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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Artcam replacement

    Hi all

    I have only been machining for about a month now and have been using Artcam in combination with Fusion360. I can tell you that my luck is the reason that Autodesk has decided to discontinue Artcam, and now I really need some advice.
    The past month I have been using Artcam exclusively for engraving, and when I heard about it being discontinued, I immediately looked for other software solutions.
    I managed to get Type3 to send me a dongle with 1 month free trail of Type Edit. Unfortunately It just felt extremely over complicated and cluttered in comparison to Artcam - Achieving the simplest of tasks took about 5 extra steps.
    I really would appreciate some advice on which software I should look at as a replacement - I have looked at TypeEdit and Aspire.

    Please remember, I'm very new to this.

  2. #2
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Aspire or Enroute.
    Enroute is probably more powerful, but much more expensive.
    Gerry

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    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  3. #3
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Thanks for the reply Ger21. Would you mind elaborating on where Enroute would be more powerful? What kind of features would I be missing out on while saving a few Buck?

  4. #4
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    I used to read Dan Sawatzky's Enroute blog, which showed a lot of what it's capabilities were. THis was a few years back, and I don't know if all the posts still exist anywhere. I've never actually used it myself, so can't really give you a comparison.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  5. #5
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Here it is.

    MULTICAM
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
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    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  6. #6
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Hi guys
    This whole ArtCAM story is a real pain in the butt.
    I wasn't taking note so I actually missed it - ordered all the parts for a LowRider (all on the water as we speak) and while I am waiting, went to download and install ArtCAM.
    That is when I found out...
    The thing is that I want to do bas-relief work and Artcam was the most viable (and recommended ) solution cost wise - you SA guys will understand what paying in $$$ can be like.
    Yes, there are other packages out there but...
    I have seen some tutorials about doing photo to bas using Blender but the learning curve on Blender is ridiculous!!!
    So I thought about it and came up with the following points after asking the question "How does it actually work?" (converting an image to G-Code that is)
    1. Get the image you want to use.
    2. Convert it to grey-scale.
    3. Figure out the final dimensions (width, length, height of relief) and feed them in.
    4. Set stuff like tool diameter, shape, max cut depth, feed speed etc etc
    5. Using bas relief height, work out the height of each color [ height of relief for black, 0 for white and increment by (1/255) * grey value for the rest ]
    6. Using tool diameter figure out how far each linear step needs to be and how far each step-over should be.
    7. Work out the tool path and generate the G-Code in one process.

    OK, I have made it sound one heck of a lot more simple than it actually is but you get the idea.
    Now the last time I did something as calculation heavy as this, Visual Basic 4 was the "flavor of the day" - but I still have a copy of VB6 so...
    Well it would not install on Win7pro so I got Visual Studio and installed that and started.
    Got the image to grey working, and the resize image to width/length and just started figuring out how I was going to figure out the tool path when Visual Studio went bezerk and screwed up my PC for me.
    Now here is the thing:
    Essentially what I outlined is exactly what all these "image to bas" programs do basically.
    Yes there are probably some clever bits that read ahead and alter the path height or whatever but it is not "magic" - they all start out with the image and convert it to G-Code and use some clever inline processes along the way.
    And all us hobby machinists that would like to do bas work need something like this - NOT the uber costly "Professional" software licenses that the bean-counters are holding us to ransom for these days - and then taking off the market.
    As I said, I tried in VB but as any developer will tell you, if you don't use it you loose it and my VB skills have not been used for about 20 years.
    So I want to do it in PHP and see what I can get going. (I am a web developer and I use PHP exclusively)
    But with PHP there is one problem: it is going to take more than 30 seconds to do the whole process and the browser will DEFINITELY time out on even a small image.
    Now, I have figured out a way around that and once my LowRider is up and running (maybe about August I hope) I'm going to start developing.
    Anyone else interested in collaborating?
    We will need math algorithm geniuses and probably a bunch of "testers"... (group)

  7. #7
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    You can't download the artcam software ? If you already had the software, you just lack of support. But you can get it somewhere. Do you have old artcam software ?

