new guy with CNC questions
Hey everybody. Hope this winter is treating you well. Now that I’ve been frozen out of my shop for a while I’ve been nosing around the net for some new ideas and came across what was probably a more popular art form in the 70s, but is still quite captivating….parametric wall art design (pic below)…which of course led quickly to studying the gorgeous CNC machines that produce these designs and their associated software.
I like the tiling feature the X Carve Pro offers but I haven’t read about it being offered on any other CNC machine. What Inventables calls ’tiling’ is where you can cut pieces larger than your CNC table by sliding your wood/material through and let it do one section at a time.
1) Is there any way to make the AVID PRO 510 do this tiling function or is this something only Xcarve has right now?
2) V Carve Pro is SO expensive! Is there ANY way to get it cheaper than it’s retail price? I’ve seen where you can get an activation code if you’re part of an educational group, so wonder if that could be cheaper. Also, would be nice to be able to split a subscription with someone.
3) I believe I’ve seen where Fusion 360 was suggested as a good program to use if you’re working with parametric designs. Any opinions on this?
4) And last, I’m still searching for the best forum to ask these kinds of CNC and software questions. If there’s a more appropriate place than here please do let me know.
I entered the CNC world 1 year ago with the smallest machine offered by NextWave, the SD100. It has a cutting area of 12 inches by 13 inches by 3 inches high and comes with Vcarve Desktop software.
Even this relatively inexpensive machine does tiling, though I've not used that function yet. I'm pretty sure tiling is in the software, not whatever machine you own.
Vcarve Desktop software does tiling and is half the price of Vcarve Pro and might work for you. Although Vcarve Desktop software is limited to a cutting area of 24 inches wide by 24 inches long, the tiling function should allow virtually unlimited length in 24 inch increments.
Vectric has a pretty good CNC forum for questions about their software. I'm pretty sure you can join without first purchasing Vectric software. https://www.vectric.com
Also, Vectric has a software trade in program. If you outgrow Vcarve Desktop and want to upgrade to a more expensive software package, you can trade it in for full credit.
I can only offer some input on questions 3 and 4, I'm afraid, and will start with 4, in that most folk here don't seem to be too deeply embedded in the dark arts of CNC, although there are some very knowledgeable exceptions. From my own experience, I've found specific forums dedicated to the hardware and/or software you're using are often the best place to look for specific technical questions, although I'd also love to hear about other places where people combine CNC with more traditional cabinetmaking and woodwork, from a design/technique perspective, rather than "maker"-oriented stuff.
Re Fusion360, it's my own software of choice. The parametric design features certainly work for my own purposes, but that's more to do with manipulating a given design to work within a set of constraints, eg for a built-in worked out to fit a nominal 48" aperture which turns out to be 47 1/2" in reality; or, design is based on pieces 2 3/4" thick but they finished at 2 5/8" from the thickness planer, but now I need to change all my tenon shoulders to match so the overall piece is proportionate and meets the external dimensions. That being said, you'd likely have little difficulty setting up the model and the CAM elements of the likes of the pic you attach once you get a grip of the software (eg I've done a reasonably similar wave type effect, albeit at a much smaller, drawer-front scale and on a single piece). And I use the software for everything where I actually construct a proper plan, irrespective of whether CNC forms part of the workflow, as it has wide utility. Various free/discount options available depending on your circumstances.
A bit of an aside: if I were asked to recreate that design, I'd definitely use CAD to plan it all out and print paper templates. But in terms of executing it, I'd be opting for bandsaw and angle grinder, rather than CNC. Reason being, I don't have a CNC with a bed big enough to cut such pieces in a single run (and don't need one for my own purposes), and the cost of such a machine (a reliable one, at least) frankly dwarfs the licence fee for the software, and what you describe as "tiling" above is something I find annoying and unsatisfactory. Of course, necessarily implied within that is the fact I haven't made a piece exactly like your picture, but the point being, as ever in woodworking, there's always a gazillion ways to skin a given cat.
I am a casual (hobby) Fusion 360 user with Mach4 CNC control. The Fusion parametic features are incredibly useful as described by SPOG UK. Example - I did two carts with shelves on both sides. The depth height and width of every opening changed but one model handled it. In another project I modeled an office desk for my wife. I could change the size of drawers, knee space, and top thickness and show her images while she watched. After approval, all my material sizes were ready. Last example, - I made a dovetail model in Fusion into which I can put the dovetail width, depth, angle, spacing, board width, etc and make the Gcode for the pins and tails. BTW- I made my CNC so the spindle can reach over the edge of the table and I can clamp a board vertically to cut the dovetails. I am also trying to get better at cutting them by hand. With the CNC the space between the pins can't be smaller than the bit shank to accommodate the tiny, very aesthetic tails.