Of all the CAM software packages that I have used, I have found that the Vectric CAM packages are the easiest to use.  

Vectric has three machining packages for doing 2.5D part creation.

  • Cut2D Desktop
  • Cut2D Pro
  • Vcarve Desktop
  • Vcarve Pro
  • ASpire

They all share the same interface. They differ only in the number of features each contain.

Cut2D Desktop is the baby in the bunch and starts out at $149. Aspire is the the most advanced and can be purchased for $1800. Vcarve Pro falls in the middle and is probably more than you will probably ever need for CAM software.

It is also important to note that Vectric sofware also has CAD features built-in.  Cut2D has enough for you to do some basic CAD. VCarve More, and Aspire with the most. 

While I found the CAM implementation of the Vectric software very simple to use, I dont care for the CAD.  I will use it for doing simple editing, or very simple part creation.

For this workflow, I will be using Vcarve Pro, but all the for-mentioned products will look the work exactly like what you see here.

Please note that you can click on each image to get a full size screen shoe of the process.

Step 1

The first thing I do when using Vcarve is to drag my DXF or EPS drawing export onto the Vcarve window.

You drawing will show up as shown here.


Step 2

If the drawing file contains the actual stock outline the width and height will be set for you as it is here.

You will need to set the stock thickness. In this case the stock I am using is 3/8" thick so I set the "Thickness" to .375.

We wont be using the "Origin offset" so it needs to be deselected.

Click the "Center data in Job" option to move the drawing into the correct position.

Click OK to continue.


Step 3

The first toolpath I will create is for all the holes. I select the five holes shown here and click the "Profile Operations" button shown here.


Step 4

You will be presented with a 2D Profile Toolpath pane shown here on the right.

The first thing you need to do when you start a new toolpath, is to select the tool you will be using. Click the on the "Select..." button in the Tool section.

This will bring up the Tool Database form. In this form you can select a tool.  In this case I will be using a 1/8" two flute end mill.

If the tool you are using does not exist in the database its very easy to add one.


Step 5

After the tool has been selected, you need to set the "Cutting Depth".  We wont be cutting all the way through the stock, so set the depth to .3, as shown here.

For your inside cuts you need to set the "Machine Vectors" to "Inside / Left", as shown here. 

Give the toolpath a name and hit the "Calculate" button.


Step 6

Vcarve has a very cool preview system.

I like placing the 3D view in isometric view shown here.

Click the "Preview Toolpath" button to show the part once the toolpath has been applied.

Once you are done with the preview, click the "Close" button.


Step 7

Next, we need to create a pocket toolpath. Highlight the two vectors shown here and click the "Pocket" toolpath icon shown here.

Vcarve will remove the material between the two vectors you select.


Step 8

You will need to select the tool for the pocket, just like before.  In this case we will be using the same 1/8" end mill.

Set the "Cutting Depth" to .3".  

Select "Offset" or "Raster".  Offset is a little faster, but, Raster has more options.  Both will work.

Give the toolpath a name and hit the "Calculate" button.


Step 9

When the preview starts, clock the "Preview Toolpath" button.


Step 10

With both toolpaths created, click the "Save Toolpath" icon shown here.


Step 11

First, make sure both the toolpaths have been selected.

Make sure your "Post Processor" has been selected. In this case "Mach2/3 Arcs (inch)(*.txt)"

When you are ready hit the "Save Toolpaht(s) to File" button.

You will be presented with a "Save" dialog and prompted for the name of the Gcode file.  

By default, the name of the first toolpath will be inserted into the file name field.  Feel free to change it to something a little more descriptive.

Vcarve Pro has many more options then what I have used in this example.  I wanted to keep things as simple as possible to make things easy for your first part.