Carveco - up and running easily

After my quite public trial of Vectric V Carve Pro, I have decided to try Carveco’s offerings. The advantages are many.

  1. It is only the price of entry for the version you wish to tryout 1 month. There is no further commitment required.
  2. The software is fully operational and not hobbled by any restrictions.
  3. One can see how the software operates in a realistic day to day situation.
  4. The software includes a library of vectors and 3D files.

I opted for the basic version with a price of $15 per month. I thought it would be wise to see how the software performed under macOS and parallels v16.5. If I like the way the software works I will then move to a more advanced package and probably purchase it.

The person with whom I had an e-mail conversation about running the software in a virtual machine had explained that until recently Open GL was an issue. However he noted that with the advent of Parallels v16, many users had report better success with running Carveco on a Mac.

My mac is an old MacBook Pro (Mid 2014) running macOS Catalina 10.15.7. It utilises a 2.5 GHz Quad core i7 CPU and a 2GB NVIDIA graphics card. It runs in 16GB RAM and storage is a 512GB internal SSD with a 2TB external drive.

How does it run? Really well without any noticeable lag for any of the activities undertaken thus far. More anon once I start to generate toolpaths and carve. I specifically asked about the means by which Carveco handles tool changes. I was told that it will handle tool changes as long as the Carbide 3D machine uses a BitSetter. That is great news and may save @neilferreri from poking around under the hood to try and make things work sensibly.

I have no idea if this software is good, bad or otherwise and I am not being employed by Carveco to push the software for any sort of inducement. One fact I did not mention is that the software was written in the UK. The Carveco business is relatively young (2018) and took over some of the functions of DelCAM and ArtCAM. It ought to be stable and usable.

Check back from time to time and you will be able to see my progress. Note that I currently only have the most basic version (Maker) running in my Windows 10 (home) OS inside the VM Parallels.

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Good luck with the test and I’m looking forward to your commentary.

One thing: If it’s British, don’t they have UK pricing, rather than being a victim (or not) of financial exchange rates?

I am looking forward to getting to grips with the software to see what I can produce… unaided by the far more experienced workers on this site. :grin:

I don’t know the answer to that question Peter, but I have not looked into the make up of the company. The sales tax was $3 on top of $15 so the same as our VAT rate of 20%. :grin: Possibly the parent company is in the USA. I am sure all will be revealed after I have completed my experiments and my researches.

This was the thing that made me decide that it wasn’t for me. I am in the UK, Carveco is a UK company. The only way to pay is in US dollars. Madness in my opinion, why should I have to pay bank fees for paying a UK company in dollars!
Vectric do not have this ridiculous payment system.

Hello Graham, I believe you can pay in other currencies (£ Sterling in this case) but that is something you set up directly with the sales people. I was talking with a senior person at Carveco today and it looks entirely possible to pay in other currencies. It would be surprising if a company with global sales did not offer such a thing. The localisation file for languages suggests that US dollars is not the only currency accepted.

Edit: Just to point out that I pay via PayPal and I do not think the penalties for currency conversion apply. I may be wrong but I have bought some fairly expensive stuff from Switzerland in CHF and did not have to pay a penalty.

Evening Jeff, This was one of the questions I specifically asked Carveco in February this year, the other was about using Bitsetter. The reply I received:

Hi Graham,
Thanks for reaching out to us.

Our subscriptions are all based on USD so we do not offer the option to purchase via pounds sterling. Sorry!

The additions to the Shapeoko XXL – yes, we do support the bitsetter and bit zero options. We may need to do minor adjustments to the postprocessor based on a few parameters which may be unique to your machine, but we’ve done it before so I do not expect there to be any problems.

Regards,

I was almost convinced to go this route instead of Vectric before I found out about what would have been an on-going additional cost.

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Good evening to you, Graham. I have an e-mail message that specifically tells me that I can purchase a perpetual licence for Maker Plus in GBP; on foot of contacting the sales department directly. That was from Mr Dillon Moulder, the Director of Customer Success. I have not taken that as proof that the subscriptions are only available in USD nor have I assumed that it is the permission to only pay in GBP. Companies, Policies are not my area of responsibility.

