Aspire or V-carve pro

I’m fairly new to CNC have had my XXL for 6 or 8 months with a dozen projects under my belt. Actually more time doing machine mods then anything. Anyway I want to get more out of my machine then Carbide create can give me. I want true 3D abilities. So I’m looking at Aspire ($2000) vs V-carve Pro ($700).
I guess what I’m looking for is justification to spend the extra $1300 for Aspire. My plan is to use my equipment as a path of income when i retire in a few more years. So I plan on spending a lot of time between this and my laser.
So people using these two programs please give me some guideance as to which i should use.

If you want to make your own 3D component models, you need Aspire. If you just want to cut 3D models made by someone else, VCarve Pro.

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Here’s my 2 cents: VCarve Pro and Fusion 3D. Save $1300.

F3D is free to hobbyists, small biz under $100k annual revenue.

Many users here on the forum. Almost too much training on the web.

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Is Fusion 3D different then Fusion 360? How does fusion compare to Aspire?

Thanks Griff.

@HDRyder Sorry, Fusion 360.

I’m not the one to ask, I’ve never used Aspire. The price scared me away although I’m sure it’s a very capable package.

When I bought my SO3, Carbide Create was still in Beta so I started looking for alternatives. There are a Bunch out there, free and not. Google is your friend.

Despite F360’s steep learning curve, especially for old guys with zero CAD/CAM/CNC experience, I took the plunge. Primarily because of Autodesks reputation but also because Fusion 360 is an immensely capable CAD/CAM package that continues to evolve. I use it for my 3D printing efforts as well.

I didn’t stray from Carbide Motion until my machine mods forced me to, it’s quite capable.

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I would recommend V-Carve Pro, then upgrade to Aspire when you are ready. Vectric only charges the difference between versions when you upgrade. The trial versions are fully functional, but will not export toolpaths so you can try before you buy.

You could also use Fusion 360 or Sketchup for your 3D models.

This is the kind of information I’m looking for. I did not realize that you only paid the difference on an upgrade going to Aspire. I knew that was the case for V-carve desktop to pro. I will have to do some more research on Fusion 360. I was cringing at the $2K price tag for Aspire.

Can anyone tell me about the learning curve from V-carve Pro to Aspire verses the learning curve for Fusion 360?


I downloaded a trial version of Vcarve and I’ve tried a number of things including taking STL files and I think it is much easier to use than Fusion 360, Although I have been able to create some 3D objects in Fusion, I feel lost in the confusing Fusion 360 interface. Fusion is a powerful program but I will purchase VCarve and use it until I have more experience and courage under my belt…

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I find Fusion 360 to be very intuitive and able to do just about anything while V-carve is great for importing work done somewhere else and turning it into a carve. Personally, I like the flexibility in the CAM in Fusion over the simplicity of v-carve.
More than anything… What are you trying to create?


So i guess ultimately if I purchase V-carve pro I can upgrade to Aspire for the difference in price later and do more research into Apire vs Fusion 360. So I will purchase the V-carve and keep watching this thread and doing more searches with Google and watching YouTube reviews and how to videos on both till I figure out what will be best for my needs.

Wouldn’t it be better to try out Fusion 360 before spending $$$$. I am still building my XL, I use Fusion 360 to design for my 3D Printer, for designing I found it very intuitive and very powerful! I am having a harder time learning CAM but there really are a LOT of tutorials.

Here is a link to Autodesks F360 tutorials

I find Lars Christensen YouTube videos some of the best and there are some great ones!


I do know that V-carve simplifies many CNC operations such as sign makeing especially using V bits. And there are many things that CC can’t do.

