Time to make a decision on software

My Carbide Create Pro license expired, and although it has been relatively easy to maneuver around, I’d like to get into 3d art sometime soon. I was looking at VCarve Desktop because someone mentioned how much they like it.

This is just a hobby I make a little money on the side, so not a full time gig. I’m not looking for something that has a long ramp up learning curve to it. I was just starting to really understand Carbide Create Pro. But if I’m going to spend $350 on software, I might as well get the best I can for that money. I’m still a noob by most standards. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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What type of work do you do mostly? V-carve sign work? Mechanical parts and similar? The right software really depends on this.

Some sign type work, star cutting on flags, starting to get into inlay work. But I’d like to get into 3D and double sided stuff eventually. I like to push myself to do something different after every project. I just want to get decent software, with good support, that can handle expansion of my current hobbies.

I haven’t personally used VCarve Desktop or CC Pro but I have looked at and heard good things about both. That type of software seems like the best choice for you. I personally use Fusion 360 and love it. It has a bit of a learning curve but there is a ton of educational content on it in both written and video form. It is good for more advanced cutting strategies which helps a bunch when cutting metals. Most everything I do is in aluminum and is a mechanical part. It isn’t great for v-carve or inlay work when compared to either of those. Others will have to chime in on their experience with other options.

In addition to V-Carve you might also want to look at Carveco The Carveco Software Range : Creative Design & CNC Software

There is always Fusion 360. Free to hobbyists. That is always a plus.
It does have a bit of a learning curve but what software doesn’t.

Does anyone use Adobe Illustrator for design? Is it compatible? I know it can export .svg files but I don’t know enough about the process yet, I’m a newb.

Yes, folks use Adobe Illustrator — just export (don’t save) as an SVG, and if need be, clear the “Responsive” check box — the SVGs can then be imported into Carbide Create to create toolpaths.


Get Vcarve Desktop (or spring for Pro). You won’t look back.

You didn’t relate your age. The “learning curve” with Fusion 360 is not about learning to manipulate the controls; its about pulling and pushing and massaging vertices and views of objects to get what you want. Its much more about engineering and manufacturing than woodworking. Be prepared for that.

Vcarve is for woodworking. Their forum is as good as this one, but more focused on woodworking. If that’s your shtick, then get Vcarve. Don’t look back.

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Although I’ve not bitten the bullet yet (funding) VCarve Desktop would be my choice, too.

The good thing about Vectric software is you can upgrade to the Pro version at just the difference in price - a form of credit, maybe?

I’ve been using the trial version for a little while and tested some of their sample prints, but as @CrookedWoodTex said, the learning curve with F360 is steep and is really for engineering and manufacturing.

@Jepho wasn’t too fond of VCarve, deciding to go down the CarveCo route, so he might have a thing or two to say about both.

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I am a fan of Carbide Create, and I’m also struggling with the pricing details of Carbide Create Pro.

I understand the $120/year lease price, but am not interested in something that one day just stops working. It left a really bad taste in my mouth when I discovered that a project I put a lot of time and effort into designing and making, I was unable to make a 2nd one because the pro features expired.

So I was looking at the “Perpetual License” at $360. I would probably go that route, but it only comes with one year of updates. Carbide Create is a great product, but it’s still young and a year from now that one year old “Perpetual License” is probably going to need another $120/year until the product development is complete.

I wish they offered something like an “early adopter” perpetual license, same pricing details but a special offer for early adopters that included 3 to 5 years of updates.

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True. It made no great difference to me in the sense that I was a long time Mac user and VCarve and CarveCo are both only available for a Windows PC. I am running CarveCo (Maker) edition in a Windows 10 Home, Virtual Machine (Parallels). It runs very well without lag and costs $15 per month plus VAT @ 20%.