You pay your money and make your choices. Putting actual costs to one side… if I wanted a certain thing and I could only get it from the USA, then I buy it. I recently purchased a diamond drag engraver bit which was only available from the USA. The price of entry was dollars but I now have the bit in my possession. :smile:

One of my questions was about how the Carveco software handled tool changes and BitSetter was mentioned by Mr Moulder. Because there is very definitely a specific Carbide 3D post-processor advertised on Carveco’s web pages, I would expect that some work has been done in this area. I confess to not knowing about the extent of adjustments made for tool changes. I will find out during my trial of the software because I will want to undertake two sided machining and the usual multi-tool jobs. If I need to ask support about this matter, I will do so.

Interestingly, Vectric will offer you their version of post-processor adjustments (written by a forum member @neilferreri) so that tool changes can be handled with Vectric’s offerings. While I don’t want to gainsay the costs (they obviously are a consideration) I don’t see myself as needing the power of Carvceo or Aspire.

My Vectric requirements would probably stop at V Carve desktop and my Maker requirements would probably stop at Maker Plus. There is a cost differential between the packages and I have insufficient experience to know what I may need before I need it. To an extent, without wanting to appear rude or glib, there is some truth to the proverbial saw, “if you have to ask the price, you cannot afford it”.

What I really like about Carveco is that it feels like a modern software and I understood its design language instantly. I explained to @AndyC elsewhere in the forum, that the Vectric software seems to be bound to the concept of opening a different form for every single process (and explicitly closing that form before moving on). Mac’s do not work like that by and large and Carveco’s software felt easier to navigate to me.

Do remember that I am brand new to the Windows OS and the less I have to do with that particular OS, the more time I have to do what I want. Maker feels to me like I can ignore the Windows OS and that makes me feel comfortable. There may be an additional cost but truthfully, I wont stint on my own retirement hobby and as a long time Mac owner, I am used to paying the much vaunted ‘Apple Tax’. :grin:

Ultimately, it will not matter in the final analysis if what you want can be achieved with the software you use. Whatever works is what will find a place in your armoury of tools to achieve what sort of CNC work that you want to. I drive a Jaguar because I like what it offers. In reality, it may only be a Ford under the skin but it definitely feels different to a Ford.

Hi everyone,

Chris here from Carveco.

I just wanted to jump in and address some of the points raised by @Quantock - points that I feel are absolutely valid. We are a UK-based company and completely understand the frustration of not being able to purchase a subscription in GBP (£).

Just to give a slight potted history – our team is comprised solely of people who spent the vast majority of their working lives on ArtCAM. When the decision was made by Autodesk to end the product – and we found ourselves in the fortunate position of being able to continue it (albeit under a different name) – we also found ourselves having to make decisions about new store platforms that allowed us to get up and running quickly, but over time, have proved to be pretty inflexible for selling software in multiple currencies.

As the vast majority of our users are in the US, we took the decision to support USD as our main subscription currency for the short-term, with a view to expanding this in the longer term. We had to sort out our US customers as a priority and I’d draw comparisons with Carbide in not offering a GBP option. This isn’t meant as a slight against Carbide, as they understandably have to cater to where the majority of their customers are based, as do we.

But, having solely USD-based subscriptions is something that we 100% agree isn’t great for anyone outside of the US. It’s definitely not what we intended from the outset, and we’re currently looking at ways to increase the number of local currencies we can support.

As @jepho mentioned, we added PayPal as a payment option to help people outside of the US, as I believe anyone using PayPal will not get charged a foreign currency fee – we bear that cost as a business. And we do sell our perpetual software in GBP online. But again, we do recognise this is only a band-aid and are working on trying to improve this part of our subscriptions.

Apologies if anyone feels I’m hijacking this thread (…being British, I feel compelled to apologise as much as possible) but I thought it would be good to add to the conversation from Carveco’s side.

