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  #11  
Old 05-29-2018, 10:34 PM
Rlee1972 Rlee1972 is offline
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Originally Posted by Ger21 View Post

You can export your Fusion models any time you want, in a variety of formats. They aren't holding your data hostage.
And it's already a subscription based program. They just have a no charge subscription for hobbyists.
I stand corrected!
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  #12  
Old 05-30-2018, 01:23 PM
BradyWatson BradyWatson is offline
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I thought I'd chime in on this one because I have many Camaster owners who use my services to produce string instruments of all kinds.

Intent is everything when choosing CAD/CAM software. Most of my customers use Vectric VCP or Aspire (some use Cut3D too) to setup and machine their instrument bodies and necks. The 'big idea' here is the path of least resistance when it comes to getting down to the business of actually making instruments and in turn, making real money as quickly as possible.

Is your intention to create instrument parts from absolute scratch, or are you looking to modify something existing? Are you just looking to do a 3D copy machine of sorts where you get your existing designs into the computer and the CNC cuts them out? What do you really need to do, exactly?

I've helped a lot of instrument makers over the years, so I'll share a little. Customers send me their bodies and necks to be scanned. At the very least, they get an STL mesh (full 3D all the way around) that they can bring into any CAD or CAM package and modify or create toolpaths. They can choose for us to make modifications for them (change neck angle, transitions, digitize, modify and fill in feature holes like pickup pockets etc) and they can even get a video showing them how to bring in the part, create toolpath boundaries and a set of sample toolpaths. It's all a la carte. Again, the idea here is to get the parts 'into the computer' and set up to make money straight away with the least amount of time, learning curve and overall pain.

For the scenario described above, the Vectric products are fine & offer everything you need for 2D and 3D work on these types of parts. Now if you told me that you don't have a physical example in hand to digitize, that is a completely different situation with many challenges in the act of going from idea to machined part(s). Most guitar components can be machined from 1,2 or 3 sides by simply rotating the part in VCP or Aspire and generating new toolpaths for each side. BUT...you need model each side from scratch & that can present some challenges in software that only really does 2.5D - that is to say, you can't really model transitions between the beltline/equator of the front side to the back. Usually this isn't an issue due to the limitations of 3-axis CNC, but for human brain/visualization it isn't good.

Aspire (and now defunct ArtCAM) both excel at 3D relief creation where you have organic free-form shapes difficult to create using solids or basic platonic shapes. Quite often parts of a guitar have a combination of both platonic shapes (planes, cones, spheres or sections thereof) plus, organic shapes depending on how fancy the body and neck are - particularly at transitions like the neck/headstock/nut. These areas can be VERY difficult to get right using an engineering type software package. You really need to be able to work with both kinds of shapes and Aspire is pretty good at most of these things, but there are times where you need to create something in 'full 3d'.

Most software out there approaches creating 3D parts in a similar way, with the exception of Aspire/ArtCAM when it comes to sculpting etc. All will let you take a cross-section and sweep it along one or two rails to make a shape. All will let you loft a closed vector shape to add thickness or spin a shape to generate a 3D turning of sorts. Some are easier than others. I can't speak to 360 because I don't agree with ADesk's business practices, but one really good piece of software is Rhino3D. You can for instance export vectors you have from Aspire (or just draw from scratch in Rhino) and generate your instrument body or neck using the 3D creation tools. This would give you the ability to model parts in full 3D with detail on all sides if you were going for that.

The data created in these full 3d programs can be exported as say an STL mesh and then imported into whatever CAM program you were using, whether it be VCP, Aspire or something else. You can even use RhinoCAM which is VisualMill made for Rhino. These full 3d CAD packages CAN do relief work similar to what can be done in Aspire, but it takes a LOT of talent and a very high proficiency in the program to be able to pull it off. There are jewelers doing amazing work in these types of programs, but unless you are really good in another software package already, the learning curve can be insurmountable during this lifetime. This is where the easy to learn Aspire would come into play if organic work is what you need to do. I've used Rhino for years & consider it the Swiss Army Knife of CAD since it can open/import/export a variety of file formats and even create 3D parts that are difficult or impossible to do in something like Aspire etc.

So again - it all boils down to INTENT - It pays to be honest with yourself. We ALL want to be able to work in the software fluently and make our dreams come true...but the reality is, very few are willing to manage their day to day existence in order to achieve that level of proficiency. What does that look like? No different than being a professional athlete...You need to practice every single day for at least an hour or two with no days off....for years in many cases. Only then can you create what you want with confidence at the moment of inspiration without getting stopped or stuck. So you have to ask yourself these questions before you just jump right on ANY software bandwagon thinking you can just buy your way into talent...and of course, that's not an option.

My recommendation would be to find a path/solution where you will be successful in producing parts as soon as possible. Once that machine is running and paying for itself with good parts, you can let out a sigh of relief and begin to tinker with software & learn what you need to without the stress of an idle machine. Go for the easiest software to learn with the most support - after you are successful with that, then move on to other things like 360. There are less CNC router pros using 360 than the Vectric stuff at this moment in time. I'd lean in that direction at least for the time being.

-B
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  #13  
Old 05-30-2018, 01:27 PM
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Some years ago i went to all outsourcing, scans, files, Etc. as a commercial end user and while i can use aspire enough to be dangerous, I am here to make a living not be an expert at everything, I was spending valuable and costly time on learning curve which turned out that Outsourcing to a pro was pennies on the Dollar when compared to my personal cost and allocation of time.
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  #14  
Old 05-30-2018, 05:24 PM
browndawg browndawg is offline
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Thank you, James and Brady!
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  #15  
Old 05-30-2018, 06:03 PM
Todd W Todd W is offline
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Interesting opinions, and I think everyone sort of agrees. Like BrownDawg, my goal is stringed instruments. I'm planning to use my machine for electric guitar bodies and necks, and acoustic guitar parts and necks.

