What is the best way to go about

What is the best way to go about doing a 3D job on your manchine if you have never done one before.

Doing a 3D job is no different on the machine than doing a 2.5D job:

  • clamp down the stock
  • zero the machine relative to it
  • send the file

The difference is how one makes the file, and does CAM on it — 3D modelling can be difficult and challenging — list of free/opensource software options here: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/CAD#3D — I use OpenSCAD, since it’s straight-forward to use (Platonic ideals of geometry and all that) — commercial options are listed at: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Commercial_Software#3D_CAD

If you’re not leery of the cloud and the licensing limitations, OnShape is probably the best 3D program to learn — if you want a local install, then MOI (Moment of Inspiration) seems a good option — or one can use Autodesk Fusion 360 for everything.

Once you have a 3D model created, then you have to work out how to rout it out of a block of material — CAM — the commercial options for this are listed at: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/CAM#3D — MeshCAM seems the most straight-forward to use.

Hopefully someone who actually does 3D will chime in — the last time I did full 3D, I wound up flattening the file into layers and carving them out sequentially. I’ve been trying to do an all-in-one file of my current project, but am about to break down and give up and do it in sequential layers again.

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Well all my machining is drawn in 3D and then I use meshcam (free with your machine, not sure about with the SO but definately with the nomad) to create the gcode for carbide motion to interpret, carbide motion just takes the gcode so no problem there.

Really the only hard part of 3d for someone new will be learning a modeling program, I use solidworks but as @WillAdams has mentioned their are other options that will be cheaper and easier to learn if you don’t have SW.

Another option (if it is a simple part) is asking me to model it for you, I did that already for one other on the forum and have offered to do it for someone else. I might be able to help.

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I model and draw in 3D almost exclusively now (as opposed to using Illustrator/Photoshop etc.) I have a traditional graphic arts background, so I can’t speak about engineering programs such as SolidWorks or OnShape, but I find Fusion360 the easiest and most powerful program I’ve used. I know several people on here use it extensively. It has built-in CAM which to me is a lot more elegant of an approach as you can somewhat quickly work up a model, generate Gcode and simulate machining it via its animation facility. An example of what I drew up for a member here after a short learning curve:

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The Nomad gets a bundled license for MeshCAM (full 3D) specific to that machine — both the Nomad and the Shapeoko 3 get Carbide Create (2.5D):