  8. #8
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by asuratman View Post
    You can't download the artcam software ? If you already had the software, you just lack of support. But you can get it somewhere. Do you have old artcam software ?
    I have not got a copy of the software - is it still available?
    And if it is doesn't it use cloud storage or some other "must be registered and logged in" trick to prevent unauthorized usage?
    And who is to say that it does not have some sort of "timebomb" in the code that will just stop it working at sometime in the future.
    To be honest, I would rather be using software that is open-source and written by people that are passionate about the thing than some "for profit" thing.
    But that is just me...

  9. #9
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    You can't download the artcam software ?
    No, not legally.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  10. #10
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    No, not legally.
    Thats what I thought ...

  11. #11
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    A pox on Autodesk for this move.

  12. #12
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by warrenb View Post
    A pox on Autodesk for this move.
    Agreed - I wonder just how many people will NOT use Autodesk on principle after being dumped like this.

  13. #13
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Progress is what progress does and that is it's either making money or costing .........when it's costing it's not profitable no matter how good it is or how many people are using it, so the move will always be to the positive that makes money......go with the flow and keep the business in profit or die with the old one.
    Ian.

  14. #14
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by handlewanker View Post
    Progress is what progress does and that is it's either making money or costing .........when it's costing it's not profitable no matter how good it is or how many people are using it, so the move will always be to the positive that makes money......go with the flow and keep the business in profit or die with the old one.
    Ian.
    I know the basics of business - but why withdraw it totally leaving many thousands of people high and dry?
    Leaving it "as is" and unsupported would not cost a cent but the nonsense they are getting up to is alienating a LOT of people.
    Personally I think that a subsidiarity is going to come out with ArtCAM wrapped in a new dress and a more profitable business model in the near future.
    Or maybe they will "sell" it to a new company that is owned by them behind the scenes.
    In the meantime all us folk are basically screwed - not nice of the bean-counters is it.
    So we go open source and see what we can do.
    If it works it works - if not we look for alternatives is all.

  15. #15
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    It's a strange one this decision
    http://danielscnc.webs.com/

    being disabled is not a hindrance it gives you attitude
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  16. #16
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by MadAubrey View Post
    I know the basics of business - but why withdraw it totally leaving many thousands of people high and dry?
    Leaving it "as is" and unsupported would not cost a cent but the nonsense they are getting up to is alienating a LOT of people.
    Personally I think that a subsidiarity is going to come out with ArtCAM wrapped in a new dress and a more profitable business model in the near future.
    Or maybe they will "sell" it to a new company that is owned by them behind the scenes.
    In the meantime all us folk are basically screwed - not nice of the bean-counters is it.
    So we go open source and see what we can do.
    If it works it works - if not we look for alternatives is all.
    Hi, it possibly could be that they want to promote the increased use of another product.......I don't know their product range .........that has been deeply financed and is not returning a quick enough investment gain.

    Back in the 60's British Leyland discontinued the production of the very successful Morris Minor 1000 car in favour of the new Morris 1100 range.

    Some businesses rely on the 80/20 rule to invest in a product range......supermarkets are a prime example of this strategy.

    When 80% of your profits are derived from 20% of your product range.......the other 80% are prime targets for reduction.
    Ian.

  17. #17
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    They make some strange decision Ian the last one I ask who needs fired it was a bad one
    http://danielscnc.webs.com/

    being disabled is not a hindrance it gives you attitude
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  18. #18
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Hi, it possibly could be that they want to promote the increased use of another product.
    My guess is that they just weren't selling enough subscriptions. The Pro or top level version was way overpriced, imo.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  19. #19