I ordered it with VCarve Pro because I thought it would be a good easy start for mostly flat parts. But I'm not on the clock. I'll be taking a class on CAD/CAM at a local tech college this fall, and after I get used to VCarve, I plan to learn to use Fusion 360 for anything other than flat parts.

When I researched software, VCarve seemed ideal for cutting boards for presents, or for sign inlay work. Fusion 360 seemed much better for almost everything else I want to do. Especially since I won't be building standard sized instruments, and don't want to try and shrink or enlarge bit mapped items. One of my projects will be turning some paper Adirondack chair plans into a CNC project, and while I thought VCarve might be the better choice, I now sort of wonder. If I want to be able to shrink or enlarge the plans for kids or plus sized friends, I don't know if VCarve can do it. I am pretty sure a vector based one like Fusion could do that easily.

All the advice above seems to fit with my choices, but mostly because I am NOT planning to try and make money with my machine. It's just a really cool toy that I've wanted for about 15 years, and its something for my son to learn CAD and CAM on. I hope to be semi proficient with Fusion after 18 months to 2 years, so if I can't design a guitar neck for 2 years, it won't bother me at all. Guessing it won't take that long though!

Thanks for starting this thread Browndawg.

Last edited by Todd W; 05-30-2018 at 06:05 PM.
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  #16  
Old 05-30-2018, 06:54 PM
Jim_in_PA Jim_in_PA is offline
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Todd, I think there are a lot of folks who use Fusion360 for electric guitar work based anecdotally on the many videos I've watched in the last 6 months. (For some reason, I had a strong gravitation to guitar building videos for entertainment, despite being more of a keyboard guy) I did see a few that used Rhino, but there was an essential equivalency with the design work involved with modeling the bodies and necks. VCarve is just fine for "flat" bodies, such as the so-called T- and S-type and similar. You can still use it for 2.5D/3D if you have an importable model, but I suspect you're going to want to develop your own models and for that, your plan sounds like one on the right track.
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  #17  
Old 05-30-2018, 09:46 PM
Ger21 Ger21 is offline
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Quote:
and after I get used to VCarve, I plan to learn to use Fusion 360 for anything other than flat parts.

You may find that flat parts are the majority of what you'll be doing.


Imo, if Fusion 360 weren't free, it wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as it is.
Most experienced CNC users will tell you that simple 2D drawings converted to g-code is much faster, and will often give better results, than creating 3D models.


The latest version of V-Carve (and Aspire) is now much more "CAD like" than earlier versions, which makes it even faster to do a quick drawing and export your g-code.



Quote:
If I want to be able to shrink or enlarge the plans for kids or plus sized friends, I don't know if VCarve can do it. I am pretty sure a vector based one like Fusion could do that easily.

V-Carve Pro IS vector based, and can easily shrink or enlarge your projects. But, if your project has rabbets and dados, or tabs that fit together, scaling your project will result in parts that don't fit.
This would be the case in Fusion 360 as well, unless you carefully create a parametric model designed to be scalable.
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  #18  
Old 05-30-2018, 11:24 PM
Rlee1972 Rlee1972 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james mcgrew View Post
Outsourcing to a pro was pennies on the Dollar when compared to my personal cost and allocation of time.

While the student here speaking to the teacher..... I could not agree more. I want to grow in understanding as time goes but send me a file I can learn to tweak and as close to run ready as possible. Michael Mezalick has been awesome to deal with for us in regards to this and I would encourage even the hobbyists to take advantage of the talent we have around us!!
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2018 Cobra Elite 5 x 10
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20 Tool Holder
25HP Regen Vac

2017 Panther 408
HSD 5HP ATC
6 Tool Rotary Carousel
Recoil Lathe
Laser
Aspire 9.0
PhotoVcarve



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Be kind.
Be grateful.
Life is too short and prone to quickly change to live otherwise.
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  #19  
Old 05-31-2018, 12:16 AM
Todd W Todd W is offline
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You may be right, Gerry, but it is free.
Good to know I can scale the Adirondack chair parts in VCarve pro. I thought someone said it was pixel based.
Thanks

Jim,
I'll probably do a strat/tele hybrid with a bolt on neck and body contouring. 22-23" scale, 7/8 body size.
I don't see any reason to build more full sized electrics. I have too many already and it's easy to buy great ones.
I'll do the same thing for acoustics, but maybe up to a 24" scale. Wish I could to a 7/8 sized piano too :)

Last edited by Todd W; 05-31-2018 at 12:28 AM.
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  #20  
Old 05-31-2018, 12:29 AM
BradyWatson BradyWatson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ger21 View Post
Imo, if Fusion 360 weren't free, it wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as it is.
Ding ding ding! Give the man a prize!

At some point the gravy train will end & it won't be free anymore. Then you'll be paying the monthly nut for being allowed to use their software.

Todd - I think you misunderstand the difference between voxels, pixels and vectors. Aside from bitmaps/jpegs, all work in the Vectric programs are vector-based and in mathematical proportion such that when they are scaled up or down, they don't lose detail. There are countless guitar manufacturers and individuals making string instruments with Aspire and even VCP. A quick search on either forum will show many examples of the work produced.

Try demos of EVERYTHING. Give everything a fair shake - YOU are the only one that stands to get short changed. When you don't know anything about XYZ you owe it to yourself to play the proverbial field and see what makes the most sense for your type of work and your way of thinking. Don't go picking a wife because she's a cheap date.

-B
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