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CarveCo’s HQ is too far away. 33.1 miles! Where as Vectric’s HQ is only 32.1 miles away… No comparison.

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Hello Chris. I am delighted to see you here. Welcome! I think it means that the thread deals with facts rather than assumptions and guesses. I am currently testing the Maker software and will provide some short (hopefully non-didactic) video footage as screencasts. There is the considerable price differential between Carveco’s top product and Vectric’s Aspire, as was pointed out by @AndyC who mentioned the $6,000 difference for a perpetual licence here:

I wish to demonstrate the usage of Maker at its lowest level, since I have only owned a CNC machine since October 2020. I think it may help other people who are new to CNC and the software that must be used to drive it. For me; thus far, my cursory look at how Maker is used has shown me that the GUI is far easier to negotiate than Vectric’s GUI and behaves as I would have expected.

It is my contention that it will make more sense to people who have an understanding of how design software (generally speaking any software across all disciplines from graphic design and image manipulation to CAD/CAM) ought to behave.

I have also discovered a few software oddities but I will save those for my screencast video presentations. These should start appearing within a week once I have my YouTube platform set up.

:rofl: Nice catch, Gerry. I don’t want to take just your word for it. What about the road numbers and roadworks? Don’t leave us all in suspense… we need travelling times by donkey, helicopter, submarine and shank’s pony as well as the relevant numbers plus photographs of the respective routes… now! :grin:

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Many thanks Jeff, I appreciate the warm welcome.

Truth be told - I’m always a little apprehensive about joining new communities… as I probably feel that anything I contribute will be half-viewed as a shameless act of Carveco self-promotion. And quite rightly so. But I’ll try my best not to be “that guy”! As really, I quite enjoy telling anyone that’ll listen about us - so I’ll just try my best to be helpful.

To speak to the point raised by @AndyC… (Apologies in advance – this is going to be a long one)

I think there’s naturally going to be a comparison between Carveco (our flagship product) and Aspire, primarily due to the similarities in the makeup of our companies and product line-ups. Vectric have three core products, we have three core products and, at first-glance, we do share many similar features across the different tiers of our respective programs.

But, as Andy rightly notes, there is a pretty significant jump from Maker Plus/Aspire to Carveco. I’ll try my best to explain why that is and also why Carveco doesn’t really go head-to-head with Aspire that often. It’s mainly because we really operate in totally different spaces.

Most Carveco customers at the higher end are typically involved in industrial, large-scale applications. These are the kind of organisations that run massive machining centres across multiple countries around the world. On the flip side, we also have some customers who are specialists in their chosen field, producing high-value, heavily custom one-off products. The common thread is that they make all sorts of interesting stuff; from coins and medals, to chocolate moulds, embossing dies, decorative bits on sneakers or the wavy texture you might find on the back panel of a TV etc. There’s a mind-boggling array of industries and applications in which Carveco is at the centre. Personally - movie props are my favourite of the bunch.

Really the main strength of Carveco (…I’ll start referring to it as ‘Pro’ from this point on… mainly for my own sanity) from a product design point-of-view, is ultimately in its 3D design tools. You can quickly create hi-resolution, organic geometry ‘live’ (real time feedback in a single 3D view). You can create either a complete design (Bas relief or full 3D) or just decorative elements (like a texture or flourish feature) that you might want to export for use in a separate industrial design program, combining it with some other model or part. We also have some pretty specialist design features like Latent Imaging, (which I’ll try to post a Gif of below and most likely fail….) which allows you to make designs that change when viewed from different angles.

On the manufacturing side - it really lets you machine your designs however you want, with strategies and machining algorithms designed to be fast and robust. When you’re trying to make one million units of a particular item, it’s easy to see how shaving off even a second or two from a toolpath, really pays off over time.

