Sudhir Gill

Which is the best free software for generating CNC part program?

Question by Sudhir Gill

for learning purpose.

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33 Answers

Per Bj. Bro
Answered on 10 Apr, 2013 06:46 PM

The question is a bit vague. Remember that you will need to generate a model in a CAD program (if you are working in 3D), then transform the model to G-Code using a CAM program, then use the G-Code to operate your CNC mill or lathe. For generating your 3D model, I recommend FreeCAD as an open source product. If you want to pay, you can use Inventor, or SolidWorks or many of the other commercial programs.

The next step is your CAM program. Unfortunately this step is the weakest in open source programs. You can try PyCAM to generate your tool path if you need a free product. MasterCAM is just too expensive; SprutCAM is a good program and costs just USD1500, but only runs under Windows.

The third step is you machine interface. Mach3 is very good; it costs USD150 and is widely used / pirated. EMC2 is great, it's free and runs under Linux.

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Michael Mezalick
Answered on 31 May, 2013 09:03 AM

If you're going to purchase a program , try Aspire from Vectric.
It's a CAD / CAM program ,,all in one.
The trial version is here.

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Answered on 21 Aug, 2014 08:02 PM

1) For "lowcost" CAD SpaceClaim ( or IronCAD ( not Inventor, SolidWork and company,
2) For Artistic CAM Vectric Aspire ( not ArtCam and company
2.1) For Technical CAD CAM TopSolid (or TopSolid Wood; or ZW3D ( not MasterCam and company
3) For free take LinuxCNC ( never Mach3.
This list will spare you so many headaches, trust me.
For more info:

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suresh jambhulkar
Answered on 12 Apr, 2016 07:38 AM

Nothing comes as free. If you want to do business go for valid software with reasonable solutions.

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Answered on 11 Nov, 2013 10:19 AM

Minha resposta será na língua portuguesa:

1- Se você está querendo um software open source, recomendo: LinuxCNC e FreeCad ou BRL-CAD
2- Para software pago, existem muitos, posso falar do CREO (ProE) e WorkNC que são os que eu trabalho... mas, não é a melhor opção. Na minha opinião a melhor opção é aquela que você domina.
espero ter ajudado.

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Answered on 21 Feb, 2015 01:36 PM

You can complete a part start to finish (3D model, generate tool paths and export Gcode) with Autodesk fusion 360, which comes with integrated HSMworks cam, 2.5 D is $300 /yr commercial and free for hobbyists. up to 5 axis machining is available for $1200/yr.
I have actually left my more expensive solutions for this one. I believe this will be the new standard for those just getting started as you will not outgrow it anytime soon and the price is literally unbeatable .

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Answered on 17 Jan, 2017 10:14 PM

As for me there are only two options:
1) Paid - ArtCam -
2) Free - Dxf2Gcode -
For both of them I advise you to use free dxf files library -

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Nicolas Garneau
Answered on 2 Mar, 2012 03:45 AM

I just found out HSMXpress. It's free and integrated in SolidWorks as long as you have a legal version.
I downloaded and tested the software without generating any code because the post-processor for my CNC does not exist.

The software is verry well integrated in SW and I could program simple 2,5D parts in just minutes.

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Answered on 31 Jul, 2015 01:32 PM

I like CATIA because it can do 3D graphic and CNC gcode + machine simulation all in one software. :-)

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Alex Black
Answered on 25 Aug, 2017 08:50 AM

I am not sure what do you mean by “best”. However you may have a look at Replicantis for iPad. It has some good price/features ratio. Generates G-Code and has some neat augmented reality preview - you can simulate and view your parts in augmented reality.
Also I can add this article

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Nicolas Garneau
Answered on 5 Jan, 2012 01:04 PM

I use MasterCam everyday, it's versatile and powerful. I would recommand it without any doubt. I know delcam also make good product like powermill and featurecam, collegues had used these software and were pleased. The limitation of Mastercam is that it's not parametric, if you make a change to your model you have to reimport it insede mastercam and reasign the operations to the geometry. If possible try to go with something integrated inside your CAD software like mastercam for solidworks or delcam for solidworks. NX has a built-in cnc porgramming software wich is very powerful I used it at school

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David Winslow
Answered on 6 Mar, 2012 01:14 AM

MasterCAM is very expensive and rather buggy. None of the software mentioned in this thread so far is completely free. There aren't very many free options.

I will not make a recommendation based on the performance of the software as I have not examined the items on the following list. But these softwares are free or open source.

MecSoft FreeMILL
GNU Computer Aided Manufacturing (sources are on GitHub)

As Nicolas mentioned before HSMXpress is free for users of SolidWorks who hold a valid license and, honestly, it is the most viable option. The world of free Manufacturing software is an ugly place and considering how the commercial software normally is, it is safer to invest in a well-recommend inexpensive entry-level CAM solution.

