CAD/CAM Software for ipads

Hey everyone!.

I been searching for any cad/cam software that will work on an ipad, preferably with the apple pencil but anything will work. I’m just curious if there are any options out there for ipads that will allow me to make a simple sign or small coasters while I’m away from the computer and internet.

I mostly use VCarve Pro for all my work and it is great! I’m just not able to haul a PC around to at my day job and would love to have some of my more simple designs ready to cut when I get to the shop at the end of the day.

Thanks in advance for any replies :slight_smile:

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I agree!!!

I have no idea but I am sure someone on here can help you out.

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Thanks Dan!

There are vary powerful CAD programs like Shapr3D that are awesome on ipads so I can’t see how the hardware is the limitation here. Just needs a CAM program to go with it.

Maybe I should go to school and become a computer programmer and a machinist and build this. haha

PS: There is an app called Replicantis that seems to be able to do this. But the app store has 2 star rating with only 2 reviews. If I feel the $3 price if worth the risk I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Welcome to the forums, CMAC.

A lot of folks appear to be using Fusion 360 and I’m noting, at least in search results, that it does have a mobile version for the iPad. I’m not sure how much functionality a mobile version would afford you but it might be advantageous to have a look at it.

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Happy to be here :slight_smile:

From what I’ve read about the mobile version of Fusion 360. It’s more of a companion app for viewing and commenting on designs without the ability to create or edit. I might be wrong so I’ll look again. Great suggestion!

The main thing I’m seeing is that these programs simply aren’t designed to be used with a touchscreen and isn’t enough demand for it to be developed.

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That’s an ironic twist because, several years ago during the mobile tech boom, a lot of us old-school pc workstation operators were legitimately worried that we were going to end up losing support.

Now, as far as making things work goes, you can run whatever you want from whatever you want IF you’re willing / able to step outside of boxes. A decade ago, I was running 3ds max from a Macbook Pro in a dual-boot environment. It felt hackish but it got the job done.

Another option could be to remote desktop to effectively utilize software that exists on your workstation from your mobile tablet. I’ve never done that so I’m not sure how hackish that would feel but, in theory, it should afford you the ability to access and operate your workstation from anywhere through wifi. It’s a means of answering the “how can I” question without having to settle for the “directly, maybe you can’t” answer.

Edit: also, I’d imagine that your coworkers would think you a veritable god for being able to control a remote workshop from work. I’d be very curious to know if you could actually control the cnc remotely in this manner since you’d be effectively controlling the workstation that’s used to control it.


I totally agree and was actually surprised when I couldn’t find anything. I mentioned the Shapr3D app because its specifically designed for the apple pencil and proves the capabilities of the hardware. It’s great CAD software that has allowed me to draw out a 3D design and generate the 2D drawings for general woodworking.

A hackish method is fine with me if it works.

The CAM software on the ipad is the only missing piece needed to make this single device the entire shop workstation.

Thanks for the replies everyone!.. Looks like I have some more work to do :slight_smile:

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I have to echo the thought of @BJS3D and remote desktop. While an actual application that you’re looking for may not be available, I’ve messed around a bit with remote desktop. There was a program called Team Viewer that came pre-installed on my Acorn CNC computer that’s a screen share program. I’m not real fond of it. It operates smoothly, but finicky to start up, and there’s too many nag screens. Another thing I tried is simply sharing the desktop in Chrome. That also works very smoothly, the only down-side I’ve found is that I can’t drag & drop files (yeah, I realize I can use Google Drive or similar, but I don’t want to). Anyway, something like that would give you full functionality of your CAD/CAM programs on the iPad (presumably).

I like that disclaimer. Maybe even “theoretically”. :wink:

Like you said, Team Viewer is… Team Viewer. I had to use it many years ago when I was involved with a small indy game studio. I didn’t like it and what you’ve said about it is far more gracious than I’d have offered. But remote desktop has come a long way in a couple decades. It definitely would facilitate abilities, though another disclaimer: assuming your wifi is reliable and with decent bandwidth. Everything’s gotta be so conditional! :sob:

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:rofl: Thanks man, now I feel like I gotta put a legal disclaimer on anything I comment on here! :rofl:


Might as well. It’s kinda fun and, if something you suggested does go horribly wrong, you can always say, “Did you read the disclaimer? All of this stuff was provided as theoretically possible without any implication of practicality!” :wink:

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“conditional” is absolutely correct.

Remote desktop is something I will definitely try. At the very least this will allow me to tweak the jobs in the shop from the ipad to save me from running to and from the house.

I’m now very curious to see how vcarve can function when being controlled remotely with a touchscreen device. I assume not well.

Disclaimers on everything! Always! HAHA


Heck, I was thinking about mass-production, honestly. Run a job while sleeping, setup a new job prior to work, go to work, start the job / monitor from work, start a new job once home again, wash / rinse / repeat. :wink:

Also… disclaimer: probably not safe to run a job remotely but “theoretically possible”. :wink:

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I run jobs all the time when I’m at work… but it may be prudent to mention that the shop is like 8 steps away from my home office, so there’s that. :slight_smile:


Oh, geez! You’ve taken “work smart, not hard” to a professional level way beyond my wildest dreams! *bows, but with minimal effort

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Responds with half-nod. :laughing:

Many decades ago when I was a machinist in various Detroit area shops, in the earlier days of CNC machining centers and robotic part loaders/unloaders, there was a term you would frequently hear “Lights-out manufacturing”, whereby you could (theoretically) have a machining center run itself. I remember working at a shop (night-shift) where I would baby-sit 2 Mazak machining centers. One night I had both machining centers running, and at the same time I had 2 Bridgeport CNC’s running a job, and I was also running a job on a manual Bridgeport (lest I should be standing around doing nothing :rofl: ). That particular night, at that particular time, the big boss made a very rare nighttime appearance and saw 1 person running 5 machines. That’s what he saw, truth is I was baby-sitting 4 and running 1. He didn’t say anything, but I was called into the office at the beginning of my shift the next afternoon & told how impressed he was. Watch out! Make room! Big head coming through! :joy:


I always enjoyed working with the manual vertical mills. There’s really just a general feeling of accomplishment when the blueprints become reality within the specified tolerances because you know what you’re doing. (big heads all around, okay)

The closest I’ve ever come to experience full-on automation in a cnc-related sense was when working for a company out of Oxford that was toying around with a robotic welder. At the time, it was supposed to be state-of-the-art and, as I had just injured myself on a totally non-robotic line (working with the same exact parts, though), I was privileged with its startup.

And that’s the most exciting part of the experience. Once it was running, all I had to do was baby sit it, make sure it didn’t run out of mig wire, clean or replace the tips occasional and spec the parts once or twice per hour.

It was a behemoth, though. Quite an impressive cnc mig and quite an impressive accomplishment for the mid-90’s.


I would love to tell an equally cool story about using theses machines but unfortunately it’s limited to asking the real machinist to leave the machine in neutral so I can complete my NDT inspection. “Excuse me sir, would you mind setting up the part in a way that allows me to do as little physical work as needed”

Liquid penetrant/ultrasound by day, and saw dust/glue by night. :sunglasses: