Vcarve, fusion or other?

So the CAM software i had planned on using originally didnt pan out for me, what is some other good software that is free? I tried the trial version of Vcarve but realized it was completely useless not being able to export to gcode. I like vcarve a lot but not in a position to spend 350 on it just starting out. I see people reference the free version of vcarve all the time, is there another free version i am missing? Fusion seems nice as well but a little more complicated to run.

I have access to solidworks so i dont necessarily need anything that does 3d modeling. Just something to create toolpaths and convert to gcode

What’re you making?

For 3D stuff, A free year of Fusion 360 for non commercial use would be hard to beat:

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Woods signs starting out, foam inserts, brass stamps later

You’ll want full control of the toolpaths for brass, and I’d go with Fusion 360 for that. The wood signs and foam inserts could also be done in Fusion, but don’t count out Easel for quick things. I find v-carve to be less intuitive than Fusion 360, but I’ve not given it much time yet.


IF you haven’t already, I’d check out MeshCam for 3d and CamBam for 2D. Both are reasonably priced and offer full trials for limited times.

For free, look at JScut and go to

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Thanks for the responses so far. Forgot ro mention that I am running an openbuilds lead1010 so Easel isn’t an option for me. I posted in here just to get some fresh ideas and see what people outside openbuilds were using. I learned a lot in this community here when i was shopping for a router, so I still browse through here often.

Was i imagining things when I thought people were using vcarve desktop for free? The trial version is basically useless because you cant save as any other file type except for vcarve.

I will look into some of these other options that were mentioned here as well.

It sure is. It’ll generate gcode that is compatible with any grbl controlled machine.

I think so. :wink:
Fusion 360 can v-carve.
F-engrave can v-carve.
Carbide Create can v-carve
Easel (Pro)can v-carve
All free. (Easel Pro free days each month)

Neil is right about Easel creating G-code for nearly anything. I have exported Easel G-code and produced cuts on both my LinkSprite (GRBL) and my Techno Isel Davinci III.

Ahhhh interesting! I was under the assumption Easel was only compatible with the X-Carve…but it also makes sense that is not true.

Yes, they all seem to do the same things (most of the popular ones), just a matter of which I prefer. I think I will try all of these as I go, because once my 1 year of Fusion is up, I dont know that I can justify the $500 a year to pay for the full license lol.

Unless something has changed, Fusion 360 is free for hobbyists and small businesses (under 100k per year).

If you want free, you can get good options as mentioned above but I take exception with @NeilFerreri1 comment that VCarve is not intuitive. I personally think that it is much more intuitive than F360 but I guess you will have to try for yourself. VCarve trial version will not let you generate GCode except for a few free projects available on the Vectric website. I have VCarve Pro and it is a very sophisticated and powerful program that is perfect for sign making and many other tasks like engraving. I have used it for cutting aluminum very successfully but It is not a full 3D design program but for 2.5D it is great if somewhat pricey.

Having used both F360 and VCarve in back to back days, I would agree VCarve is easier to pick up. On the struggle bus with F360. I use Solidworks at work, so maybe I am just used to that as well.

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@LucFournier I’m just coming from a solid modeling background and haven’t used V-carve enough to be comfortable. Is there anything it does that the others can’t?

I have a front seat on that bus too! :wink: I have to make more of an effort to get going because I have several 3D projects I would like to undertake.

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Don’t get me wrong, V-carve makes it dead easy to generate toolpaths. I just find almost anything else easier to design with.
V-carve’s UI has the feeling of something from 2005 to me…I feel the same about Solidworks, though.


EstlCam is probably the easiest cam software to use. You are in complete control, but even tricky things are intuitive. It has its own control software element but most people, like me, save as machine control file (gcode).
The trial is fully functional- there is a time delay built in that starts to become annoying after a while, but the license is very cheap anyway.

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And just be clear, you’re using V-Carve software on the Inventable X-carve without any issues?

@NeilFerreri1 I’m sort of in the same boat Neil… Someone ‘gifted’ me a license of Vcarve in lieu of actual $$ I should have received (a misguided gesture). I have installed it and opened it MANY times, but the CAD side of the program is simply not to my liking, and that’s a huge issue. I’ve found the same issue with TurboCAD and QCAD. I currently (and happily) use Draftsight and Estlcam, which has served me very well. Since Draftsight is going away, I’m looking for a replacement. I’ve posted my Vcarve license for sale, but perhaps I should buck-up and just learn it. I get the feeling that heavy CAD users (professionals) may have a harder time picking up Vcarve than those who don’t already have that ingrained process flow understanding. Or maybe it’s just me being old. :thinking:

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