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Forum topic by MontanaWC posted 02-11-2019 07:07 PM 725 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MontanaWC

1 post in 162 days


02-11-2019 07:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cnc router autocad

Greetings, I am new to the community. I just purchased a 4’x8’ cnc router and am looking for some software recommendations. I am a furniture guy looking to design and manufacture simple office furniture (conference tables, desks, worktables etc) as my main use. I would also like to get into some cabinetry and guitar design work as well. I plan on purchasing a 3d laser scanner in the near future to replicate some guitar bodies I have so any software that can incorporate that would be awesome.

I haven’t used a cad program since high school, (now 36yrs old) so I will need a class to get familiar with all the technology. I am located in Northern NJ if anyone has a class they know of, pls advise.

thank you in advance for the help.

Jordan


10 replies so far

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

475 posts in 1010 days


#1 posted 02-11-2019 08:41 PM

Inside AutoCAD is the standard text & program.
Mach3 is the freeware cnc software.
Converting from cad to GCODE (the cnc language) is the tricky part. Initially it can be done by hand but in a production shop it limits production and makes the software side fragile. Fortunately if you export the cad as a DXF (Drawing eXchange Format) ASCII file then you can get the conversion to GCODE to fully automate with a little light coding.
M

View RickKr's profile

RickKr

18 posts in 194 days


#2 posted 02-11-2019 09:36 PM

You should take a look at AutoCAD’s Fusion 360. It is 3D CAD/CAM software that can generate G-code.

I’ve been using 2D CAD programs since the late 1980s, first with the professional AutoCAD and then with the “home-user” type stuff, mostly from AutoCAD. I’m currently using AutoSketch, which is a very “dumbed down” program from AutoCAD, but it is not supported anymore and I am pretty sure it does not interface with CAM or CNC. I have had TurboCAD for a decade or so, but have never gotten over the learning curve to where I was comfortable using it.

I recently was dealing with cutting gears from Baltic birch plywood (BBP) and MDF and ended up having a set of one of each of three sizes cut by CNC router in BBP and I used those to “clean up” the MDF gears that I had bandsawed and sanded. The guy who helped me with the CNCing first got me started with Fusion 360 because that is what he uses for drafting/design and converting to G-code and defining toolpaths.

I was struggling with Fusion 360 at first because it is so different than what I was used to with 2D. I had to learn a whole new language almost, but it is actually pretty easy. One thing that really helped me were some tutorials by Lars Christensen.

I have since bought a “lesson book” to start from the beginning to learn design and drafting using Fusion 360. I have wanted to get into 3D modeling, and tried SketchUp when it first came out and have tried it in TurboCAD 2D/3D ver. 18 but none took hold. But, I am liking the book, although it is going slow, only because of how busy I am in general.

Fusion 360 is free for home/hobby/students users but requires a license for businesses with $100 or more gross income (or something like that – see the links on how to buy it).

Rick

-- If you want nice clean, fresh oats, you must pay a fair price. However, if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse, that comes at a lower price.

View Balloonengineer's profile

Balloonengineer

9 posts in 3606 days


#3 posted 02-21-2019 06:16 AM

Autocad is NOT used by a large number of CNC Router owners. Fusion 360 is being used more (and free for hobbyists and startups earning under $100K). There are many specialty cabinet design software programs used, but mainly by larger cabinet shops, and most are very pricey.

Mach3 is NOT free (although widely pirated, especially with Chinese import machines) and is a machine control program. I consider it deprecated as it has not been updated since 2012 and is having issues on computers with current OS versions. If you do not have a machine control program, consider Mach4 instead.

Most hobbyists with a 4×8 machine are using special purpose CNC router CAD/CAM software like Vectric Vcarve or Aspire. Another program in this space is ArtCAM, which is not currently available, but coming back soon under a new name and owner, Carveco.com. I suggest you download the free demo version of Vcarve and see if it will meet your requirements, as it is the easiest to use for items like 3d carvings, signs and similar. You should also download Fusion 360 as it will be useful for drawing full up furniture pieces, and cutting them (it has a CAM module to generate g-code for your router). The new ArtCAM version should be released within the next two weeks.

You may find a quality 3d scanner costs as much or more than your CNC. There are lots of guitar profiles available already for free. If you are on Facebook I know there is a group for Fusion 360 Luthiers, and many other Luthier groups to check out.

A good book discussing the flat pack style furniture is
https://www.amazon.com/Design-CNC-Furniture-Fabrication-Technique/dp/1457187426/

-- Tubular latex pressure vessel configuration engineer

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10648 posts in 4474 days


#4 posted 02-28-2019 10:30 PM



You should take a look at AutoCAD s Fusion 360. It is 3D CAD/CAM software that can generate G-code.