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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by MadAubrey View Post
    Hi guys
    This whole ArtCAM story is a real pain in the butt.
    I wasn't taking note so I actually missed it - ordered all the parts for a LowRider (all on the water as we speak) and while I am waiting, went to download and install ArtCAM.
    That is when I found out...
    The thing is that I want to do bas-relief work and Artcam was the most viable (and recommended ) solution cost wise - you SA guys will understand what paying in $$$ can be like.
    Yes, there are other packages out there but...
    I have seen some tutorials about doing photo to bas using Blender but the learning curve on Blender is ridiculous!!!
    So I thought about it and came up with the following points after asking the question "How does it actually work?" (converting an image to G-Code that is)
    1. Get the image you want to use.
    2. Convert it to grey-scale.
    3. Figure out the final dimensions (width, length, height of relief) and feed them in.
    4. Set stuff like tool diameter, shape, max cut depth, feed speed etc etc
    5. Using bas relief height, work out the height of each color [ height of relief for black, 0 for white and increment by (1/255) * grey value for the rest ]
    6. Using tool diameter figure out how far each linear step needs to be and how far each step-over should be.
    7. Work out the tool path and generate the G-Code in one process.

    OK, I have made it sound one heck of a lot more simple than it actually is but you get the idea.
    Now the last time I did something as calculation heavy as this, Visual Basic 4 was the "flavor of the day" - but I still have a copy of VB6 so...
    Well it would not install on Win7pro so I got Visual Studio and installed that and started.
    Got the image to grey working, and the resize image to width/length and just started figuring out how I was going to figure out the tool path when Visual Studio went bezerk and screwed up my PC for me.
    Now here is the thing:
    Essentially what I outlined is exactly what all these "image to bas" programs do basically.
    Yes there are probably some clever bits that read ahead and alter the path height or whatever but it is not "magic" - they all start out with the image and convert it to G-Code and use some clever inline processes along the way.
    And all us hobby machinists that would like to do bas work need something like this - NOT the uber costly "Professional" software licenses that the bean-counters are holding us to ransom for these days - and then taking off the market.
    As I said, I tried in VB but as any developer will tell you, if you don't use it you loose it and my VB skills have not been used for about 20 years.
    So I want to do it in PHP and see what I can get going. (I am a web developer and I use PHP exclusively)
    But with PHP there is one problem: it is going to take more than 30 seconds to do the whole process and the browser will DEFINITELY time out on even a small image.
    Now, I have figured out a way around that and once my LowRider is up and running (maybe about August I hope) I'm going to start developing.
    Anyone else interested in collaborating?
    We will need math algorithm geniuses and probably a bunch of "testers"... (group)
    Howzit, there is a simpler way to generate G-code using inkscape. Inkscape is also open source, so a person that knows how could use the source code from github that pertains to the " decoding " of the G-code from JPG, DXF and so forth. Here is a link to a youtube vid that I found when looking for a similar solution, hope this helps.

  20. #20

    Re: Artcam replacement

    Hi Aubrey, I would love to know how you manage to create a proper 3D Grayscale from a photo? Which software are you using?

  21. #21
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by Schoembie View Post
    Hi Aubrey, I would love to know how you manage to create a proper 3D Grayscale from a photo? Which software are you using?
    Hi
    There are any number of ways to do it.
    GIMP, Photoshop or any other image processing program can do it.
    Blender can but Blender has an almost impossible learning curve unfortunately.
    (for me anyway)
    Programmatically I have done it in using the Microsoft "Visual Studio" development suite.
    If I were to make a serious attempt to emulate the ArtCAM process I would use PHP and the Imagick library processing functionality simply because I "speak" fluent PHP and use it every day.
    The fact that most web servers are FAR more powerful than my PC also makes the PHP route far more attractive.
    However it is not simply a case of making it Greyscale and using the image to generate the height-map and then generating the tool path G-code.
    If it was then that would be easy (relatively speaking anyway).
    For example if we took an image of a Japanese Geisha girl and did a simple Greyscale conversion and used that to generate a tool path then consider this:
    Her face is white which then translates into a shallow cut.
    BUT her lips are a dark red which converts to a grey that is pretty dark.
    A dark grey translates to a much deeper tool path which would mean that her lips would be indented and that would give a ridiculous looking result when machined.
    ArtCAM somehow got around that using a processing step between generating the Greyscale and generating the tool path.
    That process probably takes a look at the surrounding topography and somehow figures out that if a darker area (the lips in this case) is surrounded by a much lighter area (the white face) then the Heightmap for the lips needs to be inverted.
    In other words it needs to be shallower than the "face" and "stick out" of the "face".
    This is what they have gotten right in ArtCAM (and other expensive utilities) but I have not been able to find an open source project that has this sort of algorithm.
    Once I know HOW they do it then emulating the process in PHP, Visual Studio or whatever would be relatively easy.
    It would involve some pretty convoluted decision processing in the code but that is what computers do for us.
    So what we need is someone who has the knowledge of just how the conversion from Greyscale to Heightmap works and to share that insight with us so that we can carry on and get this thing done.
    The "obvious" approach is to establish the outer perimeter of the "face" and invert the direction of sudden and large changes towards the darker greys - that would work on the lips but what about the eyes?
    On the eyes the makeup is darker than the face but the eyes are in fact recessed into the surface of the face so there a "simple single" processing rule would not give the required result.
    Everyone needs to remember that humans recognize that it is a face and "knows" that the lips protrude and the eyes are recessed but all a computer "sees" is a shade of grey for one pixel.
    We need an algorithm that will allow the conversion process to do what a human does so easily and that is where the difficulty is.
    Computers without a program written by a human are infinitely less intelligent than even an ant so somehow we have to be able to "tell" it what to do programmatically.
    ArtCam and others have figured that out - we need to know HOW they do it.

