CAD / CAM Software Recommendation

Good morning everyone,

I would appreciate a lot your advise with the following situation.

I make guitars. I made the drawing of my designs by hand and a friend of mine transfered some of them into Rhino and others into Catia. Then, these drawings were transfered by another friend into Fusion 360.

I am new into CNC and I don’t know how to design in Fusion 360 or related program; but I want to learn.

Can you please let me know if I need to buy a program that can perform the CAD and CAM together or only CAM, as I already have the 3D designs?

As for programs, I found:
CAD and CAM: Carbide Create Pro and Fusion 360

Can you please let me know which program would be the best to buy?

Thank you in advance and best regards,

Depending on your needs, Carbide Create is free and may do everything you need. If it doesn’t, you could look at Carbide Create Pro and others. I personally use Fusion 360 and love it. It is rather expensive and has a pretty steep learning curve. If you have no experience, I would start with Carbide Create.


Which software you use depends on what sort of work you wish to do and how you wish to approach it.

Doesn’t get simpler than exporting an STL from MeshCAM to do 3D toolpaths for though, and since it’s developed by a partner, support for it is good.

If you want to do 3D mechanical CAD, consider: Alibre Workshop CAD/CAM - Carbide 3D (bundled w/ a Nomad 3)

Carbide Create Pro is suited to more decorative work.

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Hello NWallace, thank you. I make guitars which have curved tops (3D).
Which one would you advise?

Well, I have the 3D designs (.STEP). Which program would you recommend?

I am not very familiar with either of these but I would probably take a closer look at MeshCAM or Carbide Create Pro.

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For 3D, probably MeshCAM.

The community has some notes on resources for guitars at:

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So far, no one has mentioned VCarve.

First, not free. They have a fairly wide range of products, and a pricing model that allows you buy in at the low end and step up to more sophisticated products as your skills increase. They’ll charge you for full point upgrades, so 10 to 10.5 was free, but they just came out with 11, which I’ll have to pay for if I want it.

VCarve is pretty much dedicated to the home CNC market, so you’ll find it easier to use than Fusion, which is kind of all things to all people.

If it’s just a hobby, Fusion360 personal license is free. If you already have .step files, you don’t really have to do much designing to get started. And if your friends have already recreated them in fusion, they can give you an .f3d, allowing you to easily manipulate various aspects of the design without much knowledge at all. You don’t have to learn every dark corner of F360, just the tools you need for your tasks, it’s pretty intuitive.

For the money, paid or free license, it’s an exceptional CAM package.


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