Bought a Gen 1 with plazma quite reasonable. Question is:
What are the best software programs to piece together? Looking for programs that work well together and make the process reasonable ( not a computer nerd) Not afraid to spend the money if the systems work well and together
Bought a Gen 1 with plazma quite reasonable. Question is:
Welcome to the forum, I’m sure you’ll learn a lot here. As to your question, the answer depends on what you want to DO with the Plasma Cutter. Do you want to do artwork, signs, mechanical parts, etc.?
You will find many topics on the subject. Use the search engine and search for software related to the type of work you want to do.
Welcome to the forum. I like Mach3 and SheetCam … Mach3 cause it allows me full control, not some locked-in proprietary software. SheetCam is a very good post-processor. I design in AutocCAD 2007 and Solidworks. Most of my CNC machines in the shop runs on Mach3.
Just my view, other people’s mileage will certainly vary.
Since OP has a Gen 1 system, he must use Mach3, there is no choice in that question (unless he buys the Z Axis/THC upgrade).
Never thought I would have answers so quick! Thanks!
Please please, everyone chime in.Iam new at this
It would help if you answer the question as to WHAT you want to do with your system…
For my Gen 1 I used Inkscape & CorelDraw (CAD), Sheetcam (CAM) and Mach 3 (Machine control).
Inkscape, Corel, Affinity Designer are all options in the design space. Fusion 360 can be used as well but since it’s 3D design & manufacturing oriented it may be more complicated than needed. Also, their “free” version routinely gets updates with features being removed that they don’t think a hobbyist should use. The full price for it is in the same neighborhood as Adobe Illustrator & allied products.
My advice (the same I gave lots of students in CNC classes over the years) is to start free & simple. The exception here is that you need to pay for Mach 3 because there’s no alternative for the Gen 1 machines. The other buy-now app is Sheetcam because it will make toolpathing and everything so much easier than the free alternative (Fusion 360’s free version).
You can always dive in with AI or other fee-based design tools if you find you can’t do what you want with the free ones or they don’t “click” with you.
On the other hand if you already are an AI user (pretty common) then just start with that for your CAD solution.
I am still running my first gen 2x2 table. While I make signs here and there, I mainly design and cut parts for variety of uses, both shop needs and client projects, 18ga to 1/4".
My path is design in ViaCad 2D, send DXF to Sheetcam, load gcode in Mach3 (required for Gen 1).
Expect a steep learning curve. Each program requires a reasonable understanding of the details. You will make mistakes. The key to success with plasma is consistency, be systematic in your approach. When things work, don’t change something on a whim. Make notes so the repetition of the process become second nature.
Plenty of us here to help when stuff doesn’t work since we’ve all been there and occasionally still do.
metal bracketry and possible signage
Depending on how sophisticated you want to get with the sheet metal on this, the Fusion 360 SheetMetal functions are pretty easy to use. I have not used the Fusion CAM, but I have used Fusion for design and, once you get past the startup learning, it’s pretty useful. I had sworn off Fusion for the longest time, but @TinWhisperer 's Fusion Tutorials give you a good starting point and comfort zone. Then Product Design Online tutorials are great! I have the free Hobbyist license and it does everything I need.
For signs and artwork I use Inkscape and Affinity Designer with SheetCam as the CAM tool in all cases.
I use FreeCAD for most design work. Like Fusion, it has CAM included. But I think Fusion has better text handling for signs. I have a postprocessor for FreeCAD available for anyone who needs it.
I too recently bought a Gen1 table and new to this like you. Just wanted to add that if you have plans to add Z axis/THC, you will receive Firecontrol software with that upgrade. When I posted a similar question, some suggested that I go ahead and get the THC now to avoid “wasting” the $175 on Mach 3. I believe it will be $750 for the THC and software for you, or $575 more than what you would spend on Mach3. For me, I blew my budget getting the table so I couldn’t spend another $750 at the time. If you are not afraid to spend the $$ get the THC axis and also consider the XL kit if you don’t have it.
Good advice.With the other projects iam doing, I wont have time to set the table up until winter.This gives me time to explore software options
I need the post processor for freecad please! I cant get it to save the g-code right! I can see the g-code and see the tool moving around the part i make but its like i need that post processor to save it right! Please and thank you
The post processor that he is referring to is for Mach 3. Gen.1 tables use Mach 3, it won’t help you with Firecontrol.
Sheetcam is as easy as it gets.
Ok thank you very much! And sheetcam i can make it in freecad and then process it with sheetcam? Or can i make it in sheetcam and process it with sheetcam?
Sheetcam is mainly for creating toolpaths and post processing drawings that were made in other software. It has some limited shapes and text options, but its not intended to be design software.
don’t mean to hijack, and hopefully the OP will find this useful. How do you use Illustrator with this system? What’s the work flow look like? I’d much rather be using Illustrator than Fusion for 99% of what I do.
You can save your illustrator work as an SVG and use Sheetcam to create toolpaths and post process.
So sheetcam will turn svg and dxf files into a cuttable format that the crossfire will be able to see and use it? And thanks yes thats a good question because i like illustrater as well