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software (CNC)

2446 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  TimPa
any 4th axis users here? one cnc manufacturer we are considering is recommending Rhino for the sw control on the 4th axis. and, they say I won't need aspire, that rhino can handle all the cnc needs.

comments please.
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Rhino alone won't do the job, you will need rhinoCAM to output the G-code. I'm not personally familiar with it but it is what our shop manager uses for our multicam CNC. That CNC doesn't have a 4th axis though so hopefully someone else will verify that RhinoCAM does output g-code for 4th axis work.
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Fusion 360 (free) and ArtCAM Standard (currently available for $180/year) can both create rotary tool paths as well.
Depending on what packages you get, Rhino + RhinoCam may be even more expensive than Aspire.
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Are you experienced with CAD software? A lot of people have a hard time understanding CAD drawing. You should see if there is a trial version of the software available to test to make sure that is the way you want to go.

As stated earlier with some programs you will also need a CAM program to output the gcode.

You did not say if you intend on doing 3D work (I know you were pointed to Rhino but they could be trying to sell you more than you need) A trial version of Aspire can be downloaded for testing but you might not need Aspire if you don't intend to do 3D work, VCarve Pro can also output rotary jobs.

Bottom line, test as many programs as you can before you buy one so you know if it will work for you.
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thanks for the inputs. being new to the cnc industry, I apologize for my lack of knowledge. my hopeful intention for the cnc is to mount a board to the lathe horizontal and machine a concave surface to the entire face (~7" x 16"). then rotate the board 180 degrees and machine the other face to a convex shape, resulting in a fairly consistently thickness board. then a 1" x 2" x 1/4" deep or so mortise on the convex shape.

the cnc mfr is telling me I need rhino to do this, as it was used to make this video.

will aspire do the process as described above? or do need the rhino

The cabriole leg he did in that video is not typical of what a 4th axis is used for, and there is nothing simple about actually making the indexed toolpaths needed. Several separate files, several different bits used, a mastery of 3D visualization to both create the initial 3D file and then spin it in your mind to figure out how to approach each surface, etc. Ultimately you CAN use Aspire to make all the tool paths shown, but it won't be easy or obvious no matter which program you choose.

Aspire has wrapping gadgets for basic rotary work. It can also import 3D files to either "unwrap" it if not too complicated, or rotate to each face and cut as basic 3-axis 2D and 3D surface work. I could manage all that, but I'm not sure any of my students could. You've got all the basics, and some training. It will demand creativity and an understanding of how to control the 4th axis with your wood block clamped into it to make a similar thing.

Your described project is far simpler. Yes you can both create all the 3D parts within Aspire, and then create the toolpaths needed to make that vex/cave con part. Personally I'd just treat is as two X/Y/Z tool paths, and use a single g-code command to rotate the block 180 degrees before cutting the second side and mortise. G0A180 would probably be all you'd need to type into your controller.

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I looked at the files you described and the video. If this furniture leg is typical of what you plan to make on your CNC then the software you choose is important.

Rhino3D is a wonderful program for creating organic shapes. It is not so good for assemblies. In order to produce toolpaths from a Rhino file you would also need to use a plugin (either RhinoCAm or Crazy Cam). Rhino is (in my opinion) moderately easy to learn/use. There are many video tutorials.

Aspire is a program that will allow you to create a 3D shape and generate toolpaths from that shape. It is also not so good with assemblies but is perhaps the easiest to learn/use. There are many video tutorials and project available online.

Fusion360 is a powerful program that creates assemblies and organic shapes and toolpaths. It is (in my opinion) the hardest to learn and master. It is a web-based program so you must have internet available. One reason it is popular is that in many cases it is free to use.

There are many more programs to consider. The main thing to think about is what you need right now and what you will need in the future. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.

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Thank you all for your input!!!

I am a skeptic when dealing with salesmen when buying equipment - they always want to sell you more then you need. sometimes ruining the experience for you.

since I have started the effort to select a cnc to purchase, in my opinion, the software learning curve has to be the most critical obstacle in the ability to effectively run a cnc router (the hardware features are easy to wade through). all being the same, why not go with the most user friendly software. then after years of experience, another platform may seem more functional...
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