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Looking for a good CAM program that won’t break the bank.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by VoltsAndBolts, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. VoltsAndBolts

    VoltsAndBolts Senior Member

    I am looking for a good CAM program that won’t break the bank.

    Trying to keep it under $500

    Wondering what others are using or recommending. I know there are some partnered products listed on the website here but these may not be what I need or can afford.

    I have a good 2D (2-1/2D) cam I like but need something that will do 3D well. I was reading on the Dolphin CAM site (Mill Pro) has a plugin to import Alibre files directly. Anyone use Dolphin?


  2. dwc

    dwc Alibre Super User

    I use CAMBAM.
    It will do 3D from stl files, but I can't say how well or convenient it is as I have never used the 3D functions.
    VoltsAndBolts likes this.
  3. oldfox

    oldfox Alibre Super User

    Hey Volts,
    Check out MeshCam if you haven't already. Top level package is $500. I tried the lower level a couple of years ago. (only 2 tiers available)
    I didn't have a machine available to try it out on but the simulation worked perfectly on a few simple 3D objects I tried. They also have a 15 day
    free trial. I remember only one. It was a 3D (AD generated) wind turbine blade. I tried different lengths 2 ft. 4 ft. etc and they all worked out ok.

    Give it a look-see.
    VoltsAndBolts and Jonathan like this.
  4. VoltsAndBolts

    VoltsAndBolts Senior Member

    I will check out MeshCam. You'er not the first to recommend it.
    oldfox likes this.
  5. oldfox

    oldfox Alibre Super User

    I don't know how you work with CAD but I think you will like it.
  6. VoltsAndBolts

    VoltsAndBolts Senior Member

    At work it's easy, I design the part and send the info to the shop. And like magic a part shows up at my desk a few days later.

    At home I wear all the hats, I have a small manual lathe and mill, and a CNC router I built. I want to make more complex parts for prototyping. Mesh Cam looks good but I'm liking DeskProto
  7. oldfox

    oldfox Alibre Super User

    Wow. I wish my boards appeared that easily.:(

    I'm gonna check out DeskProto. I got the X & Y axes finished for a CNC PCB drill. Oh, but for just a few more hours in the day. Maybe I'll give up
    sleeping. Or start sleeping like Da Vinci did. Worked for him.
  8. VoltsAndBolts

    VoltsAndBolts Senior Member

    I stumbled on another CAM that might be us full to some. EstlCam.

    So as it stands right now I plan to try




  9. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    Delcam's Powermill.

    It will break the bank but nothing comes close for 3D!
  10. VoltsAndBolts

    VoltsAndBolts Senior Member

    Yep, that's a level or 2 above my budget! Looks great for production.
  11. Bazzer

    Bazzer Member


    I use BobCAD, it can be bought in the price range that you talk about with 3D capability. I produce many 3D forms that need a good finish, the machine and your knowledge have a big part to play in getting a finish right though.

    I will let you into a secret that most CAM vendors would prefer that you did not know, a huge number of the CAM programmes use a CAM kernel that is produced in Germany called Mouleworks.


    When you trial any of the packages that might use the Moduleworks kernel you will see a very familier GUI in the CAM side of things becuase a lot of them are the same underneath !! additional capabilities are licensed off Moduleworks by the CAM vendor and then passed onto you the customer.

    I would second what Bigseb said about Delcam Powermill and would further add the products from Open Mind, you will also notice that neither of those products are mentioned as partners of Moduleworks.

    I would also say that it is important that you are entirely comfortable with the CAD side of whatever package you acquire, you need to do boundaries etc to constrain cutter paths that have nothing to do with the original 3D model design intent.

    BobCAD is tricky to do the CAD side of things with but does give cheap access to the Module works kernal.

    The ultimate economy CAD/CAM package would be if a Moduleworks kernal was hooked up with MOI, it would finish off all of the lower end CAD/CAM packages.


    VoltsAndBolts likes this.
  12. jack_

    jack_ Member

    We use SprutCAM - fast support response, all problems with bugs are resolved within one week mostly, with frequent updates.

    Unfortunately I don't know the prices.
    Developed in Russia ;-) - maybe that's a blocking point for someone.
  13. ennech

    ennech Member

    I have used Meshcam for a number of years for producing foundry patterns using PU model board on a 3D router machine. I find that it has a number of pros compared with other 3D CAM programs but it needs to be watched carefully, it has a number of quirks. Not more than once it has tried to get my machine to machine the bottom of a pattern without first turning it over :)
  14. VoltsAndBolts

    VoltsAndBolts Senior Member

    That doesn't sound good.....
  15. MikeHenry

    MikeHenry Alibre Super User

    But sold and supported in the US by SprutCAMAmerica, which appears to be part of Tormach, the company that makes and sells garage-sized CNC machines. The version of SprutCAM that I bought with my Tormach mill supports 4th and 5th axis operations, turning, EDM, robotics, and some other metal manipulating machine types.

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