Recommended Software

Whether you love it or hate it, software is often part of your maker project. Perhaps you need to design your project, and need something a bit better than paper and pencil, or you need to control a CNC 3-axis milling machine.

Below is a list of Fuse33 recommended software and when to use them.

Inkscape

Uses:

  • Design your project in something better than paper, but then still build your project manually
  • Design 2D cuts for the laser/plasma/cnc-mill
  • Design etching for the laser/cnc-mill
  • Design and generate files for an embroidery machine

Common File Formats:

In: svg, dxf

Out: svg, dxf

### Pros:

  • It’s free
  • It’s popular, so lots of good information on the internet
  • Fairly simple to use for doing simple designs

Cons:

  • Adobe Illustrator seems to be more popular than Inkscape with Fuse33 member, so it can be hard to find someone to help with a problem.
  • Doing dimensional drawings can be tedious
  • Limited to 2D design.

Links:

https://inkscape.org/

Adobe Illustrator

Uses:

  • Design your project in something better than paper, but then still build your project manually
  • Design 2D cuts for the laser/plasma/cnc-mill
  • Design etching for the laser/cnc-mill

Common File Formats:

In: ai, svg, dxf

Out: svg, dxf

Pros:

  • It’s popular, so lots of good information on the internet
  • Popular with Fuse33 member, so easy to find help
  • Fairly simple to use for doing simple designs

Cons:

  • It cost money
  • Doing dimensional drawings can be tedious
  • Limited to 2D design.

Links:

https://www.adobe.com/ca/products/illustrator.html

Fusion 360

Uses:

  • Design your projects in 2D and 3D
  • Create appropriate files for manufacturing your project using laser/plasma/cnc-mill/3D printer
  • Create blueprints

Common File Formats:

In: f3d, dxf, stl, obj

Out: f3d, stl, obj, nc, gcode, dxf, pdf

Pros:

  • Its free (hobby version – some minor limitations)
  • It’s popular, so lots of good information on the internet
  • The most popular CAD/CAM software at Fuse33 (but still not many members know it)
  • Fairly simple to use for doing simple designs
  • Good for 2D designs due to the use of dimensions
  • Can handle almost all of your CAD needs!!!

Cons:

  • Limited capability for drawing etching images (though can be imported from other programs)
  • Can be intimidating if you aren’t familiar with CAD software

Links:

https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview

RDWorksV8

Uses:

  • Connecting your computer to the Bodor Laser (big laser cutter)
  • Design your cuts in other software (Illustrator, Inkscape, Fusion 360), and import the AI or DXF file into RDWorksV8.

Common File Formats:

In: rdl, ai, dxf

Out: rdl

Pros:

  • Its free
  • This is the only software that works with the Bodor Laser

Cons:

  • Some version don’t consistently connect to the laser over WIFI
  • Older files aren’t compatible with newer versions of the software.

Links:

https://www.thunderlaser.com/laser-download

OpenBuildController

Uses:

  • Connecting your computer to the Scienci CNC Mill (little cnc mill)
  • Design your cuts in other software (Fusion 360), generate g-code, and import g-code into OpenBuildController.
  • Support GRBL, a popular CNC controlling standard

Common File Formats:

In: nc, gcode

Out: <no file output>

Pros:

  • Its free
  • Good graphical interface
  • Easy to learn
  • Provides an online g-code generator in order to make g-code from dxf/svg files.

Cons:

  • Can get glitchy after long cuts

Links:

https://software.openbuilds.com/

Retina Engrave

Uses:

  • Connecting your computer to the Full Spectrum Laser (little laser cutter)
  • Design your cuts in other software (Illustrator, Inkscape, Fusion 360), and “Print” your files to Retina Engrave.

Common File Formats:

In: <no file input (used as a print destination)>

Out: <no file output>

Pros:

  • Its free
  • This is the only software that works with the Full Spectrum Laser

Cons:

  • Due to network issues, you must use the Retina Engrave software on the Fuse33 computer connected directly to the laser cutter. (ie: cant use your own computer)

Links:

https://laser101.fslaser.com/RetinaEngrave

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