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CAD/CAM Software


I am looking for a user friendly software to run with CNC Mill. I
have used Cimagrafi in the past, which has been a very difficult
program to master. Are there any user that can lead me in a
direction that might help.

I will be using the software to mass produce molds for commercial
grade merchandise.

Any would be great.

Thank you in advance!


I’m using Rhino3D for modeling, and then my CNC guy uses Visual Mill
to run his machine. He let me watch over his shoulder the other day,
and it looked really easy to use. Basically all he did was load up a
file I’d done in Rhino and set a couple of handfuls of settings for
the machine. Visual Mill seems pricey to me, at $4000 for the full
version, or $1000 for the “basic” version. Check it out at

I’m very happy with Rhino3D for modeling. I find it intuitive and
fast. It retails for $895 from, but there are places
that sell it for under $600. Or you can get it bundled with Visual
Mill for $500.

DMGreer, LLC


Easy! Rhino for CAD, VisualMill for CAM

Rhino -
VisualMill -

Jeffrey Everett


Speaking of Visual Mill, I am a Visual Mill dealer and offer it at a
major discount off list price. If you tell me you are an Orchid list
member I will even give you an extra discount. I can only sell to
USA customers, but if you are in USA and are interested in Visual
Mill I can offer you a price that can not be beat on the Visual Mill
5.0 Basic and Basic Plus (4 axis) version. For jewelry purposes you
do not need the full version as that is targeted more towards the
high end mold making market. Contact me off list if you want any more
info on this product. I can also provide a bundle with Visual Mill
and Rhino as well as Sherline and Taig mills for anyone just tooling
up for CNC.

A2Z Metalsmith Supply Inc
5151 S Federal Blvd Unit I-9
Littleton CO 80123
720 283-7200


The 5.0 Basic version of VisualMill actually does quite a lot for a
program in its price range (parallel and horizontal roughing and
finishing for 3d parts; user-definable machining regions; pocketing,
profiling, facing, V-carving and engraving, hole drilling, boring and
tapping; animated toolpath simulation, etc), but if that’s too
expensive for you, Mecsoft gives away an even more basic version
(Freemill) - no charge to download it from It will
import 3d STL files and output G-code programs a 3-axis CNC machine
can run. It lacks many of the 5.0 Basic version’s features, but it’s
pretty easy to use and is just as good as some other programs which
cost hundreds of dollars.

If you want to use a 4th axis, good for carving rings and things in
the round, you can purchase the VisualMill 4th axis module separately
for an additional $700. Or you can get DeskProto, another program
that imports 3d models and outputs G-code to control a CNC milling
machine. You can download a fully functional copy of the program from and run it for 30 days, trying the G-code it
writes, before deciding if you want to buy it. If you do, it’s $1300,
or $250 for the “light” version that lacks the 4th axis support, the
"2-side wizard" and a few other features of the main product. While
DeskProto at this point only recognizes mesh surfaces and won’t deal
with linear input, this will change in the upcoming 4.0 version.
(People who buy it now will get a free upgrade to 4.0 when it’s

    I'm very happy with Rhino3D for modeling. I find it intuitive
and fast. 

You’re not alone there. Rhino 3d is fast because it uses networks of
mathematically defined splines to construct surfaces, instead of
stacking thousands of polygons (usually triangles) edge to edge, as
do most other 3d modeling programs. This makes it possible to
manipulate complex compound-curved surfaces without the tremendous
memory load that dealing with all those polygons entails, and which
bogs down even very powerful computers. At the same time, Rhino’s
surfaces are more accurate, retaining smooth curves even if you zoom
in very close instead of resolving into flat facets. Once you’ve made
your model, you can export it in one of the polygon formats (like STL
or DXF 3d faces) that most CAM programs like VisualMill or DeskProto
accept. It’s intuitive because it was developed in an open forum a
lot like this one, where numerous users with very diverse intentions
and backgrounds were encouraged to give feedback to the developers,
who actually listened to what they had to say, and changed things
accordingly until they had something that worked straight-forwardly
to a majority of the people trying it.

It retails for $895 from, but there are places that
sell it for under $600. Or you can get it bundled with Visual Mill
for $500.

DMGreer, LLC

“Places” , right - but let’s not name any names here…

Andrew Werby
3d Hardware and Software


Hi Mary, I use Autodesk Inventor for build my cad, but it doesn’t
have the cam capability. it’s expensive but save a lot of money in
the long run when you have to use it a lot. check out at I recommend obtain a trial cd of
the software to see it for yourself. the next thing is Solidworks and
Rhino. For mold I would recommend using Solidworks because they have
a nice mold maker plugin. Regards Brian


I’d like to preface my comments by saying I’m a representative for
Model Master, developers of ArtCAM JewelSmith.

Since Rhino was the first software program I learned, my proficiency
tends to be stronger in it for certain types of designs. With Rhino
and a certain level of skill, just about any design imaginable can be
accomplished. When I began working in ArtCAM Jewelsmith, I found
that many models that were complex and time consuming in Rhino, could
be done amazingly fast in A.C. Jewelsmith. It brought hours of work
down to several minutes in some instances.

For ease of use, A.C. Jewelsmith also does some things that just
aren’t feasible in conventional CAD programs, such as detailed,
ornate texturing, Celtic patterns and efficient, naturalistic
creation of organic shapes. It can edit a Rhino file, merge relief
components, as well as import and combine STL’s from other programs.
If one is going to seriously get into CAD, then eventually a CAM
solution becomes neccessary for milling waxes. Rather relying on a
generic CAM program, ArtCAM has a jewelry-specific CAM module that
does feature engraving and tool pathing strategies for lettering and
inlay work. It mends the gap between CAD and CAM as a self-contained
CAD/CAM program. It also exports an STL file for rapid prototyping
or imports a 3D file from a laser scanner.

This is really starting to sound like an “infommercial”, so I’ll
just close by saying I personally like using the combination of Rhino
and ArtCAM. It really depends on the type of jewelry you’re making.
Every CAD/CAM software has it’s strengths as well as it’s
limitations. Individual comfort level with a particular program also
has a lot to do with the program’s tool set, intrinsic modeling
strategy and interface.

Handcrafted Originality
CAD/CAM Technology