3D CNC CAD guidance for beginners

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Tony Shannon

Nov 12, 2021, 8:38:18 AMNov 12
to rLab / Reading's Hackspace
Hello Folks,

A work colleague and I have been discussing 3D manufacture, as he is looking to upgrade to a larger woodworking CNC.

We were both looking to get better acquainted with 3D modelling, so I wanted to pick the brains of folks here as a starting point.

Firstly, would folks recommend learning Fusion 360 (free) remains the best route, or due to feature removals, should we be looking at alternatives (Blender / FreeCAD / other) to avoid having to switch at a later date? I recall some conversations with Steve R on this topic, but my grey cells are failing to recall the details.

Secondly - are there any folks with the experience / interest to run an intro to 3D modelling workshop in the future (2022) to help people get started / familiarised?  Is this something that could expand upon the existing material used for the CNC Induction at R-LAB? 

Not volunteering anyone for extra work here, genuinely asking if there is any value in the idea, and if anyone who could be approached, to discuss the idea with.

Thirdly - Are there known resources we can pull on outside of R-LAB that I'm unaware of, e.g. are there any other spaces nearby that we have contact in who might already run similar workshops, so we're not reinventing the wheel if there is a community resource available to help?

Appreciate this is an unusual request, as it's more about access to information / informal training, rather than direct creation / induction on R-LABs tooling, but figured if anyone had suggestions, this was the place to ask!

Cheers folks,
Tony Shannon

Adam Cave - Ayland

Nov 12, 2021, 2:43:00 PMNov 12
to rLab / Reading's Hackspace
Hi Tony,

Is this going to be focused towards the new router? Or are you hoping to just build the skillset?
I'm not super up to speed with Fusion 360, but I have a day to day CAD job which would transfer for the general tools if not the specific ones if you wanted some pointers?

Adam C-A

Stephen Rodway

Nov 13, 2021, 5:15:38 PMNov 13
to reading-...@googlegroups.com
Hi Tony,
I can't advise too much on the actual 3D modeling tasks as I normally
use OpenSCAD for that, but I can provide some input on the CNC/Toolpath

Fusion360 works, has an excellent range of toolpaths available, we have
a expert users at rLab who can help and there's a well established route
to use it with many types of machine. The downside is that the
restrictions placed on the free version are really quite burdensome for
CNC work. For design work it's fine, but as soon as you switch to
manufacturing the limitations start to bite.

The big one is the lack of rapids (G0 commands aren't available), that
can easily more than double the machining time for jobs, sometimes
increasing it 3 or 4 fold. We have a work-around for that at the moment
for the Boxford, but it's hard to use properly and Autodesk could break
it at any time with an update (and likely will since they won't approve
of workarounds to intentional limits)
There's also limits that prevent 4th/5th axis use and mean that
automatic tool changes aren't allowed, although those are less of an
issue for hobbyist level machines.

FreeCAD I've not extensively used yet but I've been advised that the
next major release contains some very big improvements that will make it
a lot more usable as a CNC control system and will provide most(all?) of
the feature that Fusion-360 current disallows. Might be worth waiting
for that update to arrive before going too far down this path. If this
is a route that you'd be interested in doing then it's also something I
want to explore so we could work together on that.

Blender I have no idea about suitability, OpenSCAD is not suitable for
CNC use.

The CNC induction materials already written likely won't help you too
much with the 3D design process as they don't really cover that. A basic
level of ability with fusion360 is assumed before the induction starts
and the induction is focused on how to go from an existing design to

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