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Zeb

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Short way to say coyote.
If the trigger's gold, the yote will fold! -Rut Daniels


A youte, on the other hand, might be a young man like myself who needs to consume less caffeine and ramble less about 3D software. hehe
 

Jasonb

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Zeb, I did enquire with the UK agent for Alibre and you can buy the CAM that they include in workshop which is basically MeshCAM separately and that was about £150GBP. I did try it but felt it is aimed more at the "maker" types with gantry routers than those of us that like to cut metal. So I have stuck with the free F360 for my CAM needs The full blown CAM that can be included with Alibre Pro & Expert is about £1000GBP

 
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Bazzer

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It is worth noting that there is a seldom mentioned, free, Siemens 3D CAD too for non-professional use. I don't know how it is crippled, but I assume that it is in some fashion. I think Siemens owns NX, so maybe it is the same thing? I've been wondering that. I don't know anything about NX other than it is what Apple uses (or used) for their designs, which would certainly be an indication that the application is very capable. I also don't know if there is any reasonable way to get an output from the free version of the Siemens product into an affordable CAM system. Because I have a CNC (along with a ton of others on this board, I suspect) the ability to generate G-code is a mandate.

ON EDIT:
I'm not sure what the difference is between SolidEdge and NX. It looks like Siemens has several different products. That isn't too surprising; Dassualt does the same thing with DraftSight, SolidWorks, and even Alibre at one point in time (I think they owned it for a while... might be wrong). I'm very curious if anyone has any experience with SolidEdge and if they know whether or not it can be integrated into a CAM system. I believe the full SE product is well respected, but I know nothing more about the community edition other than it is a perpetual license.

Edit 2:
. Apparently it is fully functional, but has some limitations associated with opening created assets on full versions, etc. Interesting. Still not sure about CAM
I currently use the SE Community Edition, the only crippling feature is that the native files produced with it cannot be opened on a fully licensed SE license.

Exports to CAM are handled via STP, or IGES, I export to BobCad where I apply tool paths for milling or to Simplify 3D for 3D printed parts.

One thing I can promise you all is that a life time in a CAD software programme producers mind is different from our idea of a lifetime. I think their idea of lifetime is until they decide to finish that promotion !!

I thought Siemens were a bit above this game and I was close to splashing out on the whole SE package but then I saw changing goal posts and backed away.

I have CAD from the following Bobcad, Alibre, Siemens Solid Edge, MOI and Bricscad.

Bobcad are quite a bit better than their reputation, you just buy the package and away you go, no maintainence etc, Alibre have changed ownership at least twice since 2009, Siemens have a great package but I saw warning signs, MOI and Bricscad are fine to deal with.

Autodesk? well having spent many thousands with them over the years, I would never knowingly give them another cent, penny, dime or what ever nor trust them to tell me when even the sun was coming up in the morning.

B.
 
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L98fiero

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Every modeling kernel has tricks to workaround certain quirks. Anyone have ideas of a nightmare model I could work on with Alibre this weekend? ;)
There's this guy on Youtube, I'd think his project building a 6 cylinder engine head would cover most of what any miniature engine builder would need.
 
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Zeb

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Nice video. Some block+fillet "CAD Machining" pitfalls can be solved with lofts and sweeps. I tried some of their surfacing tools, but understandably they're kept pretty basic with a default Rhino import option. Kind of a niche thing too.

Sheetmetal looks really good too. Not quite for engine work, but useful for a lot of other applications requiring flat patterns.

From what I'm seeing so far, I think it's the best value for the price. Good time to buy up a copy before they get "autodesked" (bought out and sidelined).
 
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Jasonb

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You don't get sheet metal with Atom, only with Expert
 

L98fiero

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Nice video. Some block+fillet "CAD Machining" pitfalls can be solved with lofts and sweeps. I tried some of their surfacing tools, but understandably they're kept pretty basic with a default Rhino import option. Kind of a niche thing too.

Sheetmetal looks really good too. Not quite for engine work, but useful for a lot of other applications requiring flat patterns.

