Introduction and CAD/CAM question


My name is Matt. I’ve been lurking on the forum for a few weeks now as I’ve been trying to decide which CNC router product was right for me. I’ve looked at quite a lot of them (SO3, OX, X-carve, etc… even started building my own based on David Steele’s designs online) and finally decided to order a 1000mm X-Carve last week. I ordered mine without electronics (I happened to have an uno, Gshield and some Nema 23 steppers that I bought in anticipation of making my own) but when I’m done it should be essentially a stock X-Carve.

While i’m waiting for my X-carve to arrive, I did have a couple of questions that maybe someone else can help me with. Mainly, I’m still working out which CAD/CAM solution will work best for me. I’ve played with Easel for a few hours, and while it’s user friendly, I can already see that it has some limitations that will eventually be a problem for the types of projects that I want to do. I also downloaded universal G-Code sender, and I’m pretty comfortable with how it works. I also played with MakerCAM a bit and it seems to work ok for a CAM solution. For CAD, I played with sketchup and inkscape, but the workflows and tools didn’t seem that intuitive to me.

Where I’d really like to go is to use Autodesk Fusion 360 as an integrated CAD / CAM solution + UGS to send the instructions to the X-Carve. I’ve downloaded it and designed a couple of projects. I’d like to use it for most of my designs, as I’m comfortable with the Autodesk way of doing CAD design (we use inventor at work). My question for everybody is have you had any success using Fusion 360 with X-Carve? I don’t want to get too far into using 360 if it’s not going to work as well I want it to. Are there any limitations, special setup parameters, or ways of doing my CAM in Fusion 360 that help make the project run well on the X-carve? Basically, I’m looking for any lessons learned that the community has to give on using X-Carve and Fusion 360 together.

Thank you in advance for your help, and I look forward to sharing my experience and projects when my X-carve arrives.

~Matt P

Fusion working well with X-Carve. We have several guys using it. I do have fusion, mostly drawing but didn’t have to generate one full tool path yet, because I’m happy with V-Carve Pro. But what I’ve heard was you have to choose proper post processor to match sizes for X-Carve. On that matter I’m expecting to see couple advises from Fusion users on this forum.

If you are comfortable with designing in F360 then I would certainly use it. If you are wanting to design 3D objects I don’t think you will be able to find a better program. The price for hobbyist (free) also just can’t be beat.

Of course with all that power comes a bit of complexity. If you just want to layout and cut a simple sign with nice lettering then it is probably a bit of overkill. Plus I am not 100% sure F360 does vbit carving.

So for that reason I really like Vcarve Desktop, it is very quick to design and generate tool paths.

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Thanks for the information Alan and Allen.

I have been looking into the Vectric products as well, and v-carve desktop seems to hit the sweet spot in terms of compatibility with the x-carve without paying for features that I don’t need. Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait until I recover from the cost of the x-carve (though I will download the trial when my machine arrives). I agree with your assessment that there’s a high overhead to getting a simple job done using Fusion (learning curve and # of steps required to design something). I’ll look into the v-bit carving: There are a ton of “cutting tools” in the Fusion library but I’ve never tried a v-bit tool path. Thank you for the pointers.

Your insight is exactly what I was after. I’ll have to do some more reading / watching youtube into the Fusion 360 CAM post-processors. I saw that they have a generic GRBL one, but that’s an area that I’m going to have to figure out for sure. If anyone else could give me more specific information on post-processor settings using Fusion, I sure would appreciate the insight.

thanks again


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The standard grbl post processor works straight out of the box. I changed mine because the version of grbl on my X-Carve did not support the M30 at the end of the file properly, but I believe that has been fixed now.

I’ve been using Fusion 360 for almost a year now. I first used it with my Blacktooth Laser, which required quite a few changes to the post processor, but pretty straight forward. The integrated CAD and CAM is fantastic and the fact that they are constantly improving the product makes it a winner for me.

What do you use as the G-Code sender?

UGS - it works fine, tried Chilipeppr but it was causing jerky movements when outputting the sophisticated HSM g-code that Fusion can produce. I didn’t pursue the Chilipeppr path as UGS worked, may have been something simple.