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Tool Paths Software Page

Table of Contents

Introduction

Toolpaths are programs that direct a CNC machine, telling it exactly how and where to move in order to cut out your part. Typically written in a language called “G-code”, they are the bridge between a part created in a modeling program (or an unaltered 3D scan) and your mill or lathe. The CAM (Computer Assisted Machining) programs in this section import your model or scan and using information you supply—such as the cutting tool you plan to use, the speed you wish to cut at, and the desired fineness of cut—and write a G-code program, which is essentially a text file, although it may have a different extension like .nc or .tap. This file is opened by the control software in the computer running your machine, or by the machine itself if it has a proprietary controller. Since the format in which each machine expects its programs to be written varies slightly from controller to controller, it is important to use the correct “post-processor”, which massages your toolpath program into the form appropriate for the machine you will be using. Most CAM programs have a list of post-processors (or “posts” for short) to choose from that encompasses a wide range of controllers, but if yours is an odd one, then a customized post may be necessary.

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VisualMill 6.0

Windows Tool Path Generation

VisualMill Process Progression Image

This is the CAM program for people who want it all—2D, 212-D, 3D, as well as 4th and even 5th axis functionality. MecSoft Corporation has made it their mission to bring high-end machining capability to the world, at a price point far below other programs in the same league. With a wide range of machining strategies (like pencil tracing, between-two-curves milling, plunge roughing, and steep area remachining, to name but a few), advanced simulation capabilities and toolpath editing facilities, and 4th-axis continuous contouring, this package will never leave you without a way to cut even the most complex machinable part. It comes with post-processors for a wide range of milling machines, including most of those commonly available, but if yours is not on the list they will configure a post for you at no extra charge. Excellent free phone support is also included. List price is $4000, but we offer it for considerably less—phone or email us for our discount price. While 5th axis positioning is included in this package, the recently-developed 5th axis continuous-contouring module is extra. If you have a mill equipped with a 5th axis, call or e-mail for a price on a 5th axis post for your machine.

MecSoft has also released a new 6.0 simplified version of their product. (MecSoft has renamed their products. The feature-reduced version, which used to be called VisualMill 6.0 Basic, is now referred to as VisualMill 6.0. Their full-featured product, which used to be called VisualMill 6.0 Full is now called VisualMill 6.0 Pro.) VisualMill 6.0 comes with full 2D, 212-D, and 3D capability, but it lacks some advanced remachining routines, and a 4th and 5th axis function. It also lacks the $4,000 price tag of MecSoft’s VisualMill 6.0 Pro product. If you’ve got a 3-axis set-up, the basic version is all you’re likely to need. If you have a 4th axis, the 4th axis module can be added separately for $800 extra. VisualMill 6.0 works in an easy-to-use Windows environment, which allows tool paths to be previewed in motion. It imports Rhino 3dm files directly, as well as polygon formats like STL and DXF, and outputs standard g-code with an easily configurable postprocessor that supports nearly every CNC mill made. VisualMill 6.0 can import IGES, Rhino, DXF, DWG, TL, VRML, RAW, and Point Cloud. Other file formats (Parasolid, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, and A3DS) can be imported with additional modules sold separately.

Screenshot from VisualMill

Manufacturer: MecSoft Corporation

Version Sold:

VisualMill 6.0 Pro

List Price: $4,000

VisualMill 6.0

List Price: $1,000

Additional Module:

4th Axis Module Add-on Module

List Price: $1,000

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RhinoCAM 2.0 and RhinoCAM Pro

Plug-ins to McNeel’s Rhino 4.0 3D Modeling Software

MecSoft Corporation’s plug-ins to McNeel’s Rhino 4.0 3D modeling software brings VisualMill’s functionality into the Rhino environment. RhinoCAM 2.0 offers all the functionality of VisualMill 6.0 while RhinoCAM Pro offers the functionality of VisualMill 6.0 Pro. For someone who likes Rhino, wants to develop CNC toolpaths for their Rhino models, and wishes to avoid the hassle of learning a new interface, the combination of Rhino and RhinoCAM would be a good choice. VisualMill’s toolbars are simply added to the Rhino workspace, so one can go seamlessly from model creation to G-code. Since VisualMill already opens Rhino’s 3dm file format, this avoids the extra steps involved in closing one application and opening another. One can use Rhino’s familiar curve creation tools, and see them pop up as “regions” in the VisualMill window. Surfaces and meshes are also recognized on creation, and one can go back and forth as needed, adding reference geometry as it’s required. This plug-in comes with a fairly lucid “Getting Started” guide, and an illustrated Online Help section that helps to demystify the process of toolpath creation for the uninitiated. The 4th axis module is also available for the RhinoCAM plugin. The full version of VisualMill 6.0 now can also plug into Rhino with their new product RhinoCAM Pro which offers all the features of VisualMill 6.0 (including pencil tracing, between-curves remachining, full 4-axis machining, and 5-axis indexing) within Rhino’s intuitive interface.

