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Onshape CAM?

christian_lewischristian_lewis Member Posts: 5
Hi Everyone,
I'm just entering the CNC machining world, I've been following it for a number of years but never had the money or the time in the right combination to get a machine and use it, but now I'm attacking it at full force. Anyway, I'm trying to sort out my software packages and I really really like Onshape so far, it can already do most of what I need so it's likely going to be my main/only CAD software. However, I have a problem - the price of CAM software is (lets be honest) a massive investment for software for a beginner machinist unless I can work with one of the questionable free products. So I was wondering if the Onshape team has any plans to extend into the CAM process in the future. Obviously that future is far enough away that I'll have to settle for something else for the meantime, but I'd really love to see the Onshape team revolutionise CAM in the future, so how about it?

Thank you so much for what you're doing to CAD, I love it.


  • awkawk Member, Onshape Employees, Developers Posts: 78
    I was a backer of the Carbide 3D Nomad mill on Kickstarter (http://carbide3d.com) and received my mill a couple of months ago. I've been very happy with the MeshCam (http://grzsoftware.com) that was included with the mill. I'm no CNC expert (but I know a few around the office :-) but the quality of output from the Nomad & Meshcam has been very good. I designed parts in Onshape and exported as STL - then bought them into Meshcam for gcode creation etc. For 2.5 axis milling it's been great.

    Meshcam has a trial and retails for $250 - which I think is quite a bit cheaper than other solutions though I've no doubt that it has limitations that more expensive products don't have.

    Onshape has announced partnerships with Mastercam & Solidcam  (https://www.onshape.com/partners/technology) however there's nothing I can say beyond what's already on the website.
    Director of API, Appstore, and App Partner Technical Support
  • christian_lewischristian_lewis Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the reply Andrew. That Carbide 3D mill looks like a whole bucket load of fun, I've always loved the look of the gantry style mills (I'm using a vertical column mill).

    $250 is far cheaper than even the low end of everything else that I've seen, I'll certainly give Meshcam a good go. Hopefully it's the solution for me.

    Oh, okay. That makes me feel confident that there's going to be something happening here with CAM as well.
  • david_sohlstromdavid_sohlstrom Member, Mentor Posts: 159 ✭✭✭
    @Christian_Lewis  If you are doing mostly 2.5D and simple 3D machining take a look at CamBam.com  It is a good beginning CAM and you can run 40 Gcode files before you need to purchase it if you wish to continue. It has a price lower than Meshcam.

    David Sohlstrom

    Ariel, WA
  • chris_aicherchris_aicher OS Professional, User Group Leader Posts: 23 PRO
    I just checked, it's www.cambam.info
    Chris Aicher
    [email protected]
    Tigard, OR
  • spiked3spiked3 Member Posts: 34
    Side note: I did the live bridge between CamBam and Alibre. If you had started a cam job, you could go back to alibre and make a simple change (like a hole placement or diameter) and it was instantly reflect in CamBam without needing manual intervention.  It actually was a quite popular add-on as it mimicked the high dollar stuff to some extent.  As long as a similar API is in Onshape, expect the same :)
    Mike Partain aka Spiked3
  • kirk_2kirk_2 Member Posts: 34
    I've been using CamBam since 2009.  Does everything I need very well and is quite intuitive.  When I got SW I have access to HSMXpress, but haven't really found any reason to switch over.  I do 2.5D machining almost entirely, hence need for DXF export as already expressed.
  • christian_lewischristian_lewis Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the advice guys. I've tried out MeshCam and it's not quite to the standard I'm looking for in the 2.5D and 3D strategy departments. I kept digging and through all the different pages and things that Autodesk has I found Fusion 360 which is perfect for all my 2.5D and 3D needs (although I can't seem to import STL files from Onshape and do cam work on them). One other concern I have, it's a bit of a stretch for me now, but in the future I would like to add a 4th axis to my machine for screw driver handles and the like, and Fusion 360 can't do 4th axis programming. I then realised I still have free student access to Inventor HSM Pro, which is nice, but I would like to start selling things in the future.

