Finally! I have gotten around to using Carveco Maker

This is the first time I have used Carveco Maker to plan and cut anything on my standard sized Shapeoko SO3. I have spent some time looking at the software and learning how it has to be used. My learning curve was made steeper by the software only operating in a Windows desktop environment. I have use a Macintosh (Apple) computer for the last 25 years and so I knew nothing about Windows or how it was used.

I have now worked out the sequence of events needed to run Carveco Maker, which is the cheapest option and costs $15 per month plus taxes bringing my cost to $18 per month. I guess time will tell if the software is worth the cost but it feels very well put together and is highly capable. I believe that this is because the commercial/professional version is used to run multiple machines in CNC farms. The developers have just removed the professional features from this domestic model for hobbyists.

Testing the software has to demonstrate accuracy of cut dimensions to a high degree; if it is to serve any CNC modelling the user may wish to carve. My first simple test was to carve a 100 mm x 100mm profile that was 2mm deep with sharp corners. The software has an option to follow the profile of the cutter and round the corners or to follow the profile toolpath created but make sharp corners.

My toolpath specified sharp corners and I used a 2 flute carbide straight cutter of 6.35mm (1/4") in diameter. The stock material was MDF which is not ideal but it cuts easily and if I could cut it accurately, it would transfer to other stock materials easily. Within the tool selection, I specified a
step-down value of 0.2mm and 15,000 RPM. The feed speed was 1500mm per minute and the plunge speed was 750mm per minute.

The toolpath could accept several useful parameter adjustments. I chose climb milling. I did not specify lead-in or ramping nor did I utilise raster clearance. Final Pass clearance and final pass thickness was set to 0.01mm and the software took care of the finishing pass. The final measurements were 100mm on my Starrett 150mm rule and 100.04mm on my Mitutoyo digital caliper. On first showing, this software will easily repay any investment in time taken to learn it it. I output the toolpaths to the Shapeoko mm post processor provided by Carveco without issue and cut the profile using Carbide Motion.

The results speak for themselves.

pix:
Measured values on rule and caliper

Video of partial cut and finishing cut.

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My understanding is that the output of any software to a Shapeoko is grbl, and so the accuracy of the result is not dependent on the software, but on how well your machine is setup. So, congrats on an accurate setup, but any software on your machine should produce the same accuracy. That said, Carveco Maker has some nice features.

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Thanks for the correction, Ben. I am happy to see that the machine is set up reasonably well. My initial efforts with my SO3 were poor because I did not understand the relationship between my attempted carves and my machine setup.

I really like the simplicity of access to features not seen in CC. Lead in, climb milling and ramping look like ways to be much more sympathetic to the machinery and the cutter in use. I am much more familiar with the design language of Carveco Maker than CC so it sits quite comfortably with me.

After cutting a few more tests, and some projects that I have taken on, I will try my hand at 3D carving. I have taken far too long to familiarise myself with Carveco Maker but now I have started, I hope to move towards familiarity and ease of use within 6 months.