Choosing the correct software


I have been investigating which software to use.
I definitely want to start with something that I can grow with. It appears clear that Fusion 360 is top notch but a learning curve, but if I am willing to put in the time I’m guessing its worth the pain? For modelling 3d parts this appears to be the best.

An for simple signs etc… I have heard people that use fusion 360 will use another program that is more simple just to make the signs. Like vcarve.

Any thoughts on which software to use in terms of scalability and ease of use.



So far… (computer not withstanding) Simple and easy has been inkscape and create an svg/dxf file then a post processor of your choice. I have used vectric aspire for the whole meal deal from picture to carving and been happy. My computer is an ancient POS tho. Doesn’t like the memory use of vectric and even less fusion. Some time soon I hope to be able to afford a better one lol


thanks. I assume you use the trial version of aspire as its expensive?
you get the full functionality in it?


Most these software have full version support for users that have hobbyist level or small business under $250k in sales. Some are $500k. Most are pretty good at support.

That being said Check out Camlabs its freeware that Chrismakes put together on this site. You may be surprised how powerful it is. Its way easier to learn and use for newer users and yet really powerful when you grow into it. Then Fusion 360 won’t be so intimidating. That is if it is at all right now.

Go to the home page and hit resources its at the bottom of the tab. You can load it there. Its Web Based but they are working on a resident version of it.


I bought an aspire package on Ebay and have full functionality. I dont have all the options that vectric pro has but very good none the less


Try Carbide Create. Free, fairly powerful, and designed to work with GRBL boards.


I’m completely new to cnc, but I’ve done some 3d printing and 3d modeling before, and I’ve been playing with various programs for a few months.

Ive landed on using onshape for 3d modeling. I would probably use fusion 360 instead, but onshape being web based allows me to use it when I have some free time at work. The two are just different enough to make it hard for me to use both. For 3d printing I’ve been using cura as a slicer, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll use for the cnc.

I wish I could use SketchUp, because I learned it first and it seems so much more intuitive to me. However, it seems sketchup files don’t play nice with other programs and you can’t use the plugins you need to make it useful without the pro version, which I don’t have.

For 2d, 2.5d and vcarving, vectric aspire absolutely blows away everything I’ve tried for simplicity and ease of use. It’s super easy to learn. They have a ton of tutorials with follow along projects. It had a bunch of clipart with it. I haven’t tried the full 3d functions yet, but the full aspire package has that too. The slicer is built in, and it seems super intuitive and easy to learn also.

It is prohibitively expensive though. And beware anyone selling it for less than retail price. You may end up with an unliscenced copy.

I’ve poked around in a bunch of other software, but they mostly feel pretty half baked in comparison. Some of them are serviceable. With time and patience, though, the free options can certainly work.


If you are looking for some software, I think this is a good listing of various free and commercial stuff hat would give you some good info. Its organized pretty well, and there is a lot there to read.

Hope this helps - I actually found some interesting things to check out myself!



Can somebody who is well verse in Fusion 360 legal issues, give me some enlightment:

I need to modify the LongMill solid for my scratch build… I’m used to SolidEdge, but my license is for academic purposes only.
Thinking about Fusion 360… I’m not selling routers, but I will be selling the items the router makes.
Fusion 360 limits hobbiest net income to $1000/year. See the *Note in the link…

Would I be able to use 360 for my router build, even though it will make >$1k later on?
Thanks for any advice


Their software is free for students and anyone under $100k not $1k. Don’t worry about it.
Your misreading it.

And you missed this part.

Qualification details

Fusion 360 is available for free personal use for individuals who are:

  • Using for personal projects outside of their primary employment.
  • Engaged in hobby businesses.*
  • Learning for personal use, outside of a company environment or commercial training.
  • Creating YouTube videos, blogs or other web content.**

Plus if you are making a $100k with your longmill Tell me the secret please? I would gladly buy every pro software package out there.


Ok, I just read the * note…

*Individuals with “hobby businesses,” generating less than $1,000 USD in annual revenue, are exempt from the non-commercial requirement, thus for the free, personal use of Fusion 360.

Ok, I’m not selling the router but will be helping a client with musical instruments.

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They will not know how much you make dont worry about it.
They also say anyone in a non commercial home business. Don’t take it too seriously.