Alibre vs Vectric

I see that in the Black Friday mailer that there is a link to Alibre.

Is C3D advocating the use of Alibre?

Since Alibre is much cheaper than Vectric offerings, how easy is it to transition?

Is it worth the time investment to learn the new software?

I’m very comfortable with Vectric V Carve Desktop, is Alibre as easy to use?

Any insights would be much appreciated.



These are very different types of software. Alibre is a 3D CAD package, similar to Fusion 360. Vetric’s products are 2.5D design programs that have been extended over time to have 3D features. If you just need to design stuff from vectors or basic shapes, stick with Vetric. It is far easier to use than almost any CAD package. However if you need to design 3D objects then a CAD package is needed. For any given project I go from one to the other based on my design needs.


If you look on Alibre’s website, the Workshop products is a CAD environment (which looks good) that is used alongside Meshcam for CAM. I think the connection with Carbide 3D is @robgrz as Meshcam is published by Grz Software. Workshop not being an integrated package (from what I can see) is different from Vectric which is. It will come down to personal choice, cost or whatever factors matter to you.

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As folks have noted, they are very different programs:

  • Vectric is oriented towards for decorative work on flat pieces from which material is cut away as it will be on the machine
  • Alibre is a blank 3D working area in which one can model in 3D parts and components which can fit together and interact — usually with the intention of doing mechanical work with them

I wrote a really basic tutorial on using Alibre for parametric design at:

and did try to put together:

which might be of interest.

Reading up on Alibre, and the add-ins it supports, reveals a very interesting product: SprutCAM. This is a CAD and CAM solution that on first glance appears more akin to Fusion 360 or Solidworks than anything else. Performs up to 5 axis machining with collision detection, REST, Adaptive and Additive capabilities. Interesting…

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Yes, until one goes to the website and there’s no pricing, just a “Request a Quote” page.

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I’ve asked. Will be sure I am seated when the £number comes back :wink: just in case…

One of the best things about C3D is the responsiveness of the support staff and user community. Post a question and “bam” you get great info back. I can’t imagine this happens with other cnc products.

At any rate, thank all of you for clarifying the Alibre vs Vectric question I posted. I’ll be staying with Vectric and save my money to upgrade from V Carve Desktop.

Again, thank each of you very much.


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Remember Vetric credits your older product price for upgrades.


SprutCAM will not (they do not allow it to) run inside a Virtual Machine. As I am MAC based, any Windows application must run inside VMWare Fusion… Vectric does, Carbide software does (although the Native MAC versions are obviously better).
Given this, SprutCAM is a no-go for me no matter how good it is.

A better solution than VMs that I’ve found is just run a PC in a closet with Windows 10 Pro on it, then you can remote into it with the Microsoft Remote Desktop client for Mac, which works really well. Well enough to run Vcarve anyway. You could get a machine to do this for $300 or under from a local refurbisher, and it will definitely have more ram than your Mac.

I don’t find the RDP client works well at all at higher screen resolutions. My iMac Pro is a 5K screen and slows RDP from ‘OK’ to ‘something must be wrong’ latency - I use my MAC to RDP host my company laptop console so my office doesn’t have multiple, single use screens.
The other factor is data and software backups - with the VM I can use my existing TimePort facilities and have everything sorted in the one solution. Everyone’s mileage will vary, but having a PC just for one task or software doesn’t sit well with me or offer a greener energy footprint.

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Strange, I mostly use it on my MBA M1 and a 11 year old 27" iMac in the shop, and that’s over a point to point wifi connection too. Not exactly the same resolution, but I’m not super surprised the MS client chokes on 5K. The machine I use runs Blue Iris 24/7 for cameras so the energy footprint is happening regardless.

Useful to have the details: SprutCAM with Rotary £2,315 + VAT is the answer, single seat, no VM host permitted.

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