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IndustryArena Forum > WoodWorking Machines > DIY CNC Router Table Machines > CNC Router Parts > Software and Workflow for Avid CNC Pro 4x4 - Newbee Questions
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  1. #1
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    Software and Workflow for Avid CNC Pro 4x4 - Newbee Questions

    Hi, and thank you all in advance for your advice. I've had a Shaper Origin (SO)for a couple of years now and I'm preparing to take the plunge to purchase an Avid CNC 4x4 or 5x5 PRO with Avid CNC Rotary Axis. I'm mainly a hobbyist woodworker (but I've done paying jobs in the past) and my interests are building furniture, making wooden games (crokinole, Kubb/Viking chess, etc), some signs, and some 3D carving. I've put a constraint on this purchase that I won't buy the machine until I have a firm grasp on the software and workflow that it will take to run it, as well as building up a small library of projects ready to route once I have the machine purchased and up and running.

    For the Shaper Origin, I've designed a few projects in Fusion 360 making use of parametric design, and free software called Vectr. By-in-large, I export into the SO and do most of the decision making regarding depth of cut and tolerances for roughing and final passes just before starting my cuts at the tool. I.e.. I have a half a clue on the CAD portion of the learning curve ahead of me, but zero clue on the CAM component of what lies ahead.

    So my questions are...

    Would there be a benefit to investing my learning in Fusion 360 vs. Aspire? Or learn both?

    Does one or the other play better with Avid/Mach 4? I ask because I saw a YouTube of a design/CAM done in Fusion 360 crashing the CNC because it was programmed in Fusion 360 to go to the home position upon completion of the job; Fusion was set to X=0 which resulted in the Z-axis plunging into the table while the gantry was moving. My question here would be does Fusion define the home position or is the home position defined in Mach 4, and do they conflict with each other?

    What does the workflow look like in going from design to cutting on the tool and is Fusion 360 or Aspire preferred and why?


    What other software would be recommended?

    Sorry for the long post, but starting the journey is exciting and daunting and I just want to head down the right road as best I can... Any other comments or advice on getting started are also appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Bob

  2. #2
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    Re: Software and Workflow for Avid CNC Pro 4x4 - Newbee Questions

    Have you considered Vcarve as CAM software?It will do the CAM part of the job easily and quickly and is capable of 2D CAD as well.There may well be a suitable post processor for an Avid machine and it will cost a lot less than Aspire.You could then upgrade to aspire if it proves to be necessary and the screen features and operations are,as far as I have seen, identical.You can deal with 3D objects if you import them as .stl files.How much 3D work do you think you will be doing?

    If you already have experience with Fusion there will be every incentive to stick with it.If you saw a youtube video of a crash,you were watching a job done with incorrect parameters.Every CAM system I have seen allows the operator to select a retract height and at the completion of the operation I would expect the tool to move to that height and then to move to the home position.It is important to understand the distinction between the part datum position and the machine's home position.When designing the part it is your choice as to where you decide to place the part datum and while setting up the part on the machine you will need to determine the location of the part datum and enter that position in Mach4 (if that is your controller).

    If you can locate a post processor within Fusion there is no need to buy any CAM software and it will have no problem with opening files that have been created in Fusion.There ought to be enough tutorials online to get you on the right path but I can't recommend any because I use Freecad and LinuxCNC on my home machine and they work extremely well and at zero cost.I think you are following the correct path in learning more about the CAM aspect of the situation before buying the machine as it would be very frustrating to have a new machine and not much idea of what needs to be done to make things.

  3. #3
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    Re: Software and Workflow for Avid CNC Pro 4x4 - Newbee Questions

    Thanks for your reply. I've looked at Vcarve, I just wasn't sure if it would support the rotary axis/lathe component that I'm interested in getting into down the road. I've got a lot to tackle insofar as learning curve with CAD design and CAM for 3-axis routing, so the 4th axis stuff will be further down the road. Looks like Aspire is souped-up Vcarve, so if I can start with Vcarve and pay the difference to upgrade to Aspire, that may well be the best way to go... I'll check it out. Again, thank you for your reply, much appreciated.

  4. #4
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    Re: Software and Workflow for Avid CNC Pro 4x4 - Newbee Questions

    re: that youtube video
    Machine Home position is defined in Mach4. Fusion 360 is no more likely to crash a well set-up machine than any other software. There are a few of g-codes (G28 G53 G43) to be aware of but no need to worry at this stage.

    Aspire looks to be a very good software for modelling but pretty expensive if you primarily want it for it's CAM ability. If you have the artist's eye it might be a good fit. Fusion 360 also has sculpting but artistically I've never graduated much past rolling Plasticine into a ball.
    Anyone who says "It only goes together one way" has no imagination.

  5. #5
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    Re: Software and Workflow for Avid CNC Pro 4x4 - Newbee Questions

    Would there be a benefit to investing my learning in Fusion 360 vs. Aspire? Or learn both?
    The more advanced you become, the more you'll find that there is no one software that will do everything well.
    A lot of members here use Fusion 360, and a lot use Aspire. Both have their pros and cons.

    Aspire is much better at V Carving, while Fusion has much more advanced toopath options. Aspire has tools for modeling 3D reliefs, which Fusion does not, but overall, Fusion 360 is a much more powerful modeler.

    Does one or the other play better with Avid/Mach 4?
    No, both are the same. The key is the post processor, which formats the g-code to match your machine. You can edit the post processor in either machine.
    A lot of the default Fusion 360 post processors tend to send the machine to the Z axis home position, which causes issues for some people, but you can edit the post to remove this move.


    My question here would be does Fusion define the home position or is the home position defined in Mach 4, and do they conflict with each other?
    I believe you are talking about the origin, rather than "Home". Home is determined by the location of the machines home switches, and never changes.
    The origin is defined both in the software, and at the machine. At the machine, you typically jog the spindle to the desired origin position, and zero the X and Y axis. This sets what's known as a work offset.

    What does the workflow look like in going from design to cutting on the tool and is Fusion 360 or Aspire preferred and why?
    Both the same. Create toolpaths from design/model, and export g-code. Load g-code into Mach4.



    Since Fusion 360 is free, you might want to start there.
    However, Vectric products can be faster to program, as their are far fewer options, and they are designed specifically to create gcode for woodworking projects.

    As mentioned, you can start with V Carve Pro for a lot less money, and upgrade to Aspire at any time for the same cost as buying Aspire up front.
    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)

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