My issue with Vectric V Carve Desktop Pro, which I had on an extended trial, is the archaic GUI. It looks like something Noah may have used on the ark. It may be a Windows issue but in the world of Mac software it is not usual to find every function that cannot be seen, is hidden behind its own graphic and drop down menu. It required a painful amount of clicking ok just to approve a certain workflow. I found it tedious and unhelpful. I was also not impressed by a trial that would not let the user run a couple of their own files. The ability to see how the software would run in real life was very severely restricted.

The CarveCo software was also run in Windowss 10. I was instantly at home with the modern GUI and the desktop metaphor. Buttons behaved as expected with no constant requirement to push ‘ok’ after selecting an action that you want to perform. The design language will be familiar to any person who has used a design software for CAD, photo image manipulation or vector drawing.

Interestingly, the software was developed from the hideously expensive pro version which is used to run large farms of CNC machinery in production environments. This means that the features which have been removed are not needed by the average user. It also means that what remains is very well put together and works very well. I am on the cusp of producing some video footage that demonstrates the use cases and how easy the software is to use. I have had my time occupied by several unexpected events so I had to shelve that project for a while.

Carbide Create in its current form is good for the simple things one can do. It has a pro version which I could not see myself paying for because the software is insufficiently developed. While the CC interface is simple, CC can do much that is asked of it. I guess the GUI is what puts me off paying for a pro version. It would need to be much more user focussed, with more choices and persistence settings for every option than the current offering permits, before I would pay for it.

The software dance is probably going to depend on what you want to do, what you see yourself doing in the future and how much work do you want to expend on learning software. It takes a while to figure out the three components required in software. CAD/CAM and a post-processor/sender. The likely outcome is that you will want, eventually to use parts of many offerings.


Man, “that’s harder’n I’d slam a door!”


Just sayin’… is all, Tex. :grin:

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Here is my deal.
Until I start making enough $ to warrant spending the cost of the ideal software I use FREE software.
Fusion 360 for when I need it. (Free to Hobbyists)
InkScape (converter to SVG or DXF Vectors)
F-Engrave (Vcarve or engrave)
Camotics (for simulation)
MeshLab (Changing the Number of Nodes)
Dmap2Gcode (for Heightmap 2.5D carvings)
Jscut (cam software - online or download)
Halftoner (photos to wood)
DXFtoGcode Converter
FreeCad (was using this before Fusion 360)
Blender (saw a vid of this for woodworking but never tried it as of yet.)

When ready I would lean toward Vectric (buy straight out) due to CarveCo Maker being subscription based. (expiration enevidable)


Thanks everyone. I truly appreciate the advice. I guess I should have mentioned I only do woodworking. This helps me out quite a bit. I totally agree with jepho that CC just isn’t developed well enough for a $360 perpetual license. Compare that to VCarve Desktop at the same price, and if VCarve made the Noah’s Ark, then CC Pro was used to carve out the Ten Commandments.

I’ll give Fusion 360 a shot, but I am not familiar with CAD. Once again,. you all came to the rescue with a ton of great comments. Thank you.

That is where I am at. I was in the middle of a project. Just got one of three cut on Monday, then Tuesday my license expired. No warning, nothing. Just dead in the water. Yet another reason I’m looking at another software vendor. I do love the CnC hardware though.


It was just my opinion. Computers are no longer new and we no longer expect to hear comments like “I see you have a computer; what do you use it for?” I found the Vectric GUI very awkward; although I am prepared to concede that it may be my own unfamiliarity with the Windows operating system. For me, it is important that the software does not get in the way of the work one wishes to accomplish.

My extended trial of Vectric’s V Carve Pro demonstrated that the company may be a little complacent. It appears to me that Vectric believe their software is unassailable and so they stick with that antiquated GUI, its legacy and a software model that is a pain in the butt to drive.

On YouTube Lars Christiansen has a lot of training vids for Fusion 360.
They helped me a lot.

Vectric left a bad taste in my mouth in late 2020 when I was trialing VCarve Desktop. I had some questions for their community while I was evaluating, but you can’t post unless you log in. Vectric denied me access and told me “the forum is reserved for license holders”. Not very friendly…

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