"One Perfect Part at a Time"

3D

A View on CAD, CAM, CNC Software Upgrades

The Vectric (software) company has just released version 3 of their Aspire CNC software. Nothing too earth shattering as far as major changes that I can see, but some very nice-to-have upgrades in performance and design ease. The update from version 2 is $400.00 USD. Hmmm… a lot?

A new outright full edition Aspire purchase is $1995.00 USD. It is Vectric’s highest priced do-it-all CNC package. So the $400 update cost doesn’t sound too bad. I also got to thinking that a single skilled programmer writing updates and improvements just for me would probably bill out at over $100 per hour and actually earn maybe $40 per hour ($80,000/yr) That is certainly very naïve thinking but don’t kill the message here. So at best $400 buys 10 hours of program changes, or only 4 hours at retail.

So is the upgrade worth it? You bet. I haven’t made the move but it will be coming.

At first look, Aspire and the other CNC packages offered by Vectric seem to be highly centered on CNC overhead routers and to a smaller extent, CNC mills. Many if not most of the projects shown on the web site as examples are executed in wood. That is far from the many real abilities of the software. Aspire is designed to take a block of any sort of machinable material and turn it into a 2D or 3D item of beauty or value. Wrapped 4th axis machining designs can also be executed.

I don’t think Aspire or Cut3D (another Vectric 3D package) can totally replace the function of my Rhinoceros Modeling and design tool which is used to design highly detailed fully multi sided objects such as full size cars, boats, motorcycles and even buildings. Rhino can also be used to design jewelry… Continue reading

CNC Gun Part

A local person here in Frisco asked if I could duplicate this part (the black one). I don’t usually like to take on outside projects as I have enough of my own. This part looked interesting. It is part of a tripod bracket for an expensive, but what the owner called a “toy” gun. Actually is is a very sophisticated collector item.

As can be seen in the photo the bracket had the tab broken off. It is a very nice injection molded aluminum casting but the crystallization left it vulnerable to breaking where it did.

I was going to make a duplicate by manual milling. That’s the rotary table setup in an earlier post. I changed my mind and decided to do it with CNC milling.

I had to first very carefully measure the part in every detail then make a 3D drawing in Rhinoceros (Rhino) You can see the screen capture and a couple of output pictures.

I converted the drawing to two G-Code files with RhinoCAD, one for top and one for bottom.

I did a test run in oak then made the one in aluminum. I used my Taig CNC mill running mist cooling. Overall size of the part is rather small, about 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 3/8″

I’m not setup for doing anodizing and I have never done any. I have studied the process and it can be done in the home shop. The new part really needs to be anodized like the original, but that is not my “thing” right now. That’s all I need is another skill to master. 🙂

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