iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.....Workflow in general

Is it possible to draw or trace in a program on my iPad Pro with a Apple Pencil and then convert to SVG, load into Carbide Create and easily output to Carbide Motion?

I have a Shapeoko 3 XXL, and just don’t know what workflow to use for design (CAD?).

I have Illustrator, Fusion 360- actually, any and all Autodesk and Adobe products if another makes more sense. I am also trialing VCarve, PhotoVCarve, and Aspire. I’d rather not spend money now on software, but will if it’s the easiest way. Otherwise I just won’t use this machine as I don’t have time to tinker for the next year before I find the best workflow.

I was naïve before buying this that it would be easy to use. Maybe it is and I am overcomplicating things. I am new to CAD and CAM, so maybe it is what it is.

PS- I have searched, read, watched YouTube, and have ADD. So some very pointed direction is much appreciated.

CNC CAD and CAM are simple — it’s drawing which is hard.

The usual programs I’d suggest are:

  • Serif’s Affinity Designer
  • Cenon
  • Inkscape
  • Macromedia Flash (yes, I know Adobe sells it, but I can’t accept that)

all of which are Mac OS X desktop apps (and available for Windows and/or Linux).

You’ll want an SVG drawing program — I’m sure that there are some for the iPad — then you need to draw/create an SVG which:

  • is a proper outline representation of the paths which you want the machine to consider for cutting
  • has correct winding (outermost paths are counter-clockwise, next is clockwise and alternating
  • is appropriate to the style of cutting which you wish to do — if you want to do through cuts w/ a square or ball-nosed endmill, then you’ll need for any corners or angles to be suitable rounded

I’d really suggest starting w/ Carbide Create — it will help you to understand some of the concepts of vector drawing — once you have those down, you can find a suitable app for the iPad, use that to create the SVG, then import the SVG into Carbide Create and do CAM there.

These links may help:

There are some iPad-specific apps on the App store which may be of use — Shapeoko CNC Router, Rigid, Accurate, Reliable, and Affordable — or perhaps not — if you find them to be useful, or find others, please let us know (I’m a big believer in pen computing, and have been tempted by the idea of an iPad, but I find it hard to limit myself to Apple’s “walled garden”)

Additionally you may want to look into: http://www.indeeo.com/idraw/ and https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/freeform-vector-drawing-app/id364875544?mt=8

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Turns out there is an opensource SVG drawing program for the iPad, appropriately named InkPad:

Found a few more on the CAD page and moved them to Commercial Software:

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Please consider that there are step-by-step tutorials for a reason. CNC encompasses a wide array of concepts and skills, and one must build on these so as to have a secure foundation.

Ideally we’d just issue a copy of:

to everyone w/ their machine (or better still, a customized version which used Carbide Create and Carbide Motion)

It would help a great deal if everyone would learn the industry-standard terminology — there is a glossary at: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Glossary

and reach an understanding of the basics of the tutorials:

It would help a great deal also if everyone would use the checklist: http://docs.carbide3d.com/article/41-machine-operating-checklist

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have complained of the wiki and it being scattered, or a “hot mess”, and then months later come back and said that it had hugely improved since they first used it, when only minor edits had been made to it in the intervening timeframe — it’s hard to learn to understand a field tabula rasa and it’s easiest if one accepts that one has to learn things incrementally, and in order, so as to understand the underlying concepts and to know the accepted terminology, and documentation makes a lot more sense once one understands what is being documented.

That said, I’d be glad of any assistance or suggestions for the wiki, including but not limited to:

  • topics / questions which are not addressed
  • suggestions on improving or simplifying the hierarchy / structure
  • suggestions on how difficult to understand sections can be simplified, improved upon, or explained more clearly

Hey, I own that book! I should get past the first few pages…darn ADD!

Thank you much for your candor, and all the assistance you provided here within thread, and all over the Internet where I see your signature.

I had not heard of CNC until a couple months ago. Am I late to the game, or is it becoming more common place?