From what I'm seeing so far, I think it's the best value for the price. Good time to buy up a copy before they get "autodesked" (bought out and sidelined).
If you need surfaces and 'organic' solids, Moment of Inspiration is a program that works well with Alibre and was developed by the original/main programmer for Rhino so it has a lot of similarities but not as extensive(or as expensive).
 

nealeb

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I have been using Fusion 360 extensively but now working with Solid Edge 2022 for design and modelling. I can confirm that you can export from SE in .stp format and import into F360 to use the CAM. A bit more clunky that having a properly integrated package (like F360 - just click a button to go between CAD and CAM modes) but it does work.
 

MrMetric

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Jason... That is an interesting observation about SolidEdge. The text in their webpage makes it sound as though it is lifetime, but the link you provided seems to indicate others are finding something different. I couldn't say because I don't personally use the program. I'm trying to settle on something that gives me an easy and affordable route to CAM too. Until I know for sure, I don't want to say "yes" to SolidEdge. My inclination is actually to go down the Alibre/MeshCAM route. I'm following this thread here very carefully to try and get a feeling for how some of the newcomers to the program (Richard, for instance) settle on their experiences. I am always worried by the number of neuterings the 'basic' versions of applications have. I get that companies need to preserve a higher price point, and I'm deeply appreciative of their efforts to make something we mere hobbyists can use, but I also need to be able to successfully use the product to justify its purchase.

Someone asked about the cost to add CAM to the pro version. I don't believe Alibre has any deal worked out for the purchase of MeshCAM (I might be wrong), which means that it is probably going to be $500 for the pro version. Yes, the pricing there is a bit funny. Alibre Workshop comes with the Pro version and the full product is $300. I do *not* know if the MeshCAM you get with Alibre is somehow tied to only Alibre. My sense is that it is not. As such, it would be oddly more cost effective to buy both Alibre Pro and Alibre Workshop.
 

mrehmus

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If you are interested in CAM, I strongly recommend you look at Vectric. They have programs at most price points and they are a large company who even have annual user group meetings. That tells you they have a lot of professional users.
I use Vectric 3D Desktop which also will control a 4th axis. I moved up to it from Cut 2D when they had a sale on. Cut 2D Desktop is $149 and I used it for many years to make engine parts. The 3D Desktop adds in full 3D and 4th Axis. I think its limitation is parts no larger than 4 feet or so. I don't know why most of us would need their top end product. But the lower priced products appear to all be based on the same fundamental code as the $2,000 product, Aspire.
I fed Cut 2D DXF files for all my projects like connecting rods and it does support two-side machining. Cut 3D will accept STL files and has more machining option but nothing is cut-rate on any of them.
Compared to MeshCam and CamBam, Vectric is, in my experience, better. But I have not used recent versions of MeshCam or CamBam even though I have a license for those I do have. So take my input with a grain of salt. Your mileage may differ.
I should also mention that you have the capability to design things in the program although I would not call it CAD capability.
Vectric: Homepage | Vectric
 
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MrMetric

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Thank you Mike.... I will definitely look at Vectrix. I'm off to my Thanksgiving dinner now, so this will have to wait. Top on my list is whether or not it is CAD CAM or just CAM. If the latter, then would you recommend it being paired with Alibre Atom?

4th axis is something I want. I've converted an indexer to a full servo controlled axis.

And, of course, I'll be checking the licensing. I really really really do not want to get involved with software rentals. Subscriptions are an automatic disqualifier.
 

nealeb

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While I use F360 and Solid Edge for "engineering" purposes - great 3D CAD tools - I also have and use a copy of Vectric Vcarve. I would characterise it as being mainly aimed at woodworkers and CNC routers, hence the "desktop" and "full" versions with a 4' or whatever cut-off! Not too many of our amateur engineering projects go quite that big.

I am a great admirer of what Vectric have done. They have studied their target market and instead of continually over-complicating it, they have ignored the 90% or so of CAM functions in particular that woodworkers rarely, if ever, use. By doing that, they have been able to concentrate on making the remaining functions as easy to use as reasonably possible. I use my copy for woodworking jobs, particularly things like engraving house nameplates, and it does a very good job. Very nice quality lettering as well. However, while you can import DXF files for 2/2.5D machining and STL for full 3D machining, it can't really handle 3D engineering-type jobs using, say, .STP files. That's why I find I use "engineering" and "woodworking" CAD/CAM tools for those respective jobs. But there's a lot of cross-over and if you are looking at 2/2.5D work, Vectric tools are worth considering. Not cheap but they are perpetual licences.
 

