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Open-Source CAM/Gcode/Tool-Path solutions compatible with Alibre for 3axis CNC Router?

Hello everyone,

I'm looking into some possible options for a 3axis CNC router setup compatible with Alibre exportable files and was hoping for some opinions and suggestions. My previous employer was using fusion360 to design and generate Gcode for their Mach3 CNC controller and in all it was a pretty good setup for their needs. I would like to get a smaller setup for my studio and I'm trying to figure out some good Free/Open-Source alternatives. I would like to avoid Fusion360 as they could update their licensing policies at any point locking out the free capabilities for CAM/Gcode.

The best option I have found so far is model with Alibre Design, use FreeCad as a Gcode/Tool-Path generator, then use LinuxCNC to operate the CNC Router.
I have also looked into FreeMill by mecsoft and PyCAM as options for tool path generation but am hoping for some more options. Also any good alternatives to LinuxCNC are welcome albeit LinusCNC being substantially robust open source software that will be pretty hard to beat.

Thanks in advance for any input! I've also look through the forum for topics inline with this but mostly saw suggestions for paid and/or 2.5 axis programs; but, maybe I missed the thread I needed to see.

Cheers and good health in the festive season!
 

Ken226

Senior Member
I've tried most of the free, open source CAM programs. Compared to Fusion, none of them were good, and most were pretty bad.

Being a Fusion user myself, I found everything else pretty tough to learn.

I ended up getting away from Fusion for the same reasons you mentioned. So far, my favorite has been CamBam.

It's 150$, has a steep learning curve, but has an excellent forum, plenty of video tutorials on YouTube, and has proven quite capable.

I believe Alibre sells MeshCAM, and some people love it. Personally, I like alot more control of the toolpaths than MeshCAM offers. It seemed a bit too, automatic, for my tastes, if that makes any sense.
 
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I've tried most of the free, open source CAM programs. Compared to Fusion, none of them were good, and most were pretty bad.

Being a Fusion user myself, I found everything else pretty tough to learn.

I ended up getting away from Fusion for the same reasons you mentioned. So far, my favorite has been CamBam.

It's 150$, has a steep learning curve, but has an excellent forum, plenty of video tutorials on YouTube, and has proven quite capable.

I believe Alibre sells MeshCAM, and some people love it. Personally, I like alot more control of the toolpaths than MeshCAM offers. It seemed a bit too, automatic, for my tastes, if that makes any sense.
I did come across CamBam in the forums here. I looked at it prior to making this thread and I thought it was 2.5 axis software. Looking again after your post I see they say something about Waterline 3d operations. I also looked at the trial version of MeshCam that Alibre bundles with the Workshop version of Alibre but to purchase a copy of that is $250 for the limited version and $500 for the full version which is more than I want to spend currently. If CNC becomes a real money maker for me I could easily see investing in some good software, the $150 for CamBam could be okay early on.

Thanks for your input! I will have to have a deeper look into CamBam. I'd love to know what kinds of applications you have used CamBam for and your thoughts on CamBam for 3d tool paths.
 

Ken226

Senior Member
As for 3d, I've used CamBam for engraving cylinders and hemispheres, and some waterline contouring with ball mills. I like that it gives the user so much control over the toolpaths. There are also lots of plugins available for it that expand it's capabilities.

But, the downside to that is that it's not very intuitive, at all. I definitely wouldn't have figured it out on my own like I did with Fusion. It look lots of videos and forum participation to learn it.

It's not complicated, it's actually pretty simple. Just not very intuitive.

Once you get over the initial hump and the light bulb comes on, the rest comes pretty fast.
 
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