First timer seeking advice

I’m pulling the trigger and getting an XXL to cut down on the amount of time i spend on the band saw. I’m wondering if i can v carve with the stock software. I have been dabbling in carbide3D to get as acclimated as possible and i see the v carve option but I read it will not in fact v carve. Part 2 is i plan on using meshcam and carbide3D, will i be limited at all in my ability to carve in full 3D? My understanding is 2.5D is the limit with the supplied software but with meshcam or solidworks or fusion360 full 3D is possible. I thought deciding on which machine would be the hard part but choosing software seems to be much more of a challenge.

Excited to be a part of this community and appreciate any help you can give.

Hi welcome to the CLUB!!

I am not an expert at all but here is my opinion experience.

  1. I have done Vcarving on the carbide create it works ok but I made the decision to go to Fusion 360 as this would give me more abilities / functionality to do lots of cool things! however the v carving on fusion 360 is a bit harder but once I got to grips with it I would say that it is better that carbide motion. However there is a dedicated software for v carving (think it is called V-carve) however it is in my opinion very expensive but allot of people say it is the defacto gold standard for Vcarving

  2. Meshcam never used it so cant comment sorry.

3)Fusion 360 is a massive learning curve and I would say that having used it for 3/4 months I am now able to create basic shapes designs with ease and for more complex things like simulating the hinges on boxes etc I can do but take time, I found the following invaluable in my learning

Learn fusion 360 in 30 days youtube series (excellent pace and learning)

NYCNC - has loads of good videos about f360

My personal opinion is commit to learning fusuin360 it is free powerful and another useful skill to have in your CNC toolkit ( for instance I set my self 20 min challenges) I look around the workshop find something I can enhance by cncing then design export to CAM and cut :slight_smile: fun and I have learnt loads doing this too

Hope this helps
Good Luck and let me know if I can help at all



Thanks, Jon. I appreciate the insight. I was under the impression fusion 360 was only free for one year. Does fusion 360 support full 3-D carving also?

Yes, Carbide Create supports V carves:

MeshCAM works perfectly with the machine and will allow you to do 3D work w/in the limits of a 3-axis machine — use a suitable technique for two-sided machining to extend that:

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Fusion 360 is free for startups earning under US$100k/year, hobbyists and students/educators.
Its a 3 year license, but when that time comes, if you still qualify then you can just renew the free license.

Check out Compare Fusion 360 vs Fusion 360 for Personal Use | Autodesk

I have been using the shapeoko 3 for a few years now (had the smaller original size, now XXL) and find that I use different software depending on the job. This is my take on it:

Carbide Create - is awesome for learning the machine, is very powerful for “2.5d” work (i.e no 3d contours) and the guys are constantly updating the software so it just gets better and better. definitely the best place to start as you’re getting used to the machine.

Fusion 360 - is awesome for 3d machining, dual sided parts, making parts that need to fit together. The learning curve is a lot steeper, as Fusion is fully featured CAD software, with a CAM feature built in. I found as I was learning the CAM side, that it was a lot harder to get what I was expecting out of the machine. However now I use it a lot and though there is a lot to learn I get good results with it. I haven’t had a lot of luck V-carving with Fusion 360, I will often cut the part with Fusion then do the V-carve in the vectric software

Vectric V-carve/Aspire - there are several versions of this software, V-carve which is the base level, great for v-carving - It has a built in trace tool, so you can download a picture from google, import it, trace it, then V-carve it. It’s great at doing relief carvings that you buy or download, and VERY good at creating efficient code without much hassle - I have found that if you are cutting out 25 small objects at once, it can be 3-4x faster than the other software, often with a better result. Its very simple and quick to do small jobs like a basic box or cutouts, and supports tabs which is a helpful addition. I personally use Aspire, which is at the top of the Vectric tree, it’s great for the above, plus has a few more features around 3d modelling and nesting multiple parts into one cut. The newer version also supports 2 sided machining. Aspire costs more than the machine does… big downside.

I have no experience with meshcam, but I heard great reports about it, I believe it comes with the Nomad CNC.


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