  22. #22
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    there are numerous softwares to use now, litefire, openbuilds, benbox, and few others, I received my software from Neotronics SA, however there are some free versions and paid versions.

  23. #23
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    ArtCAM has re-emerged with a new name, CarveCo.

    They had an introductory offer of $1600, but the regular price is back to what ArtCAM Pro used to cost.

    https://carveco.com/
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  24. #24
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    In my experience it's all about file extensions. what is compatible with what u used to drawing in may not be transferable to ones cam programme.
    Also trying convert raster to vector on certain artwork.
    One need good simulation of work to be carried out.

  25. #25
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    Re: Artcam replacement

    Hi, after the time has passed I've lost track of what is wanted, and going back and reading the previous 24 posts is a bit time consuming.

    Are you trying to produce a 3D image file from a 2D photo, sketch, image etc ….whatever....using an art interpretation program to interpret the grey scale range as the high and low points for a carving or machining exercise?

    Humans do it automatically once they recognise the 2D object as something that is familiar in the real 3D World......it's all a matter of highlights and shadow as my art mistress used to impress on me when I was at school and I couldn't for the life of me sketch a human face and give it substance......cartooning in 2D after a crude fashion yes, but actual 3D representation to the eye...….Uh Uh...you need to be a born artist to do that.

    But I may be completely off the track...…..supposing you create something, and this is where you are dealing in the abstract and not an actual photographic image.....and as it is not an actual "thing" that occurs in Nature but in your mind, you can imagine the shape even though it is an abstract form because you created it with highlights and shadows to represent the shape and so it is recognisable......but not only to you but to anyone else who can interpret depth by shadow and highlight density.

    If you draw something with Fusion 360..... for example a ball.... it's a wire frame drawing with many points of interest for interpretation..…...you can only give it shape in 3 planes and therefore it has substance in a pseudo 3D format......it's the program that constructs the multi wire form in 3 planes and automatically presents it with shadow and highlight values that you will recognise.

    To then make it on a machine the drawing program needs to break it down to a set of G code values for the total wire frame points that the machine control program understands.

    I would say that if the scanned 2D picture with shadows and highlights is not totally recognisable by the program it will not translate to a 3 D image when you try to carve it or machine it...….but you could hand carve it as a sculptor or an artist would because we have a more superior brain than a CAM program and do a literal translation of the object as we see it.

    BTW, the picture of a Geisha girl's face, even though completely white, WOULD translate to a 3D image because it would have subtle highlights on that white area that indicates the contour of the face, but the eye is not that sensitive to the highlights, it's the brain that interprets them to give you the image, and any scanning device has to be sensitive enough to detect those highlights too and so construct the contour file.
    Ian.

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