4-Axis Parallel Finishing and 4-Axis Roughing - Tool Paths Created Inside Rhino by RhinoCAM plug-in

Manufacturer: MecSoft Corporation’s RhinoCAM Site

Versions Sold:

RhinoCAM 2.0 Basic

List Price: $1,000

RhinoCAM 2.0 with 4th Axis Support

List Price: $2,000

RhinoCAM 2.0 Basic Bundled with Rhino 4.0

List Price: $1,000 + $995 = $1,995

RhinoCAM 2.0 with 4th Axis Support Bundled with Rhino 4.0

List Price: $2,000 + $995 = $2,995

RhinoCAM Pro

List Price: $4,000

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VisualTurn 1.0 from MecSoft

Lathe programming with the ease and flexibility of mill programming

VisualTurn Screenshot

MecSoft Corporation has done it again. VisualTurn is a program that automates lathe operations in the same graphic way that VisualMill has automated milling operations. You can start with a linear plot or a 3D model and work your way through a series of templates which enable you to generate roughing, finishing, curve following, grooving, threading, and parting-off toolpaths in standard G-code adapted to the requirements of your particular CNC lathe.

VisualTurn’s toolpaths are based on the profile of your part, VisualTurn will either use a linear profile imported with the part, or derive the line from an intersection of a vertical plane with your 3D part. Then it’s just a matter of choosing or defining the tools you wish to use, and setting the parameters of the various turning operations you need to go through to produce it on a CNC lathe. Postprocessors are provided for a wide range of standards, and VisualTurn’s configurable postprocessor generator makes it easy to customize posts for the rare machines that aren’t on the list.

Manufacturer: MecSoft Corporation

Version Sold:

VisualTurn 1.0

List Price: $1,250

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DeskProto 5.0 Full Version

Automated Numeric Control Tool Path Generation

DeskProto Box

Added in the 5.0 version are interface improvements, a new 123 waxring wizard (which works with DeskProto’s waxring fixture), and the ability to import bitmaps and bump them up into 3D with a heightfield algorithm. However for those who don’t need these features or are feeling the results of the global economic downturn, DeskProto has decided to re-release their fully functional 4th-axis capable 4.1 version with certain improvements at a new lower price. This 4.2 version is Vista-compatible, does not require a dongle, and, like the Lite version, can be ordered over the Internet without shipping being necessary.

DeskProto 5.0 full comes with a USB hardware dongle and must be shipped. There’s a downloadable time-limited demo available on the Manufacturer’s web site that is fully functional, so you can see the amazing speed with which DeskProto produces toolpaths, and try them out on your CNC machine. United Artworks is an authorized dealer of DeskProto software and we can offer it at an exceptionally low price.

DeskProto Screenshot and Milling Process

Manufacturer: Delft Spline Systems

Version Sold:

DeskProto 5.0

List Price: €995.00

DeskProto 4.2

List Price: €595.00

Upgrade to DeskProto 5.0 from DeskProto Full 1.0 or higher

List Price: €395.00

Upgrade to DeskProto 5.0 from DeskProto Lite

List Price: €845.00

DeskProto 5.0 Educational Version

Requires proof of status as full-time student, faculty, or educational institution. See order form for details on proving educational status.

List Price: €248

Upgrade to DeskProto 5.0 Educational Version from DeskProto 1.0 Educational Version or higher

Upgrade requires that you already own the hardware dongle.

List Price: €95.00

DeskProto 5.0 Educational Lab License

The Educational Lab License is the best solution for classroom use. This allows DeskProto 5.0 to be run on up to 25 networked PCs at once.

Requires proof of status as full-time student, faculty, or educational institution. See order form for details on proving educational status.

List Price: €1,295.00

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DeskProto Lite 5

A Low Cost Alternative

DeskProto Box

The makers of DeskProto have also introduced a new “lite” version at a much lower price. While it lacks some of the advanced features of the full version (such as 4th axis support and the 2-side wizard), it will swiftly and reliably produce tool paths for a wide range of 3-axis machines from complex polygon meshes, and offers a great deal of configurability for tools and milling operations. DeskProto Lite 5 does not offer rotation axis machining, although it is possible to use the 4th axis in “indexing” mode, where the 4th axis is fixed in position as machining progresses, and then is moved to a new position corresponding to a rotation of the part for the next machining pass. Other than the restriction of features, DeskProto Lite 5 is basically the same program as the full version of DeskProto 5.0. For many users of 3-axis mills, it offers all the functionality they need. United Artworks is an authorized dealer of DeskProto software and we can offer it at an exceptionally low price.

This product is not sold in a box. It is sold via download only with the manuals available as PDF files. The software can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s web site as a time-limited demo. When you’re ready to buy the software, order it from United Artworks for our special low price. You’ll receive a registration code that keeps it from expiring after the 30 day demo period expires.

If you purchase DeskProto 5 Lite and later decide that you want to upgrade to the full version of DeskProto 5.0, you’ll receive a credit equal to the price you paid for the lite version (less tax, if applicable).

DeskProto Screenshot

Manufacturer: Delft Spline Systems

Version Sold:

DeskProto 5 Lite

List Price: €145.00

Upgrade to DeskProto Lite 5 from DeskProto Lite 1.0 or higher

List Price: €62.00

DeskProto 4 Lite Educational Version

Requires proof of status as full-time student, faculty, or educational institution. See order form for details on proving educational status.

List Price: €62.00

Upgrade to DeskProto 4 Lite Educational Version from DeskProto Lite Educational Version 1.0 or later

Requires proof of status as full-time student, faculty, or educational institution. See order form for details on proving educational status.

List Price: €16.00

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