Optimizing MeshCam Settings

I did a little bit of poking around and didn’t see this posted but feel free to move it if I missed it…

I keep seeing MeshCam generate tool paths that cause it to run 50x longer than it needs to. It will make a little cut in one place then move all the way across the part then make a tiny cut in another place instead of just working in one area to prevent wasting huge amounts of time in travel.

I’ve been using MeshCam for a couple months now and I still don’t have an intuitive feel for how the different roughing and finishing options work or how to know when to use which ones. Is there anything better than the MeshCam manual that’s available online to explain how each of the options affect the tool paths?

I’m guessing my settings are the problem most times but I don’t know how to figure out if that is true or not. I can’t find any really good in depth tutorials.

Thanks for any links or suggestions!

There is a tool that could be modified to optimize this, but it doesn’t currently understand Z. It doesn’t know how to keep all the cuts in z-order, so it’s not so useful for this (gcodeoptimizer). I’m not irritated enough to fix it so it can. Not yet, anyway. That said, fusion360 seems to do a pretty good job when it generates paths, but it’s a lot harder to learn to use for this.

I’m waiting for Fusion 360 to stabilize a little more before I transition. MeshCam is relatively easy to use but I really need to figure out if the software is poor or if my understanding of how to use it is the problem.

Will or @Randy, any thoughts? BTW, how do you tag a person’s name in a post?


My apologies, I only use opensource when I have a choice.

To tag a name type the @ symbol and then type or select the desired username.

I would suggest you post one of the parts you’re having problems with, along with your settings, etc, to see if our resident MeshCAM gurus can offer advice for how to approach machining them. I would also suggest the MeshCAM forum, where you will also see @randy quite a lot, I think. I did both of those things when I was first learning MeshCAM, and it really helped.

It may also have helped that I had no previous CAM experience, so I didn’t know what to expect or not expect from CAM software. Now that I’ve got a bit more under my belt (though I’m still VERY much a novice), I find that MeshCAM is a good option for certain things, but I dislike having to trick it into doing tool paths that make sense, e.g. don’t involve tons of pointless rapids, make holes intelligently, etc. For 2d work I avoid it completely, preferring the buggy and limited Carbide Motion, or sometimes Easel, until I can manage to learn FusionCAM.

I transitioned from MeshCam over to Fusion 360 and I have to say it didn’t take too long to figure it out. One video tutorial on the CAM side of Fusion and I was good to go. If you can’t get meshcam doing what you need it to I think it’s worth trying.

Also it eliminated my need to move the CAD file into another program which is a time saver.

You can go the hard route and define cuts in sections in some software, or you can go the easy route and have the software auto detect and attempt to figure out what is what. Neither is the the best for every job. Some jobs are better off with a combination of the two approaches. Most software that I have seen attempt a layered approach for anything automatic. The down fall is exactly what you are describing because it attempts to do everything at each Z depth all the way down so it my need to need to do one side, then go to the next side and continue until that same Z depth is done then it steps down to the next Z depth and continues. Not every program works this way but a lot of them do. If there is a way to section it off you may be able to avoid this issue but I don’t know MeshCam sorry.

Thanks for the feedback so far. I appreciate it.

A lot depends on the workpiece geometry, and especially whether the job is 3D or 2.5D. In 3D there are relationships between cutter size (ball-end, of course) and stepover/stepdown depending on how fine you need your surface finish. There are settings for limiting surface angle ranges of the parallel and waterline finishing so you can machine the whole surface without a lot of duplication or overlap. For 3D I like to use a ball-end cutter for roughing, because it leaves the rough surface with less terracing for the finishing cutter to run into.

I generally don’t use MeshCAM for 2.5D machining. I’ve had SheetCam (2.5D CAM) for almost as long as I’ve had MeshCAM for the 3D CAM.

If you attach some pictures or screenshots of the jobs you’re concerned with I might have more specific comments.


Thanks for the reply, Randy. I’ll post some pictures as these come up in the future. There are so many I feel like I would be spending a lot of time posting though. It sounds like the problem may be partly something I’m doing and also some issues with MeshCAM.

There are so many options for CAM and its hard to discern which ones are worth spending money on. SheetCAM is close to $200. I’ll probably buy something better for 2D and 2.5D machining after I learn more.

Thanks again for the reply!



Here’ one example… no matter what I do I can’t get MeshCAM to cut the slot in the attached .STL using a 1/8" endmill. The slot is 0.130". I run into at least two issues every day where MeshCAM won’t do something that should be very easy to do.

Thanks for any help

I tried it for the 10th time using different cut and keepout zones and it worked. Originally I used a polyline cut area. It would not generate a cut path doing it that way. Another hour wasted with MeshCAM.

I tried it again and now I can’t get it to run the slot again. I REALLY need a MeshCAM alternative. I think I’ll go do some searching. It couldn’t take as much time as trying to make this software work.It should come with a disclaimer… DO NOT USE THIS SOFTWARE FOR ANYTHING EXCEPT 3D PROFILES OR YOU WILL WASTE YOUR LIFE. :wink:

I guess that answers some of my questions about mesh cam. Thanks @Tshulthise