Jasonb

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I did get Vectric Cut2D thrown in when I got my CNC but only used it a couple of times for a few test cuts. As Said above I felt it was more for the router user much like I felt about the trial of MeshCAM so limited in what it could do.

I suppose it all comes down to the type of work you feel you may be doing. A lot of what I do on the CNC is replicating castings so I want something that can do 3D but somebody who is happy just making barstock engines that still look like barstock will probably get away with 2 or 2.5D.

Before Fusion changed things I liked to use their "steep & shallow" which was very good for complex compound curves, now I can still get a similar result but have to set more things myself depending on how close to flat or vertical the surface is which S&S used to do for you. I certainly could not make something like this with a 2 or 2.5D program

 
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Zeb

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Before Fusion changed things I liked to use their "steep & shallow" which was very good for complex compound curves, now I can still get a similar result but have to set more things myself depending on how close to flat or vertical the surface is which S&S used to do for you. I certainly could not make something like this with a 2 or 2.5D program
Nice result! Reminds me of the Woodward prop governors on Pratts that have replaced the original cast versions. I'm wondering if there are corrosive type etchers (feric chloride?) that would produce that sandcast finish, at least on aluminum. Did you run 2 intersecting drilled holes between ports with the exterior only being cosmetic?
 

Jasonb

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I'll be bead blasting that to get a satin finish.

I did consider doing that part in two halves and soldering together so the passages would follow the exterior but as I'm not building for performance and it would have been difficult to solder unless done in brass or steel I just drilled in from each end.

This is it on the engine (smaller version of the wall 36cc) and the fabricated steel cylinder has been blasted though I'm probably going to do that mat black.

 

lee webster

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I tried SE community edition and didn't get on with it. Very powerfull and full of features though. I use Designspark mechanical for my simple cad work. It won't produce drawings of any great detail, but I don't need that feature or cam, yet.
DS does require an internet connection now and then, and as my cad computer isn't connected to the WWW, I just adjust the date each time I run DS to the same date I installed it on. Perhaps SE can be used in the same way.
 

CFLBob

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I've been silently watching this thread and learning all I can about the options.

Right now, I'm using an old version of Rhino (v5) and working around its bugs. Alibre sounds like a high point for me. Even though I can upgrade to the current Rhino at a discount (any older version of Rhino gets it), it's $600. $100 for Alibre sounds better (this weekend only).

I'm curious about the the Alibre Workshop combo of CAD and CAM and I'm hoping someone who has played with Workshop can tell me about it.

It looks like simple CAM. I also have an old version of DeskProto, which (I think!) has been replaced by the free version and I think of it as good for cutting outlines. I think that's 2.5D CAM. This is picture of the thing about it that annoys me. I don't know the term for it but I think it isn't as good as plain old G-code from the command line in Mach3 I give it a part with a line that's not a straight cut in X or Y, say, and it interpolates a series of X and Y movements. For example, look at the left front of this part that I made a few months ago for the engine I'm working on. I drew a red-orange square around it.

HighlightedSteps.jpg


The angled surface ends up having very visible "stair steps" on it. They're lighter in color here because of some time I spent with a belt sander removing some of the ripple. I could program that in one line in G-code from the command line, if I figured out the start and end points of the line segment. Lately, I've been writing CAM files by hand because I want the surface to come out smoother. Likewise the raised area on top is halves of two different diameter circles connected by straight line cuts, just not straight in pure X or Y. If you look at the vertical edge right around the middle of the bolt, where it goes into the curve and you can see little steps there, too. In G-code that would come out prettier if you programmed it as two semicircles joined by straight lines, rather than a bunch of little straight lines segments.

I don't know much about what's commercially available. Maybe this is a dream for a CAM program that's beyond what people can program, but having the CAM integrated into the CAD would be the best chance. When I design the part in CAD, I'd specify where those cylinders are centered in 3-space, their diameter and height above the rest of the block. If that information is in the CAD file, the CAM program only needs to know how big the tool you're using is so that it can calculate the 1 radius offset for every point it needs to cut.

Does Workshop act like Deskproto?

Alibre Atom is looking good. I'd rather not open every Rhino file I've got on my drive and save them in a format that Atom can read, but I suppose that's likely no matter which program I use.


Bob
 

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