    So I guess I don't really have a specific question from this point I know I'll likely have to fork out a bucket of cash for 4th axis control (maybe Sprutcam? I watch a lot of 'NYC CNC' on youtube), I'm just open for anyone's ideas and brain candy on the topic and so this thread can be handy for anyone else in the same position. So again, thanks for the advice everyone.
  • colemancoleman OS Professional Posts: 244 ✭✭✭
    edited March 2015
    My advice is to get a more expensive CAM software and hold off on the 4th axis.  You can make MOST 4th axis parts on a 3 axis mill with multiple setups and creativity.  Sprutcam is a waste of time.  Buy quality CNC machine tools USED.  There are tons a great deals on used equipment.  If you cannot justify a serious CAM package learn to program manually.  Most features can be programmed in a text editor or at the machine control.

    Get a good CAM package and learn it well.  I use Espirit by DP technology.  
  • christian_lewischristian_lewis Member Posts: 5
    @Coleman Are you saying get more expensive than Fusion 360? And if so, do you mean something more like Inventor HSM Pro? Because from my understanding that's a pretty darn high end suite. As for the 4th axis - sure a lot of the same can be achieved with multiple setups of a 3 axis, but when I start selling parts multiple setups is not a very efficient approach. For example, the countersink on the holes in this screw driver handle would require 6 setups to make sure the cutter is 90° to the tangent. Sure a hex collet block could make short work of that, but what if I change those round holes to a honeycomb pattern and have to chamfer them? I know this is getting quite specific, but I have every intention to make handles that could have these kinds of implications in machining.
  • christian_lewischristian_lewis Member Posts: 5
    edited March 2015
    I knew I would forget to attach the image in the last comment. XD
  • mevalemevale Member Posts: 22
    edited March 2015
    The only CAM you would ask for is the ones that uses TEA (Tool Engaged Angle) call it how you want it (volumetrix, truemill, adaptive, etc)
    The CAM that guarantee that the tool and machine will be used in optimal condition.
  • lowjacklowjack Member Posts: 14 ✭✭
    There's a ton of information on choosing a good CAM package (as well as a lot of related CNC software and info) over on cnccookbook.com - his blog, in fact, is the one that pointed me over here to Onshape. Apologies if you're already familiar with it, but I've found the info to be extremely helpful the last couple years, and I only do design engineering.

  • juan_avilesjuan_aviles Member Posts: 78 ✭✭
    @coleman  I'm curious as to why you say SprutCAM is a waste of time.  Are you an owner or user of SprutCAM?  I'm also curious as to why you say "Stay away from PCNC's" (I'm assuming you mean Tormach).  Are you an owner or user of PCNC machines?
  • david_sohlstromdavid_sohlstrom Member, Mentor Posts: 159 ✭✭✭
    @coleman  I got news for you SprutCAM9 Is a good lower cost CAM package that works very well for me. I also own a Tormach 770 PCNC that does a very good job for me. My shop and budget will not handle a bigger machine or a more costly CAM package.

    David Sohlstrom

    Ariel, WA
  • colemancoleman OS Professional Posts: 244 ✭✭✭
    @juan_aviles  I was an owner of sprutCAM.  I was also an owner of a PCNC.....I gave it to a university (who eventually sold it for peanuts).  This post was about someone who was trying to run production parts.  A PCNC is a personal CNC.  Im sure they are wonderful for some users, in certain applications.  In my opinion, its best not to build a business around a personal CNC.  There are thousands of used production quality CNC machines that are the same price and more economical than a new personal CNC.

    @david_sohlstrom I am happy to hear sprutCAM9 and the Torch 770 are working for you!  Its a great time we live in where we can leverage technology to make amazing things and turn ideas into actual things!  

    I am certain Onshape is going to be a game changer in our industry.  

  • juan_avilesjuan_aviles Member Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited June 2015
    @coleman  My mistake.  I thought from his first post that @christian_lewis was just entering the world of CNC which is why I didn't understand your comment to stay away from PCNC's.  Like @david_sohlstrom , I'm also a SprutCAM and 770 owner.  While SprutCAM has worked out fantastically for me, I understand the frustration it causes others.  I'd also like to see what OnShape is planning for CAM since I really prefer the way it models over Fusion 360. 
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