Shapeoko / SolidWorks?

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?

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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

1 Like

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

1 Like

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

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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!

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

Or see:

@WillAdams I’ll do you one better:

1 Like

For a couple of years I actually paid for the commercial license of Fusion 360 just for the free HSM Works CAM that it bizarrely comes with for some reason. It’s genuinely decent!

If you can still find it, the 2019 version of HSMExpress actually comes with an Autodesk-branded version of CIMCO Edit that doesn’t need to be initialized to run. So it’s perfect for a beater shop laptop that you dripfeed or load programs into the control with, and it doesn’t need Solidworks loaded too.

Obviously that doesn’t apply to Carbide Motion.

Either way, Solidworks CAM has come a long way recently and it might be worth using, especially since Solidworks for Makers is coming any day now.

I gave SolidWorks a healthy try. My thoughts:

  • Don’t bother with the Maker version. It looks like it’s going to cost about $100/year. You can get an EAA yearly membership for $40 and it comes with the full educational version of SolidWorks.
  • HSMWorks is ok for CAM but it’s missing tons of little things compared to Fusion or Inventor, such as tabs.
  • Of all the CAM solutions available for SolidWorks, I found the stock one to work best, with a bit of finagling.

@Moded1952 I agree with just about everything you said. EAA is a no-brainer, but I reserve judgment on Solidworks for Makers until its official release. I have been testing 3DExperience Solidworks (AKA Solidworks Connected) for just under a year and it definitely has some issues. For now, I prefer old-fashioned offline Solidworks and thankfully the VAR provided me a seat because of some technical problems my workstation had with the license.

I am not sure that Solidworks for Makers will come with CAM, since Solidworks Connected doesn’t seem to. That’s probably a good reason not to give up on HSMWorks just yet.

In terms of modeling features, there is no contest - especially if you use configurations.