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IndustryArena Forum > CAM Software > Uncategorised CAM Discussion > Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?
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  1. #1
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    Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Currently I'm using fusion 360 which us free for a hobbiest and it's been great. So far it has been able to do anything I want, but now that I've added a 4th axis to my machine, the cam is a bit lacking. Handles 3+1 just fine and a few other things like tool path wrap, but isn't currently able to do a lot of 4 axis simultaneous stuff that I would like. I've seen videos of cheaper machines like the stepcraft doing simultaneous 4 on complex shapes so I assume there must be some cheap cam programs out there that can do it. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Subscribed. All the fancy 5A stuff but 4A seems to be sadly lacking in Fusion, you can wrap a couple of operations but that seems to be about it. For what it's worth, even at $20k a seat, PTC Creo was pretty rubbish at 4A continuous too. Dunno about you but all I wanted was to be able to do lathe like operations using the 4A and a rotating cutter in the mill.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dharmic View Post
    Subscribed. All the fancy 5A stuff but 4A seems to be sadly lacking in Fusion, you can wrap a couple of operations but that seems to be about it. For what it's worth, even at $20k a seat, PTC Creo was pretty rubbish at 4A continuous too. Dunno about you but all I wanted was to be able to do lathe like operations using the 4A and a rotating cutter in the mill.
    Yep, that's one of the things I'd like to do, pretty much run it like a lathe, but also with parts that aren't round. I'll be able to do quite a bit with indexing since I'll be able to blend 3d from one side to the next much easier than flipping it into a soft jaw, but still it would be nice if it could continuously turn while managing x and z for a truly seamless cut all the way around

  4. #4
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    DeskProto can do it, using Mesh models.
    Gerry

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

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    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
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    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    DeskProto can do it, using Mesh models.
    Great! I'll check it out

    Looks like it's geared more towards just complex carving and not so much basic machining. Haven't looked at it much yet, but hopefully it would also be good for indexing and basic pockets, drilling, etc. Since it uses an stl, I'm assuming you cant just pick an edge, flat face, or hole and give it a simple contour, facing, or drilling op. I would probably need to use a combination of fusion 360 for basic machining, then finish the complex areas of the part with deskproto. I suppose if I was trying to program a part that I would machine many times, it wouldn't be a big deal to spend the extra time doing it partly in fusion, partly in deskproto, paste the one onto the end of other and have complete gcode for the part.
    Still would be nice if fusion just had a couple more 4 axis features. Seems like they are so close. There's actually work arounds to get it to do complex 4 axis surfacing, I think using flow. It's just kind of glitchy and has some issues like controlling direction of cut, starting point, step, over etc.

  6. #6
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Probably doesn't fall into your cheap/free range, though.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
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    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)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    Probably doesn't fall into your cheap/free range, though.
    For the hobbiest version, i would definitely consider a few hundred bucks cheap compared to 20k software, so it's definitely an option to consider. Just wish it was also geared a bit more towards basic machining as well.

  8. #8
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    The new 7.0 version of DeskProto does have a lot more of the basic 2.5D CAM functions - pocketing, drilling, etc,- than previous versions had. If you haven't looked at it recently, you might check again. It's cheap compared to other programs that support continuous 4-axis machining, and if you're a hobbyist, it's much cheaper - we sell the multi-axis version for $248 to them (unless the dollar falls further against the euro, in which case it will have to go up.)
    Andrew Werby
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    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    The new 7.0 version of DeskProto does have a lot more of the basic 2.5D CAM functions - pocketing, drilling, etc,- than previous versions had. If you haven't looked at it recently, you might check again. It's cheap compared to other programs that support continuous 4-axis machining, and if you're a hobbyist, it's much cheaper - we sell the multi-axis version for $248 to them (unless the dollar falls further against the euro, in which case it will have to go up.)
    Good to hear! I'll look into it for sure. I guess I just pictured it being less simple to select specific edges, corners, faces, etc. When working with an stl. I'll just have to see how it works.

