CAD CAM workflow confusion - help

First off, I’m a newbie. I have no doubt this has been answered many times over so don’t hesitate to redirect me if there is a better place to answer.

I have read multiple threads about CAD/CAM software options and alternatives.

I agree with the sentiments about Carbide controller not being open but that seems to contradict the website and the Make Magazine article referenced [here] ( Perhaps the thread I referenced is older and no longer applies but I’m confused.

Is it open source or not?
From the Make Magazine:
> Firmware: Grbl board, Grbl is open, customized version for them
> Open Software? No, desktop software developed in-house. Grbl itself is open and proceeds fund Grbl development.
> Open Hardware? Yes

Does this mean the controller is only able to be operated by the in-house Motion or MeshCAM software?

Based on the threads I’ve read, I’m leaning to VCarve for design and tool paths and then what? These threads don’t really discuss executing the g-code. Am I correct in assuming everyone must use Motion or MeshCAM?

If proprietary then Mach3/4 is out (unless changing controller), correct?

Background -Two years ago I considered buying a Titan kit from Joe’s CNC. At the time I looked extensively at Mach 3 and just couldn’t pull the trigger on a $5k setup. I’m extremely proficient with Sketchup and 3D modeling. I’m moderately proficient with Fusion but find it less intuitive. I have considered using Sketchup for design but am less interested in adding a 3rd/4th step.

Any help, advice, additional threads, or articles would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Dan

No, Carbide Motion is limited to only working with the Carbide Motion or Stepoko (with code) controller

One may use any software which supports Grbl to support the machine — list of free / opensource options at:

If you use Vcarve for design and CAM you should use a suitable post-processor (they’ve included one since v8.5 — further discussion at: ) and you may use any communication / control program which you wish — their nascent Vtransfer is one option.

If Mach3/4 has a mode which allows one to control a machine using G-Code over a serial USB connection then it should work. Otherwise, you’d need to replace the control board.

If you wish to use SketchUp there’s a list of CAM options for it at:

We have notes on using Autodesk Fusion 360 at: and you’ll want to use the new beta and post-processor


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