Some of the coolest work I’ve seen recently involves lazers, where some of these machines go for eye-watering sums of money because they’re dealing in microns. That’s also where Carveco’s ability to work at these Ultra high resolutions comes into play and where elements such as tolerances, draft angles, corner sharpening, tool wear etc. are crucially important. We’ve also got an analysis tool that’ll show you potential tear-spots for foiling dies.

image

Carveco Pro is an expensive product - absolutely. But, it’s that way because it’s specialist. With some highly technical tools and features that 99% of people wouldn’t have any cause to use – but it’s those features that are really the differentiator. And when you look at the cost of the software in relation to your $50m global machining operation… it’s pretty cost-effective software for those type of customers.

Sorry if the above is a bit verbose, but it really all boils down to speed, efficiency and maintaining quality at scale. And, to sum-up with a terrible car analogy: If Carveco Maker is your Chevy Impala, and Carveco Maker Plus is your Tesla Model S… then Carveco (Pro) is your Train. Powerful; but a bit overkill for most who just want to drive to the shops.

Look forward to seeing them, and it’s always good to see where we can improve on the oddities front. If there’s any assistance I can give, please let me know.

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Thanks for the explanation Chris. I am in no doubt about the strengths of even the lowliest software in the group. The production stuff has to be right. I can see that the software feels right to me. Not having to open and close 10 different forms to achieve simple things was the icing on the cake for me. I don’t know the Windows OS at all but I have some facility with graphic design and imaging software. This has meant that (for me) Maker feels like a normal piece of software and the design language of the software is something I feel that I understand intuitively.

I have been very keen to get a really easy to follow method of creating relief landscapes from Mars. This is so that I can carve them into the faces of the cubes that I will make using @45rpm’s (JohnClark) methods. I have made one of his cubes successfully and could not see how to generate the requisite relief files easily. I was digging around in Maker and I was shocked by just how easily I created relief files. So somewhat ahead of schedule until I can do the screencasts next week, here is a relief file I created from a simple jpeg image. I am super impressed.

The process was a bit slow… at about three seconds. Can you speed up the process? I may have to slow the screencast down otherwise people may miss how it was done. :grin:

jpeg image.

Relief file.

jpeg file was 300 dpi but Carbide Motion expects vector files at 96 dpi so I set it for that. Z height was set to 8mm and relief smoothing set to 42%. File is 400 x 400mm for my SO3.

I am really looking forward to understanding how to use the software and to start carving some nice things. Incidentally, I mentioned to Dillon that I don’t use Linked-in, Facebook or Twitter because of all my accounts being severely hacked. This means there is no means of me following the community for support. Perhaps you might suggest to him this type of forum management and then I can join in. :smiley:

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I forgot to say just how cool that effect does look. My guess is that it is not available until you reach the Carveco pro version, which would be a great pity but I really love the effect.

I feel that’s not actually too bad, considering you’re running in a virtual environment. I’ve done a quick (and nasty) version to show the results running Maker natively in Windows. Hopefully it might be useful for a rough speed comparison with what you’re getting. And for reference, I’m running a Ryzen 5 3600, 16GB RAM and a GTX 1660ti.

In terms of speedup… unfortunately i’m a little out of my depth when it comes to Mac VM’s. You might be best trying to find another Carveco user running in a VM, and seeing what settings they’ve found best. Sorry I can’t be more useful on that topic, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything useful.

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100% agree. Similar to my first post regarding Subscriptions, we’re still trying to improve loads of different parts of the business as we’re growing. And this platform seems great. It’s definitely on the list of things we want to introduce! :sunglasses:

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It was my pathetic attempt at humour. :grin:

That 3 seconds was occupied by opening the VM, creating the model, importing the .jpg image, Z height and smoothing adjustment and final output. So it seemed fast to my mind. :grin:

I look forward to that because this type of forum set up seems very robust as well as being user-friendly. I have not had any account troubles in the places which use this forum layout and where I hold accounts.

:joy: I did wonder. Was thinking “This guy’s really into his time management…

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Don’t let him fool you, @Chris-M - he is! :rofl: :rofl:

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