Inventables Community Forum

Best software to run

Hey guys new to the forums and just received my xcarve in the mail…
While waiting for the xcarve I was learning easel pro… But researching on the Facebook groups I’m noticing everyone using Vcarve… is that the best software to run or does anyone prefer a better software?

Also I’m seeing that vCarve runs a free trail… how long is the free trail for? It doesn’t say and I can’t find the answer on Facebook or the internet…

It depends on what kind of carvings you want to do.

Easel / Easel Pro is a 3in1 package:

  • Design (CAD)
  • Generate tool paths (CAM)
  • Send gcode file to machine (CNC)

Vectric, Aspire, Fusion360 etc cover the first two stages, and your sender of choice can be used to transmit.

What you want to carve, and how, determine which program is “best”. V-Carve is specialized (AFAIK) as a relief carve program and used by many.

EaselPro is great introductory software, and you can just use it indefinitely if you only want to make 2D designs (signs, etc.). But if you want to do actual 3D carving (well, relief carving with curves), you’ll need different software.

I think VCarve, or another one in the Vectric suite, is the more accessible (in terms of learning curve) software that lets you really unlock the functionality of CNC/the XCarve. However, it is expensive.

There is just-as-functional software available for free (for noncommercial and low-volume commercial work)… Autodesk’s Fusion360. However, it has a somewhat higher learning curve to get started. If you have the money, VCarve is good. If you have time to commit to learning Fusion360, it is arguably better… maybe… I dunno. I think it’s apples and oranges.

Be aware that (unless they’ve changed this) vCarve’s free trial won’t let you save or export your own designs. You will have full access to all of the design tools, so you can familiarize yourself with the software, but won’t be able to save your work or send it to your machine. When they say you can carve designs on your CNC, they mean a handful of ready-made sample designs that you download from their site.

Also, as Haldor has brought up, you’ll need a gcode sender if you move away from Easel. UGS (Universal G-code Sender) is good, and it’s free. There are others, but I know UGS.

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I prefer Rhino3d because I’ve used it for so long. It used to be the “hobbiest” 3d software. I use it in conjunction with MeshCam and the Universal Gcode sender. It’s not cheap if you aren’ t a student or educator.

F360 user here (and UGS for sender).

Pros: It’s all free!!

Cons: As stated, learning curve.

Recommendation: If you also have a 3D printer, learn to use Fusion - the modeling skills will be valuable for both applications. If you just want to get to carving cool stuff and don’t mind dropping the cash, go with Vectric.

Backing this. Disclaimer: I have never really used any of the other programs, just tinkered a bit with easel.

I’m using Fusion360 and Chillipeppr as a sender. Fusion is free (at least up to 100000 $ earnings), but it has a steep learning curve. That said, they have a lot of tutorials on their website which helped me out. Nonetheless you need some time to figure out the whole workflow.
I think it’s worth mentioning that Fusion attends to an “engineering mindset” (in lack of a better word). Some things are not really intuitive at first, but if you get into that certain mindset they suddenly become obvious. I don’t really know how to describe it better.

My advice would be:
Check out two or three options yourself, if you have the time. Everyone has different preferences so judge the options for yourself. And if you have specific questions about how to do things in one of the tools search the forum and open a post if you don’t find anything.

I also use F360 and UGS and Easel as sender (using separate post processors)

The learning curve is best handled by using F360 and incrementally grow with it. Its extremely powerful and versatile, both in terms of design but also for tool path generation.