Complete noob! How to get started?

Hi :slight_smile:

For years, I’ve been watching pros run milling jobs on a HAAS, in awe. With a little bonus I got, I decided to purchase a Nomad to finally start learning CNC.

I’m a lifelong SolidWorks user.

Any recommendations on a good for-dummies guide to learn how to CNC a SolidWorks model on a Nomad?

Any and all advice would be much appreciated!

Cheers from Philly


Not sure about solidworks but Titans of CNC has their academy online with all their free videos of how to CNC stuff, from workholding on up.


From SolidWorks you can export an STL and then machine it in a fashion similar to:

Your SolidWorks license may or may not include SolidCAM which would allow you to skip the STL — it’s supposed to be the same CAM tool as is bundled w/ some other commercial products, so other tutorials may apply.

1 Like

@LiamN, thank you! I’ve been watching their videos but they seem to be 100% Fusion 360

@WillAdams, that’s a great tutorial.

I do have SolidWorks CAM. Just not really sure how to “directly” generate G-code. I’m really looking, if there is one out there, for a SolidWorks / HSMxpress tutorial that is specific to Nomad.

Everyone seems to be using Fusion 360 but I don’t want to get a new and expensive license for something that I already have/know/love…

1 Like

HSMxpress has some documentation online.

Here’s a commercial tutorial:

usually one can score a 30-day trial of their tutorials pretty easily.

1 Like


Thank you! That’s a great course and is also, thankfully, available on LinkedIn Learning (where I do have access). I’m watching it now.

I guess I’m confused about taking the G-code that HSMX generates and loading it into Nomad…

My Nomad hadn’t shipped yet so I guess I am preemptively panicking here :wink:

For sending G-Code to the machine please see the tutorial:

that’s a bit out-dated (relies on Carbide Motion 3) and we no longer include the di-bond for cutting that (it’s messy) — perhaps one of the other tutorials?

Note that the wrench tutorial will be replaced by a tool-holder tutorial which is still in development.

It’s pretty straight-forward:

  • make design
  • create toolpaths
  • generate G-Code
  • connect to machine
  • send settings (if necessary — I don’t believe this has to be done on a Nomad)
  • initialize machine
  • secure your stock
  • install the first endmill
  • set zero relative to the stock by jogging the machine to where you want to origin to be
  • load and send file

If you get stuck, just post here or at and we’ll do our best to help

1 Like

So simple! Like I said, I’m so new at CNCing… I’ll learn fast!

@WillAdams, thanks so much!

Just to set expectations, I don’t think there’s a straightforward “SolidWorks for Nomad Dummies” that you could use. I think the overlap between SolidWorks users and Nomad users is quite small, as Nomad is a hobby machine and Fusion 360 heavily dominates among hobbyists due to the free option.

The best help I can give you is the post-processor for SolidWorks CAM, which will be 100% necessary for exporting G-Code.

Aside from that, you’ll have to set up the machine in SolidWorks (which should mostly be a matter of looking up specs) and find some comfortable feeds and speeds. If you’re working with metals, the Nomad (at least the 883 Pro, it wasn’t clear which Nomad you have) can be quite picky about those because of its puny frame and spindle (relative to the machines your pros are working on), so I’d recommend looking at Winston’s fantastic MaterialMondays videos to get an idea of what feeds and speeds to use.

All that said, you can also just use another program for CAM, like MeshCAM or even Fusion 360. You’ll have more resources available that way.

also once you have STL, you can use

in order to generate gcode for your shapeoko…

Or you can create a depth map using and then use Carbide Create Pro to put it in a more complex design

Note that @gregfridman has a Nomad which includes a license for MeshCAM tied to the machine — it will make G-Code for the Nomad from an STL.

1 Like

ah yeah meshcam is much more advanced :wink:

What version of Solidworks are you running? I have 2018 and found the CAM side a little clunky, Meshcam is likely a good option starting out but I’m not sure what filetypes it can import. I’ll have a bit of a play and see if I can help out at all (I have a shapeoko but it will be similar workflow).

Maybe best is to start with some pocket cuts and get the process sorted, then progress into complex models.

1 Like

I’ve just started playing with it but it’s actually really cool. In particular, it can auto-detect features for you and set up the toolpaths semi-automatically. Plus, tolerance-based machining looks interesting.

1 Like

@WillAdams, I see everything clearer now. Looks like my path is like so:

  • learn CNC feeds-and-speeds with the built-in suggestions of the Nomad + MeshCAM
  • when comfortable, start playing with feeds-and-speeds of my own “design”
  • let the Nature take its course as I graduate to more powerful software and, perhaps, CNC machines.

I happen to be a member of here in Philly. They have a HAAS, running off SolidWorks + HSM Works. My dream is to make a cut on that machine and it looks like the path to that is clear.

Thank you very much for your guidance and wisdom

1 Like

@stutaylo, since I have an active license and I am who I am, I’ve been running 2021 since the beta :slight_smile:

Sucks that 2021 is not yet compatible with the latest release of HSMXpress but no matter! I’ll start with MeshCAM, first.

I just ordered the machine last week and with 30-day lead time it’ll be a while until I start making chips. Can’t freaking wait!!

@Moded1952, SolidWorks is yet to fail me… From the video tutorials I’ve reviewed it looks to be pretty crafty. Just need to get HSMXpress to work and, well, receive my CNC (it’s on backorder right now). Soon! :slight_smile:

1 Like

The great thing here is the default mode for Nomad use in MeshCAM is a completely automated calculation of this based on the material and tooling selected.

You should be able to use that as a starting point and then you can learn chiploads and look into spreadsheets and calculators. G-Wizard is mentioned favorably in:

and see Bob Warfield’s guest blog posts:


1 Like

FWIW, though it might be great for larger machines, I haven’t had any luck with the calculators on the Nomad, at least milling metals. The machine has great difficulty performing anywhere near its rated specs, which seems to confuse the calculators.

I’ve heard of some people around the forums using HSMAdvisor though, maybe they have better luck than me.

1 Like