What software is best (reasonable cost / intuitive / fastest) for 3D carving

Hey guys, I’ve been reading and following along in the forum here for a couple months. I won’t see my machine until December or January, but I’m trying to dive-in and learn the software side of CNC carving.

One of the first projects I want to try is V-Carving an image into a curved surface. Something on the order of 12 to 20" radius of curvature. It’s probably a little too curved to attempt a “flat” V-Carve into the surface.

What software would you recommend for doing this? I’ve seen some videos about Vectric’s software that can do a “black/white gradient map” type thing where I suppose a 2D vector could be overlaid somehow to carve the 2D vector on a 3D surface. I might be completely mis-stating that, but if anyone has input on how to achieve this, I’d love to hear it! V-Carve Pro seems like a popular software choice, but it’s $600+ and I don’t even know if this type of carve can be done with V-Carve.

Thanks for the input, team!

That is pretty advanced, and while I know you don’t want to spend all kinds of $$ on software, Vcarve Pro and Aspire are the only packages that I know of that will do this.

Agree with Mark. 3D carve in 3D space, that’s difficult if you don’t have a 4th dimension. If your material is curved, your spindle will need to also tilt to stay perpendicular to the face while cutting - which is clearly not possible with 1F or most hobbyist machines. If you are OK with a little less precise carve, then if you can accurately approximate the curve in all directions, you might be able to pull off a 3d carve using Aspire or Fusion. I’m super interested if you can pull it off and what it takes. Seems like an interesting task for Winston Moy :slight_smile:


I’m really not so much concerned about the carve being perpendicular to the surface along the radius of curvature, mostly I just didn’t want the carve to be deep in the center and shallow out toward the edges too badly. I think I’ll have to experiment with the V- bit angles And try to find a compromise.