Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recommendations on CAD/CAM Open Source Software?

The more I look at the 3D printers, the more it makes sense to invest about the same money in the Sherline CNC vertical mill.  I have read the details of how G-code turns into actions on a CNC mill, but the real solution is one of the programs that lets you layout a part, and then converts it into G-code.  I see many of these available that are open source, for both Linux and Windows, but I would love to hear preferences and recommendations from my readers.

What I don't need is something sophisticated and hard to use.  I will be likely using a CNC mill to perform repetitive motions on an object that is fixed in place, and with a single tool.  (I don't think the Sherline CNC mill gives you the ability to change cutting tools programatically.)  But even this would be a big win: there are some parts that if I could carve them out of a single aluminum block or cylinder, I would, simply because it would be more professional looking and reduce the labor for fasteners.  (And aluminum chips I would recycle.)

6 comments:

brian said...

Take a look at Freemill:

http://www.mecsoft.com/freemill.shtml

I've used it. It's very simple, the machining strategy, as I recall, is just a simple raster cut, nothing fancy.

Stan Burton said...

for 2d cad software you can't go wrong with draftsight which is freeware and a fully functional autocad clone downloadable from Dassault Systemes/Solidworks. I'm unaware of a "free" 3d modelling program, but Alibre is probably about as close as you are going to get. you might check to see if Solidworks is available as a "student/teacher" edition. that is what I use and it is probably the best 3d modelling program out there. and there is a freeware addin that will generate G-code as well.

Stan Burton said...

http://solidsmack.com/cad-design-news/hsmxpress-first-fully-integrated-and-free-solidworks-cam-solution/

http://www.hsmworks.com/hsmxpress/

Stan Burton said...

Another possibility for Solidworks as well: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Science-CAD/BobCAM-for-SolidWorks.shtml

Mauser said...

If you're seriously going to get into CAD/CAM, I highly recommend this forum: http://cnczone.com/

I've been planning to build a CNC router table for some time now, and there is more expertise there than anywhere else on the net.

brian said...

Take a look at the Solid Edge Design1 monthly lease program at Local Motors. Solid Edge is a direct modeling type (as opposed to history-based) 3D modeler. The lease program has packages at various levels of features and capabilities. You can lease what you need as you need it.

https://forge.localmotors.com/pages/static.php?p=tools

You might be able to use Alibre Personal Edition, I think it is $299 now. It is very much like SolidWorks, but a fraction of the cost.