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A wishlist... for CAM?

Throwing this out there to see if there’s a good solution on the market already or if I need to make up a “workaround” to get all these or if these aren’t a good idea.

  1. G-Code from vector format… that’s the basic thing that everything needs to do…
  2. Be able to place tool-in and tool-out locations – since Z is slow, I get burning at those points.
  3. Be able to place tabs…

-and the new ones-

  1. Can we mark a “waste spot” so that it goes in 2mm from the part, cuts, backs out to the “in point” and goes down to make the next pass (thinking it should be an anti-burn-stepover offset" so whenever it needs to change z, it would bounce off the part, change z, then go back and cut again – so there’d be a “burn area” at each end of a tab)?
  2. On Metal CNC, there’s usually a “roughing” and a “finishing pass” (eg, rough cuts 30 thou steps in z, then a finishing cut of 2 thou stepover at full depth) – is that useful for routing?
  3. Is there a CAM that will make a “tab cutting” pass where I can pick the order (go 2mm away, step in, cut tab, finish 2mm “away” traverse z, go to next tab, repeat, finish with the long tab at the top and the part will drop clear of the router bit)?
  4. Should the Maslow have a “tool change macro” or should that be “in the g-code” (pause, ask user for tool change, zero the tool offset, tell user to put the router back down and continue the cut)

If these are useful but not present yet, does anyone have recommendations for a “source” to hack these into? I’m not well-versed in Flash, but… I’ll try to take a bite out of anything.

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Check out HeeksCAD. It’s not free ($10), but they have a free trial. It’s just made by some guy for fun so there’s not bloat to it. I think it has a lot of the features you are looking for. Lead in / out is what you want for the waste spot.

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also check out Kiri:Moto for gcode generation. it has tabs and other features and you can run it off the Kiri:Moto web site( it runs in YOUR browser ) or you can install it on a local machine and use your browser directed to that machine( localhost.local:8080/kiri ).

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I’ve done some 3D carving (on a faster Z router) with Kiri, it works very well. Hear the 2.5D and VCarving are also very good, but haven’t tried them myself. Too many other CAM tools and projects to try it yet.

Also look at Carbide Create and Easel, popular with beginners on another router I have. Estlcam us also good, Metal Maslow sells it at a very reasonable price.

ESTLCam is tha bomb. It does quite a bit of what I want and it is pretty easy to use.
Now we’ll see if the dev can make me a “butterfly in/out” (I want to “go out” in front of the “go in” point so… I can probably cut a lot of things with no tabs!).