Best CAM option for my situation?


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    Default Best CAM option for my situation?

    Hello all,

    I'm brand new to the community despite the history on the account (I think I created it years ago for a quick questions about a 3040 Chinese CNC I was working with). I recently ordered a custom 3'x4' CNC Router from Carl Bruce to help me pursue instrument making. I'm particularly focused on open back banjos, so we worked together on a very cool 4th axis setup so I can mill 12" banjo rims off the edge of the router. I decided on Rhino 6 for CAD software after numerous recommendations for the flexibility it offers when designing musical instrument necks. I've got a banjo neck about 70% finished up in Rhino and am considering CAM software now. I was originally leaning towards RhinoCAM, which looks great, but I recently realized I'd need at least the expert version ($2,500) in order also be able to do the 4th axis stuff. MasterCAM looks to be about $1700 for the 4th axis capable version. I've recently been made aware of DeskProto, which offers a huge bang for the buck in terms of varied machining options and multi-axis capabilities, as well as the option to buy the hobbyist version for around $300. It seems fairly user friendly with the wizard prompts, but it does look a bit dated.

    In terms of goals, I basically need to be able to carve banjo and other instrument necks with good cut quality and tool pathing control that is efficient. I really want to be able to easily define multiple separate machining operations from a single/complete CAD model if possible (i.e. isolating the fretboard pockets for inlay work, separate operation for fret slots with special bit, machining one side of a neck for the truss rod, then flipping it accurately with fixturing for 2.5D caving of neck/heel profile, etc). I will also be doing 2.5D engraving on banjos rims with the 4th axis, as well as 2D machining operations (like milling the banjo rim to thickness and accurately machining holes for brackets).

    I'm honestly just feeling a bit lost in it all. I know just enough to be dangerous and not enough to really know which CAM options are advantageous over the others. I don't mind dumping the money into RhinoCAM if that's just the way to go here, but if I can get all of the CAM capabilities, cut quality, speed, etc. that I need for my purposes from a cheaper option, I'd certainly consider going that route. I'm a bit concerned about RhinoCam's high price of entry and the lack of support if you don't pay the annual $1k maintenance fee (which I just can't justify). I really don't want to sacrifice controllability or give up cut quality and speed benefits just to save money on CAM software, but that's a huge chunk of change.

    Would love to hear what you all would recommend. I do like the integrated nature of the RhinoCAM and MasterCAM options, but it's not critical to me. I'm definitely up for considering CAM programs not mentioned here as well. Thanks for reading through my long-winded post here and looking forward to getting things up and running here in a few weeks!



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    Default Re: Best CAM option for my situation?

    I've always used autocad and inventor and am pretty well versed in both. I looked at Rhinocam some years back and wasn't overly impressed, but that doesn't mean it hasn't progressed., Out of curiosity I recently downloaded Fusion 360. Like Inventor it has the cam module built in and is pretty easy to use. It Mirrors Inventor in a lot of ways and I was surprised how powerful it was for machining. I also have Aspire and Artcam, but if I was just getting into cad and cam I really think Fusion 360 is a good option. Lots of online tutorials and help. It's import and export options are pretty good. Being able to use the same cad/cam for my mill, router, plasma or even 3d printer is really convenient. The newer cad programs with the built in cam that includes adaptive clearing, roughing and finishing are pretty easy to learn and use.



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    Default Re: Best CAM option for my situation?

    It is very tempting to give Fusion 360 a try. At first, I didn't love how it was entirely subscription based, but at $500 annually, it's not too bad. A few people on forums mentioned they didn't feel like they had as much control over the transitions from the heel to the neck profile and the volute area transition between the neck and headstock. Comparing it to Rhino 3D anyway. That's what made me jump over into the Rhino camp and purchase Rhino. I'm beginning to wish I had tried Fusion first to see if I could make it work before purchasing Rhino. Oh well, maybe I'll give it a try and see how things go. Thanks for your input!



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    Default Re: Best CAM option for my situation?

    It sounds like RhinoCAM would be the best option for you, since you want all those different machining options, and yes, the Expert edition would be the one I'd recommend. You still would get tech support even if you didn't pay for maintenance - that guarantees you access to the latest version, for a calendar year after your purchase. We offer a substantial discount, and you'd get the same support as if you'd bought it direct from Mecsoft, plus whatever help I could give you.

    We also sell DeskProto, and if your needs were simpler I'd recommend it. But with all those pockets, slots, engraving, inlays and multiple separate machining operations, RhinoCAM seems like a better bet for you.

    Andrew Werby
    https://computersculpture.com/


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    Default Re: Best CAM option for my situation?

    It's helpful to get advice from someone who is familiar with both DeskProto and RhinoCAM, thanks! That's good to know that RhinoCAM is probably more suited to the tool pathing/multiple operation needs. I would love to hear more about the discount on the expert version, thanks!



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    Default Re: Best CAM option for my situation?

    Quote Originally Posted by tlgrimmy View Post
    It is very tempting to give Fusion 360 a try. At first, I didn't love how it was entirely subscription based, but at $500 annually, it's not too bad.
    I thought Fusion360 was free for hobbyists and startups making less than $1000 per year?



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    Default Re: Best CAM option for my situation?

    I haven't used the expert version of RhinoCam,just the most basic level and I was extremely impressed by it.It also gives you the advantage of operating with a file in it's original format.I have used 5 axis Mastercam and I am rather surprised at the price you quote for a four axis version-are you sure you didn't leave a zero off?It is a hugely capable package once you find your way round it.



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