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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to CNC routing and want to experiment with 3D carving. I cannot justify $1400 for Aspire for what is just a hobby at this point. I understand it is a great tool, and if this becomes a money making venture, I would surely invest.

...in the mean time. Does anyone have any alternatives to Aspire? I would like to make simple 3D carvings as I learn more about the craft without sleeping on the couch when my wife sees the credit card statement.

I am not looking for super complex modeling, just for creating 3D carving for jewelry boxes and such as gifts.

Any suggestions are appreciated.
 

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A good portion of the cost of Aspire is for the modeling tools. These tools are specifically designed for creating 3D reliefs. Aspire is actually cheaper than other packages with similar tools (CarveCO, Enroute, ...)

If you just want to carve models created by others (Which is what most people do), you don't need Aspire. You can import 3D models into V Carve Pro and carve them.
And there are other cheaper CAM programs than can carve 3D models. MeshCAM, CamBam, DeskProto, and others.

If you want to create your own models, there are many inexpensive or even free 3D modeling programs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A good portion of the cost of Aspire is for the modeling tools. These tools are specifically designed for creating 3D reliefs. Aspire is actually cheaper than other packages with similar tools (CarveCO, Enroute, ...)

If you just want to carve models created by others (Which is what most people do), you don't need Aspire. You can import 3D models into V Carve Pro and carve them.
And there are other cheaper CAM programs than can carve 3D models. MeshCAM, CamBam, DeskProto, and others.

If you want to create your own models, there are many inexpensive or even free 3D modeling programs.
thank you for the feedback ger21

I have started to experiment with STL files that I have downloaded (and I have seen many great ones for very little $ online). I would like to create my own, very simple models. It is not that I don't think Aspire is worth the money. Like I said, if I ever start selling my work I intend on purchasing the product. I saw some really helpful tutorials on YouTube that show how simple the software is the to use.

Do you have any suggestions on any other 3D modeling software. I don't mind shelling out a couple hundred bucks as I learn, I just want to know I am committed to this before I go all in. I have been woodworking for over 20 years and have quite the shop build up. I have always dipped a toe into new techniques before going overboard with equipment and software.
 

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From a software perspective, as long as you are not selling your projects, you can get Fusion 360 free... if you do start selling products, I believe a small business/commercial license is $400 a year or so. Looks like you don't need a big machine based on what you are talking about. But it is a rabbit hole.. once you go down it.. things only get bigger and more expensive :)
 

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In addition to Fusion 360, here's a few others.
Hexagon - Hexagon BETA | 3D Models and 3D Software by Daz 3D
Blender - blender.org - Home of the Blender project - Free and Open 3D Creation Software
Rocket 3F - Home

Blender if free, and incredibly powerful. With a very steep learning curve.

Also, be aware that these are true 3D modeling programs. Aspire is a relief modeler, so you'll find the tools to be very different.

And if you weren't aware, you can download a free trial of Aspire to learn and compare it to others.
 

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Welcome to the Router Forums Steve.

You don't say what CNC you have but if you want to start carving 3D projects using stl models you purchase or find for free on the internet you could start with Vectric VCarve Desktop ($349) that would allow you to make projects up to 24X24. It also comes with a few 3D models to get you started.

You can also upgrade to VCarve Pro and do larger projects without to 24X24 size limit and/or later upgrade to Aspire so you can do 3D relief modeling. The upgrades only cost you the difference between the two software packages.

You can download any of Vectric's software trials here:

 
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Welcome aboard to the cnc addiction.

Ger mentioned Blender 3d, which is one of the programs I primarily use for making my cnc patterns. It is suite of capabilities wrapped up in one program which makes it incredibly powerful but also incredibly hard to master but you only need one or two of the capabilities for cnc pattern creation. Having said that it does a wonderful job at creating bas relief patterns for me. I export my 3d models as either STL files or bas relief grey scale depth map images. My cnc software can use either or and most of the cnc software can as well.

But, since it is free and if you are willing to spend some time doing learning online (YouTube is my primary teacher) it has few limits on what you can make. The program can do polygonal modeling, digital sculpting, animation, sound editing, video editing, video compositing, 2d drawing, 2d animation, visual effects, and the list goes on.

From that list you really only need the polygonal modeling and digital sculpting to make cnc patterns. The rest is pretty awesome though. I am fairly addicted to 3d modeling.

As an example, here is one of my models used which I used to create a cnc pattern.

396475


396477
 

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Take a look at Carveco Maker, $15/mo on subscription basis and updated regularly. I believe it competes in the same class as V-Carve Pro.

David
I was wondering about that. I have Carveco maker but was thinking of getting Vcarve hobby then found out it's only for a 2x2 machine and Vcarve pro is close to a thousand dollars for me in Canada. So what is the difference between Carco maker and Vcarve pro?
Only thing with Carveco is their dosen't seem to be a lot of tutorials out there.
 

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Never used CarveCo, but looking at the website, I'd say that CarveCo Maker Plus is more like V Carve Pro. It adds features like Nesting, Toolpath Templates and other features that V Carve Pro has the CarveCo Maker does not.
But when you get to $50/month, V Carve Pro is more attractive.

As a Vectric user, I'd say it's very hard to beat CarveCo Maker for someone just starting out. It appears to have most of the V Carve Pro design and toolpath tools, and is only lacking in the "production" tools.
 

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Thanks Ger21. Good ol Ger21, Don't think there's any thing you don't know about cnc'ing lol, Remember you from the zone long long time ago. Helped me tons. Thanks.
My subscription is almost run out and haven't even used it :( and not sure how much software I need, All my 3d modeling can be done in other free programs. And I haven't finished my shop yet, Almost finished the CNC room thank heavens for that. Been a messed up year for so many.
 

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Carveco Maker can toolpath 3D STL files, and in fact, unlike VCarve Pro, you can import multiple 3D files. Carveco Maker+ can create 3d files just like Aspire. You can buy for $50/month or buy a perpetual license for $1200 (they still may honor the $999 Black Friday pricing). Carveco Maker+ is pretty close to Aspire, best you’ll find that can model and CAM 3D type reliefs (like Aspire). It is not a general purpose 3d modeler, geared to CNC routing. All of the software mentioned above, including Carveco Maker+ and Aspire require a lot of practice to get good or fast. Artistic talent helps tremendously. Nothing allows you to open a photograph and click a “make 3d” button, for example.
 

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I do most of my modeling in other apps so I wouldn't miss the modeling part in either aspire or carvco maker plus. Blender is becoming a top notch 3d modeler with sculpting getting close to Zbrush. And it's free. Right now I'm trying my hardest to save money, New work shop and needing new tools as well as my cnc machines is costing me a ton.
 
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