Skipping VCarve to start out?

Brand new to CNC and I’m contemplating purchasing the Onefinity Woodworker X-50. It’s down to this and the Shapeoko Pro XXL. Both have their suggested software - VCarve and Carbide Create.

My sons (one college, one high school) will be doing most of the designing for me. I’ve seen that people use Fusion 360, so I asked them if they had that and they do, along with Inventor and AutoCad. The younger one has every product made by AutoDesk, not sure if my older son does nor what else he has right now (he’s 1,000 miles away, so it’s easier to just ask the younger one for now LOL). He’s a computer engineering major at a large university, so I’m sure he has software I’ve never heard of.

With these programs, would I be able to skip VCarve (or Carbide Create) and save the money to lower start up costs? Would I need them on my computer to take files they email me over to the CNC or does the base software allow importing these files and running the machine? I’m running a MacBook Air, if that matters.

Things I’d like to begin creating are trays with pockets, signs with layered text, inlays, and v-bit fonts cut out. I’d also be doing personalized cutting boards, coasters, etc. Once we get a better grasp of everything this machine can do and the limitations of the software we have, I’ll be happy to consider upgrading to better/more expensive programs. For all I know, the software they already have will be more than I’ll ever need, but as a newbie watching videos on YouTube, it seems apparent to me that most people really like the software recommended by their CNC manufacturer over these other programs.

I use fusion 360 for most things I create since they are generally full 3D models and assemblies with multiple parts. The one area Fusion 360 struggles is when you import a vector graphic such as a .svg or a .dwg with many splines and elements, I run a beefy computer and it will still slow me to a crawl. Depending on how you want to create your projects (many people use a .svg as the basis from the internet or traced from a graphic/photo) this will present some frustration with Fusion 360. Also there isn’t a intuitive way to use multiple bits for clearing out the flat spots when creating a v carve of a larger area in Fusion 360 - it can be done but it’s not as simple as other applications make it. Also, depending on the license you have for Fusion 360 some features will be restricted - in the personal license it removes in program tool changes, rapid movement in the tool path between cutting operations and limits you to 10 editable files at a time for example. Not a big deal really, just leads to slower carve operations and using multiple programs when including tool changes.

The good news is you can use Fusion 360 for what it is good at and you can use the free version of Carbide Create although I think it only runs on Windows. This may be a good starting point for you as you evaluate the benefits of moving to more feature rich products on the market.

Once the g code file is created for you the operating system you use to upload it to your Onefinity is irrelevant.

I echo a lot of what Wayward said. I tend to draw the line at functional vs aesthetic projects. If functional, Fusion 360 works great for me. Used it so far for designing some clamps, my wasteboard, and parts for the enclosure I’m building for the OF. Some of the enclose parts are simple and I just cut with a table saw, but some I’ve cut out with the OF.

Prior to getting the OF I was using a cheap CNC and did a carving into acrylic to edge light with an LED. I tried to create the tool paths in fusion, but eventually had success by switching and doing this in Carbide Create.

Sounds like your sons wouldn’t have trouble with any CAD program so you could try out Fusion and see where it works for you and where it doesn’t. I don’t find the personal version restrictions limiting for my work at all.

There is a Mac OS version of Carbide Create.

Thanks for the correction :+1: I probably should have checked before I made that statement. I don’t use Carbide Create but I’ve seen people who do and somewhere along the way I became misinformed.

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You are wise to start with low cost solutions, learn and then re-assess.

With that in mind, the free version of Carbide Create works well with the 1F. The personal (also free) version of Fusion 360 also works well well with the 1F. I do all my work with those two applications and, for the sort of jobs you describe, you will be very happy.

Note that Carbide Create is (much) more limited than Fusion 360 but it is also easier on small jobs… like cutting boards and coasters.

Being a Mac user, I have no experience with VCarve (I would need to run a Windows VM, which I don’t want to do) but, from the videos, it appears more targeted to designing bas relief and such things.

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