I ve been using 2D CAD programs since the late 1980s, first with the professional AutoCAD and then with the “home-user” type stuff, mostly from AutoCAD. I m currently using AutoSketch, which is a very “dumbed down” program from AutoCAD, but it is not supported anymore and I am pretty sure it does not interface with CAM or CNC. I have had TurboCAD for a decade or so, but have never gotten over the learning curve to where I was comfortable using it.

I recently was dealing with cutting gears from Baltic birch plywood (BBP) and MDF and ended up having a set of one of each of three sizes cut by CNC router in BBP and I used those to “clean up” the MDF gears that I had bandsawed and sanded. The guy who helped me with the CNCing first got me started with Fusion 360 because that is what he uses for drafting/design and converting to G-code and defining toolpaths.

I was struggling with Fusion 360 at first because it is so different than what I was used to with 2D. I had to learn a whole new language almost, but it is actually pretty easy. One thing that really helped me were some tutorials by Lars Christensen.

I have since bought a “lesson book” to start from the beginning to learn design and drafting using Fusion 360. I have wanted to get into 3D modeling, and tried SketchUp when it first came out and have tried it in TurboCAD 2D/3D ver. 18 but none took hold. But, I am liking the book, although it is going slow, only because of how busy I am in general.

Fusion 360 is free for home/hobby/students users but requires a license for businesses with $100 or more gross income (or something like that – see the links on how to buy it).

Rick

- RickKr

I TOO have been watching & studying Lars Christensen videos… primarily, for starters, his Wood Box and Drawer Dovetail videos… to do a simple Shop Work Table… So Far, I cannot get it to anything GOOD… Very frustrating… I setup Parameters so I can modify them to create plans for other tables of different sizes, etc. I have gone through 2 very frustrating sessions… I am about to Delete Everything I have tried… and start NEW…
I will let y’all know how it goes… This is a very Frustrating program, for me, so far… I think I’m taking the wrong approach, somehow… Later…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php

View RickKr's profile

RickKr

18 posts in 194 days


#5 posted 03-01-2019 01:09 AM


...snip…
I have since bought a “lesson book” to start from the beginning to learn design and drafting using Fusion 360. I have wanted to get into 3D modeling, and tried SketchUp when it first came out and have tried it in TurboCAD 2D/3D ver. 18 but none took hold. But, I am liking the book, although it is going slow, only because of how busy I am in general.
...snip…
- RickKr

I TOO have been watching & studying Lars Christensen videos… primarily, for starters, his Wood Box and Drawer Dovetail videos… to do a simple Shop Work Table… So Far, I cannot get it to anything GOOD… Very frustrating… I setup Parameters so I can modify them to create plans for other tables of different sizes, etc. I have gone through 2 very frustrating sessions… I am about to Delete Everything I have tried… and start NEW…
I will let y all know how it goes… This is a very Frustrating program, for me, so far… I think I m taking the wrong approach, somehow… Later…

- Joe Lyddon

Joe,

It took me quite a few tries before I finally got there. I deleted everything I had done many times. It was very frustrating. All I can say is ya gotta stick with it. It took me between a dozen and two dozen sessions.

Have you looked at getting an instructional book? I am liking the one I posted the link to, above, but have stalled out on working on it because there is just so much other stuff to do. I recently got a new table saw, so have been off figuring it out and studying up on crosscut/miter sleds, etc.

In regard to Lars’ tutorials, or any other probably for that matter, I think they don’t provide many of the fundamentals. I was able to bull it through referencing Lars’ videos on the project I had, but it is clear to me, from starting with the instruction book, that there is a whole different way of dealing with things that takes a lot of re-learning.

Rick

-- If you want nice clean, fresh oats, you must pay a fair price. However, if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse, that comes at a lower price.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10648 posts in 4474 days


#6 posted 03-01-2019 10:15 PM


...snip…
I have since bought a “lesson book” to start from the beginning to learn design and drafting using Fusion 360. I have wanted to get into 3D modeling, and tried SketchUp when it first came out and have tried it in TurboCAD 2D/3D ver. 18 but none took hold. But, I am liking the book, although it is going slow, only because of how busy I am in general.
...snip…
- RickKr

I TOO have been watching & studying Lars Christensen videos… primarily, for starters, his Wood Box and Drawer Dovetail videos… to do a simple Shop Work Table… So Far, I cannot get it to anything GOOD… Very frustrating… I setup Parameters so I can modify them to create plans for other tables of different sizes, etc. I have gone through 2 very frustrating sessions… I am about to Delete Everything I have tried… and start NEW…
I will let y all know how it goes… This is a very Frustrating program, for me, so far… I think I m taking the wrong approach, somehow… Later…

- Joe Lyddon

Joe,

It took me quite a few tries before I finally got there. I deleted everything I had done many times. It was very frustrating. All I can say is ya gotta stick with it. It took me between a dozen and two dozen sessions.