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Bob Miceli
Answered on 27 Nov, 2013 03:33 AM

Bob Miceli here from MSC machinery I have been using BOBCAD-CAM. Its very reasonable in price and does a very good job! Their toolpath algorithm is sometimes a little wacky but other than that its fairly easy to pick up. Plus you get to try it free for a month. We are currently selling it at MSC for just under $1k

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Answered on 28 Apr, 2014 09:01 PM

free 3d modeling software sketchup,blender.low cost 3d modeling software
design cad 3d,alibre is a good software ,linuxcnc is free download. I use it to run my sherline 3 axis cnc mill ,linuxcnc is easy to install and use also mach 3 is good for about 200, I use solidedge which i have been using fo about 10 years but it is not cheap,you could try taking some classes in 3d modeling as a student you could get 3d modeling softwaer a great discount

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Andrew Gamlen
Answered on 30 May, 2014 04:06 AM

I have been using linuxcnc(EMC2) to control my small mill for a number of years. I like to use heekscad/cam to generate g-code for cutting.

He seems to have a non beta commericial version for windows available now but I haven't tried it.

I really like the way you can freehand straight paths but mix in curves(arcs) just by holding down the a key while drawing. If I am making something fairly simple I don't draw a model I just draw the cutting paths to save a bit of time.

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André  Moraes
Answered on 21 Jun, 2014 11:58 AM

Trabalho com o software CIMATRON E11. e consigo só ele fazer meus modelos 3D , montagem ,detalhamento e usinagem .
E se tiver alguma alteração no produto no modelo ele atualiza todo o resto pra mim .
Sem ter que re importar novamente .
Mas isso vai do gosto de cada um .
Pois todos fazem a mesma coisa só que de um jeito diferente com outros comandos .

Working with CIMATRON E11 software. and he can only do my 3D models, assembly, machining and detailing.
  And if you have any change in the product model it updates all the rest to me.
  Without having to re import again.
  But it will taste of each.
  For all do the same thing just in a different way with other commands.

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Carl White
Answered on 29 Jul, 2014 07:27 PM

Free 2.5 axis for both Solidworks or Inventor can be found here. You can also try the cloud based version as well.


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nilesh rajput
Answered on 30 Apr, 2015 04:22 PM

cnc (vmc) programming with unigraphics is very easy.

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Answered on 21 Jun, 2015 02:42 PM

I also use Mastercam a lot but a novice needs a program with an intuitive interface that he can learn by his own.
Imho HSM is one of the best options but is not a standalone program, it is integrated in Inventor or in SW.
The most convenient CAD CAM in terms of money is ZW3D 2015 Lite (only 2.5 ops.), it has very nice CAD interface and a potent CAM for "less than 1000$" The doc. is good.
In the other hand we have Vectric Aspire for the woodworking art 1500$ with a lot of tutorials around the web, for cabinets try Cabinet Vision
If you use a Router you should have a Router version of CAM with Nesting, Engraving, Inlay, Raster to Vector, DXF Batch Import, joint fillets, doors and hinges macro and others common woodworking operations.
And remember if you want play CAD CAM and you are not a pirate you must spend some money because unfortunately, the free software is not very productive. Forget the 2d design and immediately begin to draw and calculate the toolpath in 3d.

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Shane Schuller
Answered on 24 Jun, 2015 04:15 PM

I am aware it's an old post, however you should look at SheetCam. Good product for a small fee and! service is great.

Also just as a note
Look at Gcode alternatives,
Shopbot control software.

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Mourad Mouelhi
Answered on 7 Nov, 2015 08:51 AM

I am aware itis an old post but I want to share my opinion with you guys! For SolidWorks I use MasterCam everyday too , very powerful. I would recommand it without any doubt.otherwise CATIA will do everything for you 3D graphic and CNC gcode and machine simulation!

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Answered on 18 Nov, 2015 08:11 PM

I use autodesk inventor HSM . As any other autodesk tool, it's time consuming to learn all the options, as it has many of them. But the flexibility is rewarding and the tools to simulate /debug toolpath are very flexible.

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Bill Lawrence
Answered on 28 Dec, 2015 03:58 AM

Cambam is a great option for 2D - 2.5D solution.

They have a great trial period
it works well with most CNC

Good Support

and best of all, its not terribly expensive.

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ganesh m
Answered on 15 Jun, 2016 06:39 AM

I think CNC simulator or cimco edit best software

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Answered on 6 Jan, 2017 09:04 AM

When it comes to PCB, I elected to flatcam. I am not using a free software generating my G-code outside of PCB making.

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Answered on 19 Jan, 2017 07:28 AM

Recently, I came across a CAM software: Oncreate3d. It is a cloud based CAM software to generate toolpaths free of cost. For more details visit

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karthick .
Answered on 21 Apr, 2017 05:31 AM

compared to other cam software................nx cam a product of simens almost efficient to generate cnc program

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Martin Camirand
Answered on 5 Jan, 2012 12:27 PM

There is no magical program to generate a cnc program, for each one I've try you have to know your way around and what you are doing to get a good results. Personnally I had good experiences with mastercam but i'm sure there is some other good software around.

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Shaun Marsh
Answered on 29 Sep, 2012 05:40 AM

I think CNC router is the best for generating cnc part program.It is very good & easy to use.CNC routers are the machines that are used in a number of ways.
<a href="">Used CNC Router</a>

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