Vcarve or Fusion360? New to all this

Hey guys, looking at getting into one of theses programs as i have been using easel and really like it but its missing alot of things. What program do people like working with and what would you recommend?


There are a LOT of threads on this subject already if you take a look many folks have shared what they like dislike etc. It’s a pretty highly discussed topic, I think you can probably find what your looking for if you poke around.


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Thanks Alex, Ill check once i get on my pc my phone kept getting a error when i tried using the search.

If you are new to CAD, then my .02 is VCarve Pro. Then schedule a date night with YoutTube and Mark Lindsey’s channel. You will have a solid grasp on things after a few tutorials. Hope this helps.


Thanks Bern ill look up his channle

Indeed there are many threads on this topic.

Some criteria that appear regularly:

  • Platform? VCarve does not run natively on macOS (*)
  • CAD/design? Fusion 360 integrates CAD and CAM
  • Signs or boxes? Both can do 2.5D and 3D but Fusion 360 interface shines for 3D designs while VCarve built-in vector drawing is better for 2.5D
  • CNC only and 3D printer as well? Fusion 360 CAD/CAM integration helps

(*) and before someone points out that you can run VCarve in an emulator: that’s effectively running Windows, so different gestures, file system, security, etc. than macOS.

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Awesome points Ben!

I personally use Easel Pro for most of my simple designs and to crank something out quickly. But for anything more complicated or that I want the ability to scale and tweak later I use Fusion 360 “Personal Use” free version and I could not agree more Fusion 360 just has a serious leg up on resources and time in market so their product is VERY polished, and the online support/video’s are unmatched IMO.

But the Forum is doing some pretty breathtaking things with VCarve as well especially in the 3D space. So I have nothing but kudos to the Carveco and V-Carve teams as their software certainly kick ass too. In the end I think its really what you feel comfortable with, ALL of them do the job and once you learn one like all things you are hesitant to switch as all of them have a decent learning curve. Shoot I will never know 25% of what Fusion can do but it fits my needs regardless!

Good luck in whatever you choose, and the family here is always eager and willing to help!



Absolutely Alex. VCarve and Fusion 360 take different paths to CAM but they are both versatile. In my case, learning how to manufacture parts (wood selection, bits, feed rate, workholding, laser, knife, workholding, finishing, and above all design parts that mill well) has been the bigger challenge.

So I completely agree that someone who has learned VCarve or Fusion 360 will have more success when they apply their skill to all their designs, regardless of 2D or 3D. Because each parts build on what was learned before.

It goes beyond learning the mechanic of the software, it’s about learning to manufacture parts with a set of software and hardware tools.

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I made the choice because Fusion is free. It has limitations. Each time I go to buy Vcarve I look at the price and wonder if I’ll get $700 in value. Yes, there’s the desktop version but with a Journeyman being limited to 25"x25" forcing you to tile seems like a big enough of a restriction that it’s not an option for me. To do 3d work you need to move up to the $2000 Aspire. That’s a lot of money for someone who’s not doing this to earn a profit.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Vcarve and it’s not subscription based. But to treat everyone, from the guy who just plays around to have fun to the shop with a CNC production machine the same seems wrong.

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Hey all, first time posting. I ended up starting with Vectric Cut2D Pro. It does everything I want to do to start out with my Journeyman and Vectric allows you to upgrade to Vcarve without penalty at any time.

I’ve also used Fusion360 (free) for a while now for 3D printing, but found Vectric software easier to get started with the CNC due to Mark Lindsey’s YouTube channel.

I mostly use Vcarve Pro running on either a Mac with Parallels or a PC. It’s easy to learn and a good solution for simple things. But I’ve been using Fusion 360 for a year or so for 3d print designing, and it will do things Vcarve will only do with the expensive Aspire version (F360 is free for personal use). For example, I just built a decorative box with a compound curved top. I needed F360 to design the compound curved surface. But simpler 2d curved components I did entirely in Vcarve.

If you’re just starting out, Vcarve is much simpler to learn and use than F360. And it may be all you’ll ever need.

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I own and use both V-Carve and Fusion 360 - I find that they both work well, but they do have their strengths and weaknesses.

I like V-Carve for anything “flat” - signs, 3d carvings, v-carves of text, inlays. Usually, the key is that I’m importing something else (SVG graphic, or STL 3-d model), or typing text, into the design.

I like Fusion 360 when I’m designing something from scratch that I will build. The parametric design - being able to resize the drawing and have it “stay together” can be really helpful.

Both have free trial options, so you can try them out before making a decision. Fusion 360 in particular, through its free hobby license, can be used for free for a very long time.

I like that V-Carve does not penalize you for starting out at a lower version - if/when you upgrade you only pay the difference. So starting out with the Desktop license can make sense - depending on what the size of your projects are - if you’re not 100% sure it will work for you.

The vast majority of folks end up using V-Carve the most - there’s a good chance you’ll be in that camp.

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I always planned on using V-Carve. It’s powerful and once you learn it and it’s not too hard to learn. Fusion 360 can be very frustrating. There’s a lot it can do but to get the most out of it means lots of time learning. Also it changes on a regular basis so even youtube videos get quickly outdated. But it’s free.

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I think I will end up with Vcarve or Aspire after playing with a few different softwares.

Still can’t quite figure out why Aspire is so much more then Vcarve - I eventually want to do some very detailed reliefs so I’ll have to figure out if Vcarve Pro will be suitable or if I will need Aspire

The difference is apparently in that Aspire gives you more modeling tools to work with over those of Vcarve.

If, for instance, you intend to create your content outside of Vectric software, the added tools and extra cost may not serve you all that well.

What most of us are doing, I suppose, is using dedicated CAD or 3d packages outside of Vectric and just importing the models into Vectric for gcode processing. Fusion360 used to be “free for non-commercial use”. I’m not sure if that’s still the case but, if it is, getting a handle on that for content creation could save you some cash by eliminating the need for Aspire.

Edit: of course, if Fusion360 is, indeed, still free for non-commercial use, and it’s capable of generating toolpaths / gcode on its own, that should free up some cash for more end mills, bits and milling materials. :wink:

Edit 2.0: Disclaimer - I am not, in any way, shape or form, implying or endorsing that anyone should use “free for non-commercial use” software for commercial use (just so nobody can say that I gave them ideas / I am not an accomplice to your debauchery! :smiley: )

Personally, since I’ve been using an Autodesk product for 3d content creation since about 2005, I just went with Vcarve Desktop (the only significant difference between it and Pro is that Pro allows for an unlimited project size whereas Desktop limits you to 24"x24"). If you’re into learning how to tile your larger projects, you could effectively reduce your software costs even further by just going with Desktop.

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