I tried F360 and found it to be pretty confusing and not intuitive at all (honestly I didn’t mess with it for long). Personally I didn’t want to invest a ton of time though since I use a totally different package for my day job (Catia V5). So I bought VCarve Desktop and I’m really happy with it and was making stuff really quick. I found it to be really intuitive and plenty powerful. I’m a slightly different case though since I have access/training with Catia if I want to do full 3D work. I also own Meshcam for when I just want to load an STL and go. I think software choice also depends a lot on what you’re trying to do, money available, and how much time you have to spare. Each package has its strengths, if you wanna do signs and a bunch of vcarving I feel VCarve Desktop is a great piece of software. If you wanna do full 3D then maybe one of the other packages will suit you better. I personally use VCarve for about 95% of my projects, I don’t do nearly as much full 3D as I thought I would when I started.


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The commands and process is the same from VCP to Aspire for everything included in VCP. Vectric has very good tutorials and a great user forum.
You can watch some of the tutorials on YouTube, and they have an annual user group meeting in the fall (tuition required).

I would try to be more specific about what you are looking to do 3D before spending too much energy on a decision. There are now programs which will convert photos to STL models. That may be enough to get you by for your needs. You can also hire others to do modeling for you.

My son purchased one of the first SO3’s 3 years ago when they were introduced and his business product line has evolved significantly over those 3 years for a number of factors. Things that he thought would sell and use the CNC for didn’t have a market and the capabilities of the machine opened up other opportunities for him. He has been able to do everything required with V-Carve Desktop and V-Carve Pro. He now has 3 SO3’s at the age of 18.

In short, what you think you may need for your future needs today, you may not need it nor may it be supported in five years.


Seconded, from someone who has Aspire 9.

I love Aspire, and think it’s incredibly powerful and easy to use, but I use it mostly for sign making and relief carving. Its Vcarving ability is second to none, and the toolpaths are often far more efficient than anything I can create with other software (which is great when doing big numbers of parts) I’ve used the 3D creation tools in Aspire a little, but find they are more useful for creating artwork, i.e relief carvings and bowls etc, rather than mechanical-type parts, or parts that need to fit together. For that stuff Fusion360 is excellent.

As also mentioned above, go for Vcarve Pro and F360, then if you feel you need more you can look at Aspire.

I think a combo of the vectric software and Fusion360 will cover 99% of projects you want to do.


Well I just purchased V-carve pro. It will get me started into 3D. Where I go from here I know not.

I’m an older ( + 60) designer who works with CAD regularly. Vcarve is easy and precise and a huge time saver compared to Carb Create. I downloaded and did 2 projects in Fusion 360 and was frustrated thru the whole process. I was much more preoccupied with the learning of the software to ever see it as a liberating tool for creative work. It’s free , so why not download it and see for yourself. It’s parametric, meaning that it adjusts globally when you make small adjustments for material thicknesses so all your joints are automatically compensated, that is a really usefull feature,. It’s just not intuitive to my way of thinking. Ultimately you have to define what it is you want to produce. Then find the best software package. For things like cut and carved furniture components & joints, Fusion may be worth the learning effort.

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I’m pushing 60 myself. I’ve already down loaded Fusion 360 and watched some tutorials on it. It looks like a way larger learning curve then I want to tackle. V-Carve looks to be easier for me. Will start working with it this week and see where it takes me.

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I’ve been developing a CAM program for images called PixelCNC and am just about to release v1.30a today which includes 3D model importing as well. It’s still under active development but it features several different toolpaths/operations, some of which you can’t find anywhere else, and I’m always adding new ones.

I started developing it for my wife to design signs and engravings that I make on our CNC, which we then sell on our Etsy shop. We had a few things that I CAMed up and would just re-use the G-code but we would get more orders for custom signs and engravings than pre-made ones, so she’d have to design it up in Photoshop and then I’d have to sit for an hour tweaking it just right, generating a mesh out of it in Blender, and CAMing on that - but if I had to go back and fix a little problem with the image I’d have to go through the whole process again from scratch. PixelCNC has reduce that whole workflow down to a few minutes.

Take a look see!


This looks very interesting, props to you for putting so much work into this project. I’ll test the demo to make sure it’ll work on my Shapeoko 3 (running LinuxCNC) then purchase it if it goes well.

I’m assuming that you’re on this forum because you own a carbide3d machine, does this have a post processor to suit the stock GRBL board?

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