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It’s been around for a little while:

I think what you’re seeing more of now is costs of equipment coming down which allows the technology to start showing up in peoples homes and small garage shops/maker spaces. I worked in a shop that had a 3D printer back about 11-12 years ago, big behemoth machine that took forever and cost lots of money to run. Today I own 2 3D printers at home, neither of which was much over $1500 or so and they are quicker and more accurate than the machine I used just a few years ago. CNC routers have gone a similar route. I have a good friend who spent around $15000 on a CNC router for his shop 10 years ago and my SO3 XXL will cut circles around it for about $2000. Fun times we are in where you can think of something and go make it pretty quickly in your garage, heck I’ve drawn and 3D printed parts that I could have just as easily bought off Amazon, but I had it in an hour and it cost me about $0.30 to produce!


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What do you have in mind for your first project?
Post a picture and we can get you going.
In the meantime;
Here are 2 Project links that use Carbide Create and the Shapeoko:

If you have Illustrator, and know how to use it, then just use it — just view things in outline mode and check / adjust as necessary before saving as an SVG. Load the SVG into Carbide Create and done.

Once you come up against limitations in Illustrator / Carbide Create you can try something else based on what the limitations you’re encountering are.

I believe there’s an Adobe product for the iPad which is based on Illustrator and which you get a license for for having the most recent Creative Cloud version of Illustrator — let us know.

You may want to check out

It’s a simplified parametric modeler built around IPad pencil. I haven’t used it but reviews seem to be good. You’ll need a paid account for export but last time I checked it was cheap. A buddy uses it and imports into fusion 360 for cam.

Forgot to mention they have free version for trying it out.


@wlfairchild Shapr3D is an elegant and well designed app. However, it does require both an iPad Pro AND an Apple Pencil. Currently, no other stylus is supported and the Pencil only works with iPad Pro models. Sketching with Shapr3D and the Pencil in my opinion is very intuitive-much better than in other apps I have tried. Most common design tasks such as Boolean operations, chamfering, extruding, revolve etc., as well navigating in 3D space is easy. There is usually no need to press buttons or fiddle with dialog boxes. The learning curve is pretty fast. I was up and running with it almost immediately.The only thing holding me back from using it exclusively, is that it doesn’t provide for any CAM. The developer does update it often, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they add this capability in the near future.

Another very powerful app is Onshape. It’s probably by most people’s standard a much better overall program, but I still prefer Shapr for the way I can navigate the touchscreen with the Pencil. I believe there is a CAM plugin available for it, but I might be wrong. I am still testing both. My favorite all-around design tool for iPad is Concepts. It is capable of exporting .SVG files which can be imported into at least Meshcam and Fusion360. I haven’t tried it with Carbide Create.

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Won’t Shapr3D export to an STL? If so, use MeshCAM (you’ll need to buy a license if you don’t have a Nomad).

Hi @WillAdams Yes it does and I have a Nomad with Meshcam. I was thinking about starting another thread to cover this, but what I and a lot of people are probably hoping for is to be able to design and create tool paths on an IPad or other tablet and wirelessly send the GCode to the machine. There are a couple of apps that create tool paths for 2.5 D work(Replicantis and CNC Pen), but not 3D. I was using Fusion360 until Autodesk’s cloud-based updating rendered my MacBook Pro obsolete. I was excited to hear C3D announce Carbide Connect and that got me thinking of a new workflow. I would love to be able to ditch the laptop altogether as I think it is an archaic way of designing in the modern world. I realize there are 3 separate issues involved:

  1. CAD Design
  2. CAM and gcode creation
  3. Sending and receiving gcode/machine control
    It would be nice and a huge time-saver if they would all play together nicely, but I will continue dreaming.
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Yeah, being able to send CAM wirelessly to a Carbide Connect-enabled machine will be very convenient.

Rather envy you having the iPad Pro and Pencil — it’s the first Apple machine I’ve wanted to buy for a long while, and it may have to move up the priority stack (I’m hoping I’ve convinced my daughter to buy the twain, and to get a Mac Mini and the new Wacom Cintiq, so will get to try it out).

It’s funny. I originally got the MacBookPro for audio recording as FireWire was the industry standard at the time. I used an older Mac for Illustrator and Photoshop. Now, just a few years later the iPad made entire $1,000,000 studio mixing boards obsolete.
My cell phone carrier Verizon had a good deal where if you added an iPad Pro with cellular data to your existing plan, they spread the payments over 2 years. I really can’t afford it, but I may be forced to buy another laptop or iMac for CNC work. I really liked the way Fusion 360 is laid out. It’s a very familiar way of working for me, but I am gonna start learning Meshcam. It’s always nice to have options.