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

for learning purpose.

34 Answers

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.

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.

1) For "lowcost" CAD SpaceClaim (http://www.spaceclaim.com/en/Resources/VidPlayer.aspx) or IronCAD (http://www.ironcad.com/) not Inventor, SolidWork and company,
2) For Artistic CAM Vectric Aspire (http://support.vectric.com/) not ArtCam and company
2.1) For Technical CAD CAM TopSolid (or TopSolid Wood; http://www.topsolid.com/) or ZW3D (http://www.zwsoft.com) not MasterCam and company
3) For free take LinuxCNC (linuxcnc.org) never Mach3.
This list will spare you so many headaches, trust me.
For more info: http://falegname.wordpress.com

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.

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="http://www.routercenter.com/">Used CNC Router</a>

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.

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 .

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

As for me there are only two options:
1) Paid - ArtCam - http://www.artcam.com/
2) Free - Dxf2Gcode - https://sourceforge.net/projects/dxf2gcode/
For both of them I advise you to use free dxf files library - http://dxf1.com/

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

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!

I think CNC simulator or cimco edit best software

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 https://artjoker.net/blog/how-to-choose-open-source-software-for-your-project/

My favourite is cam.openbuilds.com = 100% free and open source

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.

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

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

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.

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



cnc (vmc) programming with unigraphics is very easy.

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$" http://www.zwsoft.com/products/zw3dlite/. The doc. is good.
In the other hand we have Vectric Aspire http://www.vectric.com for the woodworking art 1500$ with a lot of tutorials around the web, for cabinets try Cabinet Vision http://www.cabinetvision.com.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 http://www.oncreate3d.com/

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

MasterCAM is the best software for generating CNC Part.
It is free available with easy installation.
I would like to share my tutorial video for CNC Part by using MASTER CAM Software.
Please watch tutorial video for user friendly.


I am searching for the best CAD/CAM for my studies for now I only use CNCSimulator

It is really sad that most people don't know the difference between Free or Open Source software and freemium/shareware/spyware tools. I have previously listed all the available options for CAD here:


and I have also listed all the available CAM/CNC ones here:


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.