Shapeoko / SolidWorks?

Anyone using SolidWorks to create Gcode for their Shapeoko? I’m a design engineer and use SW so it seems logical to look at using it for programming as well as I have it free with the design software and then everything would be done in the same environment.

I’ve just spoken to my reseller who’s been kind enough to give me an overview of it but I need a post processor. They can write one for me but a quick Google popped up these guys who have a free one available for download. Anyone used it?

Any general views/experience/pointers would be interesting to hear.

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Half the time I use SW to design, then import the STEP to Fusion360 and take it from there with CAM.
I know it’s not the best practice, but I’m still learning F360 CAD and I’m so much faster in SW (day job).

I would assume the free one would be suitable. Quick test or two should proof it out.

Using HSMWorks (SW add-on) at work and it’s a pretty solid CAM option. Works pretty comparable to F360 (except no tabs option which I really miss). Same post processor (Carbide/Grbl) available too.

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I use SW a bit through work too and much prefer the CAD side of it to Fusion360.

I haven’t tried the built in CAM suite in 2018 but you’ve peaked my interest so I will get onto it, I think with the post you could just go with a standard Gcode post and edit it as required, maybe using the Fusion360 Shapeoko/Grbl post as a guide? I’ve not done much with postprocessors in SW.

HSMworks is $2500/year, not sure I can warrant that, but I’ve heard the SW CAM option is decent for 2.5D

Fusion360 and Autodesk HSM/HSMWorks use the same posts.

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believe you’re on the right track.
if doesn’t work out then F360 is a good fallback.

@mikep yeah I understand that hsmworks and f360 are practically identical, the issue being that hsmworks is a pretty pricey add on. Solidworks includes a CAM option which looks like its worth investigating.

@PaulAlfaro I’m away from my machine for 2 weeks now but will get into it, the philosophy around gmwking toolpaths is quite different to anything I’ve used before

I so wish SolidWorks offered even basic 3D machining as standard: I think I’ll end up having to pick up F360 to do 3D work in future. Hard to justify HSMworks for the little I do. For now though I still think there’s value in using SolidWorks for programming: I guess it’ll be pretty capable, it has feature recognition, it previews of tool paths, all my machining data will be stored with my designs, less steps to go through… I can think of plenty.

I’ve done absolutely nothing with posts, so the less I have to meddle the better! Hopefully that free one will do what I need.

So once I’ve completed the programming in SW, how do I actually communicate that to the Shapeoko? Do I still use Carbide Motion or do I need something else?

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It loooks like HSMWorks has a free 2.5D plg-in available and a post processor for C3D machines. Just use the “Any Vendor” drop down menu to select “Carbide 3D”.

I am not sure if it is for the Nomad or SO3, but there’s only one way to find out. . .


GRBL is GRBL. Nomad and SO3 are both GRBL. The Posts are the same ones you can find on the autodesk post site. There are others around that work better (in my opinion) than the ones there.

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I’ve got to admit I’m not super impressed with the standard Soliworks Cam offering, it works well enough but is only 2D, and offers no Adaptive/trochoidal options… The ‘professional’ version offers more but I’m yet to find out how much it costs

I think I’ll give the free HSMworks a shot. I’ve been modelling in F360 lately and just went back to SW to try the CAM out and forgot how much I prefer it to F360 for modelling.

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If you’ve been modeling in f360, it’s got great CAM…


I use SolidWorks. I also have the SolidWorks CAM post processor from Hawkridge Systems, but I haven’t used it yet.

I agree with what others have said - after using Fusion, SolidWorks CAM seems relatively unimpressive, but in fairness I haven’t spent much time with it.

My current workflow is: model in SolidWorks, import into Fusion, program & send code to Carbide Motion. If necessary I can make minor model edits in Fusion but it’s so different than SolidWorks (and I’m so slow at it) that it’s usually quicker to go back to SolidWorks & make the changes. If I get going with SolidWorks CAM, everything stays in SW & model edits update my mill program.

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Basically my same workflow until I get more proficient in F360.
Hoping to do so simply so I’ll be able to use either CAD with ease.

Prefer SW CAD, but prefer F360 CAM. The struggle.

Are you guys exporting as step files into F360?

Yeah the struggle is real, hsmworks is the answer but it’s a lot of $$. I’m keen to give the free 2.5d option a go but I use the 3d toolpaths a lot in F360.

Or maybe I just need to suck it up and start modelling solely in fusion and learn to like it

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no need to export - you can import SW files straight into Fusion. Drag and drop.

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Gave HSMworks Ultimate for Solidworks a go today, it seems pretty slick. Very similar to F360 CAM which I like. Still yet to try importing from SW to F360, that’s next on the list

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its very similiar, only feature I wish it had was the generative tabs option that F360 offers.

it’s been brought up on the forums but it’s not ‘high priority’ and would require extensive work to include.
womp womp.

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After reading this I went to investigate HSMWorks & was disappointed to see what it costs, BUT then I found HSMExpress which is a free ‘lite’ version of HSMWorks. It plugs into SolidWorks. Made by Autodesk & feels a lot like Fusion, which is awesome. 2D Adaptive is there. Carbide post processor is there. I can’t wait to try this!


Madhatter mentioned this earlier in the thread, definitely worth a look! I understand it’s just like Fusion but I find modelling in Solidworks far easier than Fusion.

Yeah I am also quite disappointed in what HSMworks costs, but it is great they offer the free 2.5D version, This will get most jobs done - unfortunately I’m just getting in to 3D machining and need some 3D toolpaths!

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