    Although it is not free, it is very inexpensive at around US$60. For 2 and 2.5D drawings it is quite amazing what it can do. It also has an inbuilt GRBL panel that may work with some serial/USB hardware.

    Their web site can be found at:

    MR-Soft Nc Software Tools

    They also have a bitmap to CNC vectorising program (BMP2CNC) if you want to do engravings of pictures or convert things like PDF or scanned images to G-Code.

    I use both.

    You can download it and use if freely without a license but it is limited to 100 lines of G-Code and won't export/save to DXF without a license.
    They are very responsive to questions and their web site has some fabulous tutorials to help get you started.

    Cheers,

    HarryE.



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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    Thanks guys.... thisi is getting interesting!



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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    Fusion is free unless you're using it to make more than $100k in which case you really shouldnt care about spending $500 a year...



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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    In fairness, the process for getting the free fusion 360 licence isn't immediately obvious. Install and run the fully functional trial version for a month, then - when you get hit up at the end of the trial period - you select the free personal or "startup" (for under 100k commercial) option and off you go.

    I need to have another look at FreeCAD - it's had a couple of updates since I last used it and now has (apparently) some basic CAM functionality and improvements on the modelling side. Hopefully it's a little more stable these days, too. But even a couple of years ago it wasn't entirely horrible for modelling stuff to 3D print. And it wasn't #(@*#$ cloud based like Fusion 360.

    The cloud based nature of 360 is biting me at the moment with patchy internet connectivity at one place I'm trying to use it. And I'm leery of Autodesk turning around at some point, when I have this massive library of models and parts etc built up, and saying "We've now taken enough market share from Dassault's Solidworks so no more free ride, thousand bucks a year for everyone."

    Those things aside, though, getting 5 axis CAM, halfway decent parametric solid modelling, assembly modelling with kinematic simulation, pretty good surface modelling, FEA, topology optimisation and generative design for only three hundred a year is insane. Let alone free. They're cranking out monthly updates - it's being very actively developed. There's a massive wealth of training and support videos online with a huge user community.

    Really, for a hobbyist or small shop, it's so far ahead of any legal alternatives - and a lot of pirate options, too.



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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    I suppose the choice of software will depend to some extent on your background knowledge and the work you intend to do.I would like to add a couple more to the list at the head of this thread;I found Qcad a few years ago and it was pretty good although simply a 2D system and has since been forked and become Librecad.Still a capable and totally free piece of software.I know a number of people who use Sketch-up and like it.HeeksCad was heading in a positive direction but with a small developer community it wasn't really moving as fast as some other projects-on the other hand it was doing great things on the CAM side of things and some of that has been adopted by the Freecad project.I am a comparative novice with Freecad and will be trying to learn more as it generates good toolpaths and has amazing workbenches to explore for other work.Not the easiest to learn,just like any parametric system,but if you need to modify a design the benefits kick in really soon.Fusion may be great and probably is-the thing is I remember what happened to Photobucket and would rather use totally free software with no concessions from a commercial developer.



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    Member KH0UJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    Sketchup 8, if you want to go on a "free style" CAM programming, bore a hole with different sizes, cut, precut material, outline cut, contour everything, etc. with just a single tool bit, go back to zero and do it all over again



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    Default Re: CADs for free comparison

    A little head up...
    Now Sketchup is on the cloud! And everybody hates it from the noise I hear on the forums!
    Luckily, we can still get Sketchup Make version from the site... for how long?

    Autocad 360 is also cloud based, it is good in a way, but like someone mentionned, I realy don't like the idea of not having my files with me and the fact that autodesk can pull the plug any day, or start charging indecent prices for it... . They are trying to tell us how much better it is for us to have everything on the cloud but my internet connection is very slow in the country when I go there and I suspect it is actually simpler for them to go this route.

    I started learning FreeCad, it is a bit more complicated to learn but I think it is worth it. The thing is quite practical and useful and I don't care if it needs external software todo the slicing for 3D printing.

    I have checked MR-Soft 'simple-cad' this should be useful when I finish my curent cnc build but for the moment this is not what I am after.

    Thank you all, sincerely, Luc



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    I just took a week to learn CAD last month, now I can do it very well in my job. We need to have the CAD file for laser cutting, we are a solar panels manufacturer from China.



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