Have you looked at getting an instructional book? I am liking the one I posted the link to, above, but have stalled out on working on it because there is just so much other stuff to do. I recently got a new table saw, so have been off figuring it out and studying up on crosscut/miter sleds, etc.

In regard to Lars tutorials, or any other probably for that matter, I think they don t provide many of the fundamentals. I was able to bull it through referencing Lars videos on the project I had, but it is clear to me, from starting with the instruction book, that there is a whole different way of dealing with things that takes a lot of re-learning.

Rick

- RickKr

I think my Thinking needs to change…
I think of defining all of the Parts (like cutting out all of the Parts to get ready to assemble)
... and then put them together…

It appears that I should maybe Define, upfront, the Components (parts), using Params, etc.
BUT, when it gets down to DOING IT, instead of the traditional woodworking assembly,
We start with ONE Component… a main one…
... draw/define it… Then, select a Component that connects to THAT component, further Define it and Connect It to the first Component… when that is fully defined, Select another Component, etc. etc.
Then possibly Build an Assembly Jointing all components…
Then, maybe adding to That assembly… to… (???)

It’s so easy for my brain to get scrambled & confused… but, I think ONE key is to Build as you go… changing the way of Thinking about it…

You really think the BOOK does a good job of doing that?

I hope to get to it today… hope so anyway!

Links that I like:
A simple wooden box using Params
The Drawer Dovetailed series

Later…

Thank you for your help!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php

View Desert_Woodworker's profile

Desert_Woodworker

1833 posts in 1637 days


#7 posted 03-02-2019 01:57 AM

I question a person who would purchase a 4×8 CNC without an understanding of how to make it perform?
What type of CNC and cost? Should you want to add…
Welcome to LumberJocks

-- Desert_Woodworker

View ErikF's profile

ErikF

647 posts in 2666 days


#8 posted 03-02-2019 12:39 PM



I question a person who would purchase a 4×8 CNC without an understanding of how to make it perform?
What type of CNC and cost? Should you want to add…
Welcome to LumberJocks

- Desert_Woodworker

I bought an industrial CNC off craiglist with zero understanding of how the thing worked, how to use CAD/CAM software, I didn’t even know what g-code was.

It now runs many hours a day and I have retrofitted a second machine. What is the value in questioning someones purchase after it’s made? He’s doing the right thing…hunting for knowledge.

MontanaWC

I use Fusion360 as my design software. It’s a solid program, I use it on a daily basis. Most “issues” I find in the programs are actually issues with me and my lack of understanding. Answers are easy to find online- there is an active Autodesk forum.

I use Mach3 to control my router. My largest programs run around 300,000 lines of code, Mach handles it just fine. It’s hard to beat for the price. Mach3 is dated but it has a lot of features that aren’t available with other controllers. It is by far the most popular controller for DIY machines and small shops, it’s easy to interface with, and there are a TON of compatible hardware parts available. Another plus, active forums.

If you need any info, send me a message.

-- Power to the people.

View SignWave's profile

SignWave

472 posts in 3457 days


#9 posted 03-02-2019 09:08 PM

If you’re talking about a 4’x8’ CNC, then I am guessing that the majority of the work will be sheet goods or thin-ish boards, so this is more 2.5D. Fusion 360 can certainly do this, but given the learning curve, it might be overkill, depending on what you want to do.

As @Balloonengineer mentioned, something like Vcarve or Aspire might be a closer match.

I have only had my MPCNC running for a few weeks, but I’ve been using Estlcam to create tool paths (gcode) from SVG files for this kind of work. (My machine can print gcode directly from an SD card.) I was already comfortable creating 2D vector based designs, so it was pretty quick for me to get going. I’m not sure that I’d recommend this path for someone who didn’t already have a way to create the SVG files, though, since it would require learning two different programs.

-- Barry, http://BarrysWorkshop.com/

View Desert_Woodworker's profile

Desert_Woodworker

1833 posts in 1637 days


#10 posted 03-02-2019 10:12 PM

I question a person who would purchase a 4×8 CNC without an understanding of how to make it perform?
What type of CNC and cost? Should you want to add…
Welcome to LumberJocks

- Desert_Woodworker

I bought an industrial CNC off craiglist with zero understanding of how the thing worked, how to use CAD/CAM software, I didn t even know what g-code was.

It now runs many hours a day and I have retrofitted a second machine. What is the value in questioning someones purchase after it s made? He s doing the right thing…hunting for knowledge.
- ErikF


Best to you both
. But this is a “forum” and people express their counter options- Buckaroo, you are questing me for stating my thoughts on OP’s post. Yet all you say is bupkiss!

Let me add, to my original post-
Would you buy a car without knowing what it is all about?

-- Desert_Woodworker

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