  10. #10
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    I guess I just pictured it being less simple to select specific edges, corners, faces, etc. When working with an stl. I'll just have to see how it works.
    I would think the process would be automated. It would be nearly impossible to select edges in an .stl.
    I'm assuming it works like MeshCAM, which has hole detection and arc detection with .stl files.
    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)

  11. #11
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Deskproto doesn't have feature recognition; it treats the whole STL mesh as a single object. Its pockets and holes are driven by separate DXF input. If you need to select edges, etc,that works much better with a different kind of file format, like IGES or STEP, and requires a different sort of CAM program.
    Andrew Werby
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    Deskproto doesn't have feature recognition; it treats the whole STL mesh as a single object. Its pockets and holes are driven by separate DXF input. If you need to select edges, etc,that works much better with a different kind of file format, like IGES or STEP, and requires a different sort of CAM program.
    Yep, that's what I figured. So probably best to take my parts as far as possible in fusion and then finish the 3d stuff in deskproto. Although after using my 4th axis the last few days, I'm actually getting quite good results blending separate 3d ops with indexing in fusion. I pictured it being hard to get walls to blend, but once my y zero was dialed in perfectly on 4th axis,there is really no visible seam and getting that dialed in with test cuts is a one time thing, now it's permanently my g55. Still I'm sure turning type 3d tool paths look nicer than 3 axis on round features.

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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    I have been looking for the same thing recently. It looks like the situation hasn’t changed much in 2023. There is still no free CAM software for simultaneous 4-axis.
    The least expensive commercial options I was able to find are:


    - For polygon meshes and organic shapes - DeskProto - $1100


    - For NURBS geometry - Visual CAD/CAM Expert - $2500

  14. #14
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Hi Storen - Have you looked at FreeCAD? Peter

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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Quote Originally Posted by peteeng View Post
    Hi Storen - Have you looked at FreeCAD? Peter
    Hi Peter, good call! Thank you for mentioning FreeCAD. A couple of months ago I installed a copy and went over the features and the documentation. I have to admit I must have overlooked the 4th-axis functions.

    Frankly, I was very annoyed with the software and didn’t spend a long time experimenting with it. The interface is a complete mess... The main developers either don't care or like it this way. A while ago there were a couple of interface designers offering to help improve the UI but received zero support from the developers. Additionally, it is very poorly documented. I found I am spending more time fighting the software for very basic operations than doing something useful with it.

    However, if the most affordable commercial alternative is 2.5K I feel I should give it a second try before I decide. I can see how it can be an attractive option for intermittent noncommercial users. When choosing between selling a kidney, installing a cracked copy, or using an open-source application with a terrible interface and documentation many will choose the latter.

  16. #16
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    I've been testing the FreeCAD CAM functions for the past couple of days. The results are discouraging. It seems the software is in a very early experimental (alpha) stage. The functionality is very limited, the code is buggy, and the program frequently crashes, freezes, and displays error messages for no apparent reason. It is even more problematic when working with imported complex models. Unfortunately, I have to scratch FreeCAD from the list of options.

  17. #17
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Hi,
    I use Fusion and have had a basic subscription for several years. A few months ago I bought an introductory offer (25% discount) of the Machining Extensions
    which handle genuine four and five axis, collision avoidance , toolpath editing etc. So far I have found it very good. The only 'fly in the ointment' is the cost.....$1600USD/year,
    and that's over and above the basic subscription.

    I've done some research and actually $1600/year is very competitive among the serious contenders, and that's why I got it. Whether I can justify renewing the subscription
    when it comes due at the end of July remains to be seen.

    Craig

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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    I use Fusion and have had a basic subscription for several years.
    According to the information on the Autodesk site, the discounts apply for one year only and cannot be extended. The Full price of a one-year subscription for Fusion 360 Machining is $2145 ($545+$1600). The price with the discount is $1502 ($382+$1120).
    So in the best case (discounts), the subscription for two years is $3647. Of course, you will have to continue paying if you want to use the software further.


    The Visual CAM license is perpetual - $2500. I haven't used Visual CAM personally but based on the information I was able to find it is significantly more powerful with more functions than the HSM CAM modules included in Fusion 360. Overall Visual CAM seems a better deal.
    The main advantage of Fusion is that comes with CAD modeling tools, however, if you use different CAD paying these annual subscription fees would be difficult to justify.


    What surprises me the most is with so many CAM options competing on the market there is nothing cheaper than $2500 and there isn't even one noncommercial option (NURBS).

  19. #19
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    I sell the Expert edition of Mecsoft's VisualCADCAM (which includes the 4th axis functions) for $2250, so that's a little cheaper. And the commercial multi-axis version of Deskproto is $950, if you get it from me. https://computersculpture.com/tool-paths
    Andrew Werby
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    Re: Any options for cheap/free 4 axis simultaneous cam?

    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    I sell the Expert edition of Mecsoft's VisualCADCAM (which includes the 4th axis functions) for $2250, so that's a little cheaper. And the commercial multi-axis version of Deskproto is $950, if you get it from me. https://computersculpture.com/tool-paths
    Awesome! I assume you are an expert user of Visual CAM. Have you tried the latest Fusion 4-axis functions? I wonder how both products compare in terms of continuous 4-axis milling. What would be the main advantages of Visual CAM?

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