DeskProto for 4th Axis
Using 4 axis milling, requires a CAM software system to create the necessary CNC G-code. It’s not something one can easily hand code when doing 3D designs. Simple level surfacing could be hand-coded on a 4thaxis, but probably lathe turning would be far easier.
Aspire, a three-dimensional CAD/CAM produced by Vectric can produce G-code for the 4thaxis. It is one of my go-to programs. However, I don’t design everything in Aspire CAD. Fusion 360 and RhinoCAD are also programs I use for design.
Both these programs have 4 axis CAM built in. Fusion 360 has a built in CAM, and with Rhino5 I have a plugin RhinoCAM 2012 w/4axis. In Fusion the 4thaxis CAM is 2.5D and cannot produce 3-dimensional 4thaxis G-code. I added 4thaxis 3D CAM to RhinoCAM 2012 but find it extremely difficult to produce quality cut pathing. It seems to contain some very strange algorithms producing highly fragmented pathing.
This has led me to another 3rdparty CAM software (from the Netherlands) called DeskProto. It can take input (in the proper format) from any CAD software. (I won’t be getting into describing the process here.)
DeskProto’s claim is that it is CAM software for creative people and not the die-hard machinist. I find agreement to that statement. I find details missing with some lack of particular seldom-needed features perhaps needed by a high powered VMC machinist. For the rest of us common users, making things (on up to 5 axis milling systems), DeskProto gets the job done without micro-managing every single minor detail.
Having made that (limiting) statement, there remains plenty of useful variables that will insure getting the results a user like myself desires.
I will admit I put off choosing this program, as I had access to the “professional” CAM in my existing CAD programs (described above). I discovered I didn’t need all the hard-to-use and “understand” details of those programs. Pride goes before failure. I failed in easily getting what I wanted from the other systems.
I downloaded and installed the unlimited use DeskProto trial software. I had full access to creating 4thaxis output. It does imprint a large “X” (trial copy) in the output file and is seen on the visual display. But I was able to produce some very clean and sensible G-code pathing.
Since I am a hobbyist user, I decided DeskProto was an excellent value CAM addition for my 4 axis needs. It is an improvement of what I get from Aspire on 4 axis output. I paid for the highest-level version of DeskProto and (of course) the registration removed the trial edition “X” without re-installing the software.
Now that I have a full non-obfuscated version of DeskProto installed, I will run some real projects.
My first task is to machine a suitable mandrel to hold the wax I intend to 4thaxis machine. The picture is a 3D printed example of the mandrel I will make with 12L14 carbon steel. I will be posting 4thaxis cut wax examples sometime soon…