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Alibre Workshop FAQ

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I already own an Alibre CAD product - can I add CAM to my license?
Sure thing - you can add it to Alibre Atom3D, Alibre Design Professional, or Alibre Design Expert - just email us or call 877-7-ALIBRE and we'll get you set up.
What kind of license do I have? Do I pay every year?
You'll get a permanent license of the design and CAM software. The software is not a subscription.
Do I pay for updates?
You can pay for an optional update plan for Alibre Atom3D that gives you a full year of updates. As an introductory offer, you'll automatically get all the CAM updates for FREE until April 2021. After April 2021, we'll introduce optional yearly update plans for the CAM component too.
Existing optional Alibre Atom3D update plans cost $50 / year. Once we release the CAM update plan in April 2021, that will likely also cost just $50 / year. This means to get updates on Alibre Workshop, you can pay $100 / year total for updates if you like. In the meantime though, all CAM updates are free.
How many machines can I install on?
You can install the CAM and CAD software on as many machines as you like. You can use the CAD software on 2 computers at the same time. This makes it easy to have a "workshop computer" near your mill and a regular machine in the air conditioning, both with everything. If you need to, it's easy to "decommission" a computer and free the license up to use on another machine - just takes a few clicks.
Can I use this to make money?
Yes, and Godspeed! There are no use restrictions of any kind. No reporting. No forms. No verifications. Just go design and machine stuff.  
Is there any limit on how many projects I can design or have active at once?
No. That would be silly!
Where is my data stored?
Wherever you want.
Can I design products or projects in Alibre Workshop?
Absolutely! Alibre Workshop's 3D design component is the legendary Alibre Atom3D - you'll do all the design work inside Alibre Atom3D and when you're ready to program your CAM toolpaths, you'll transfer your files into the CAM program via STL in 3D or DXF in 2D.
What CAM software is in Alibre Workshop?
Alibre Workshop comes with MeshCAM Pro for Alibre - it's the world's easiest to use CAM software.
Is Alibre Workshop right for my use case?
Alibre Workshop is focused first and foremost on ease-of-use and is perfect for making things on router tables and entry to mid-level mills. If you have a very expensive mill, chances are you are a high production shop and are looking to maximize efficiency at every step - if that's the case, Alibre Workshop may not be right for you. If you cut mostly big, chunky metal parts, Alibre Workshop may not be right for you. Alibre Workshop is for people who don't want or need to become "experts" in CAM. It makes assumptions, provides you with just the most important options, and makes toolpaths. Don't let its simplicity fool you - it's capable of milling very complex products. The best way to know is to just give it a try
Why is Alibre Workshop's CAM easier than other CAM software?
If you've used many CAM packages you've probably noticed every menu has dozens of options. It's overwhelming! Most CAM packages try to cater to very wide audiences, and that includes high-volume, time-sensitive machining businesses. Those kinds of businesses need a lot of control - if they can shave off 3% machining time they may save a ton of money. MeshCAM is not for those guys - it's for you! MeshCAM simplifies the process, makes some assumptions, and automates a few things. Your parts are still going to look great.
Why would I not want to use Alibre Workshop?
The CAM in Alibre Workshop is targeted at regular people, not high-end machine shops doing expensive, competitive milling work. Most regular people mill parts out of wood, plastic, wax, Styrofoam, and other similar materials. The hard stuff - metal - can require more specialized toolpaths and a bit more control, as well as the ability to turn on and off things like coolant. While you can cut some light metalwork with MeshCAM, if you cut big chunks of metal often you might want to invest in package more suited for the task. It is also not suitable for 4 or 5-axis machining.
That being said, you might still like the design component - Alibre Atom3D - which you can use with any CAM software.
What kinds of machining does Alibre Workshop do?
It has 2.5 and 3-axis toolpaths. It is not suitable for 4-axis (rotary) or more complex 5-axis machining. The vast, vast majority of machining done is 2.5 and 3 axis machining, so it's quite likely that's what you want to do too.
Can I generate supports to hold my part down while machining?
Yes, with a few clicks you can generate supports in CAM that will hold your part to the stock and reduce the need for complex fixtures, finicky double-sided tape, or other methods. You'll need to cut off the supports when the part is done and do some light sanding, but it's worth it when your parts don't fly off the table!
Can I do double-sided machining?
Sure. If you have a flip jig or some other way to accurately flip your parts, you can use the Flip Machining feature and create toolpaths for both sides simultaneously.
Can I simulate my toolpaths and see what they will do before machining?
You can and you should. Simulating the toolpaths and seeing a preview of what to expect is an integral part of machining workflows and can expose errors way earlier in the process.
I can import images into CAM - what should I expect and what should I know?
You can import image files into CAM - but - the image files most CAM software uses are a special kind of image called a height map. They look a little weird and they work a little weird too. The brightness of the pixels determines how high the geometry should be for that pixel. If you have heightmap images - you can find or buy them in a few places online - you can machine some really cool stuff. If you expect to import a picture of grandma, it's likely the resulting geometry will leave you a tad disturbed; most regular pictures you might take with your camera are not suitable for this kind of thing.

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