Noob CNC CAD/CAM Software questions

I am VERY close to pulling the trigger to get the X-Carve 750 or 1000, still to be determined. I have been reading a lot thru the Forums, and elsewhere, getting an idea about the software and which is capable of what. So it seems Easel is very well respected but it is basically only for 2D/2.5D carving/cuts.
V-Carve can be used for 3D. Please let me know if those statements are not accurate.
So for a little background: I have a couple of 3D printers and have been doing a lot with them over the last year and a half. I do a LOT design in Onshape, which Onshape is awesome, and then export STL’s and produce all of my gcode via Slic3r.
So I am obviously interested in taking my designs to another area/material and be able to do similar things with wood or aluminum.
So my questions are:

  1. With Easel how do the cuts look? As in, does it only perform straight cuts with 90º edges? Or can you model filleted edges with it?
  2. I would prefer to not learn an entirely new CAD program, so is there a way to still use Onshape as my design tool? And if so, what is the best way to generate the needed gcode for the X-Carve from the Onshape STL’s?
    Would MeshCAM be the best option?
  3. Is there any other step in the software/design flow I am missing? It seems as though this is very similar to the 3D printing process in that it goes: Design/CAD program -> CAM/gcode generator -> gcode file sent to machine
    Thanks in advance for any wisdom you can share!
  1. you can use various endmill shapes, even if Easel doesn’t show them on-screen, they will cut true to their shape. Some competing programs such as Carbide Create (bundled w/ the Shapeoko 3) do this.

  2. Yes, you could export an STL from OnShape, then use MeshCAM to cut it

  3. The big differences between 3D printing (additive) and routing/milling (subtractive) are the stock material, the need to hold it in place ( ), and which endmills of what shape you will be applying at what feeds and speeds ( )

Pretty much everything I ever came across is on the Shapeoko wiki (linked to from above) — if there’s some question you have which it doesn’t address, I’d be glad to know of it.

Awesome! That’s is just the kind of info I was looking for. Thanks very much!

Use the search function in this forum, and you should be able to find answers to most of your questions. And use BLUE LOCTITE!