|Drawing & Layout Tools|
Vector Shape Creation
The software has a comprehensive set of drawing tools to let you easily create vectors from scratch or add to imported data. These include options for creating standard shapes (circle, ellipse, rectangle, polygon and star) along with line, curve and arc drawing tools. These tools can be controlled using typed input to create exact sized objects or can be used dynamically with the mouse to sketch your artwork. The tools also take advantage of the ‘snapping’ to let you use points on existing objects to ‘snap’ onto when you are drawing vectors.
|Image Tracing (Vectorization)|
Image Tracing also known as Vectorization allows you to take an imported image such as a scanned drawing, graphic design or photo and to convert colors in that to vector outlines. These outlines can then be used as part of your design to create toolpaths or combine with other 2D vector data.
|Advanced Text Tools|
The Advanced Text Tools let you access True Type or Open Type fonts on your PC to create text outlines for your design. In addition the software comes with a selection of specialist Single Stroke / Stick Engraving Fonts for efficient machining when making things like badges or small signs. The text can be controlled using automatic sizing and layout options. There are also editing tools for Fitting Text to a Curve and interactive text arcing and spacing (kerning).
|Import 2D data (DXF, DWG, EPS, AI, PDF, SKP etc. )|
Data can be imported from a huge range of other design programs using a variety of industry standard file formats. These include DXF, EPS, AI as well as PDF files (if they contain vector data). Once imported, the program has a wide range of tools to make working with this data as efficient as possible.
A very important set of tools are those used to identify duplicate vectors and identify and rejoin open vectors. These tool can save an enormous amount of time when working with poor quality data in getting it ready to machine.
As well as importing data from other programs the software also offers the ability to export your data in either DXF, EPS or AI file formats. This feature is very important if you need to share data with your customer in order that they can use it to plan a layout or installation.
The Dimensioning tools allows you to create a variety of different types of measurements on your drawing. These can be oriented in any direction or fixed horizontally or vertically. There are also options to add angular and arc dimensions. You can control the text height, font number of decimal places and position for each one.
|Vector Transform & Editing|
Whether your design vectors have been created in the software or imported you have a large choice of editing options to prepare your part for toolpath creation or modeling. Vectors can be easily scaled, moved, mirrored, distorted, grouped, welded, trimmed, extended, offset, smoothed and joined together. As with the drawing tools you either have precise control over the editing values adjust the vectors very accuratley or can use the mouse to dynamically make adjustments until your layout looks correct.
In addition to the editing tools the software also has tools to let you layout parts either in a rectangular array to create a grid of objects or in a circular array to create symmetrical layouts around a center point. Vectors can also be pasted along a vector by specifying the distance between each copy or just fitting a specific number on the guiding object.
The Layers are a very efficient way to keep your 2D data organized. They can be used however it suits the way a person likes to work or can be employed to optimize the way a part is toolpathed.
One of the main uses of Layers is to allow you to temporarily hide data you were not currently working with. Layers could also be used to group vectors you might want to select for a specific operation. The ability to associate toolpaths with layers and types of data means you can create Toolpath Templates which can be assigned to other VCarve Pro parts that share the same structure. This is particularly powerful for applications like Cabinet Making where different designs can be automatically machined once a template has been set-up.
|Rulers, Snap Grid and Guidelines|
Rulers, Snap Grid and Guidelines help make vector drawing and layout easier and more accurate. These options can be switched on / off as required along with Snapping options that automatically detect and snap the cursor to key regions on a design.
|Create Vector Texture|
Repeating vector patterns can be quickly created using the Create Vector Texture tool. Its easy to modify the settings to create an infinite number of variations from regular wave patterns through to uneven natural looking grain lines.
These vectors can be machined using the Profile and Texture toolpaths to create decorative wavy texture panels along with wood-grain and sand-blast effects. These can also be projected onto a 3D surface to add even more variation.
|3D Assembly||back to top|
Import 3D Models (STL, OBJ, 3DM etc.)
VCarve allows you to import a single 3D Mesh file created in other CAD software such as,
- Rhino, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Silo, MOI, Blender, SketchUp etc.
- STL, 3D DXF, OBJ, 3DS, VRML, 3DM, SKP file formats
Interactively change the size and orientation of the 3D model when importing it into VCarve to get it positioned correctly for machining.
Once imported a 3D model can be re-positioned, scaled, stretched, mirrored or even inverted (to create a mold).
Import 3D Clip Art (V3M)
Mulitple Vectric Clip Art files (V3M file format) can be imported into VCarve and combined together to make a more complex finished 3D assembly.
One imported the files become 3D Components and are managed using the Component Tree. This allows the individual pieces to be edited using the 3D Model Tools. As you make changes to a Components the Composite 3D model will update to show you instantly the effects of your choices making it easy to iterate through different design choices.
The software includes a number of free models (see below). In addition to this Vectric has two websites that offer additional V3M models for sale.
Vector Art 3D have a library of over 1500 high-quality, CNC-ready dimensional clip art models. These can be purchased, downloaded and carved as individual models or combined to make more complex designs.
Design & Make takes the CNC-ready clip art concept to the next level. They offer projects that include 5+ individual themed models along with suggested layouts. These can be assembled to make a design that can be further customized with text or other embellishments, making a quick and easy way to create custom 3D projects on your CNC.
Clip Art Browser
The Clipart tab provides quick and convenient access to 3D Clipart or 2D vector artwork. This allows you to easily re-use previously created vectors in new projects.
This tab includes the library browser that allows you to add folders containing 3D Clipart into the software or you can use the local files option that allows you to quickly see the contents of several folders of 3D Clipart in one place.
You can “Drag & Drop” a thumbnail into the 2D or 3D View and the selected object will be imported at the location of the dropped thumbnail and added to the model’s Component Tree.
The Clipart tab is a great way to browse and select from the Free Clip Art that is included with VCarve.
|Free 3D Clipart (worth over $2,000)|
The VCarve installation disk includes a large variety of 2D and 3D Clip Art files that can be used in your own projects.
The files include a mix of formats. The 2D artwork (110 items) comes in CRV format. The 3D files are V3M format.
Over 70 of the models are commercial quality pieces of 3D clipart from Vector Art 3D. Each one of these is presented in 3 different styles, raised, dished and recessed (so actually 200+ variants), retail cost to purchase just these files would be over $2,000 if bought from the Vector Art 3D website.
View 3D Clipart Guide and Catalog (PDF) (3.9 Mb)>
|3D Model Tools|
The 3D Model Tools let you access functions to import and edit the 3D Components.The Properties (wrench) icon allows you to change things like the components name, how it combines with other objects, the tilt and fade of the shape and to adjust its height.The Create Vector Boundary function lets you fit a 2D vector around 3D objects for machining operations.
The Smooth tool can help to blend ovelapping objects together in the Composite model.
The Scale Model Height option lets you take your finished part and globally scale its depth to allow it to fit into a specific material size before machining.
The Slicing function lets you take a model with a deep Z depth and divide it into horizontal slices of a specific size which can be individually machined in thinner material to create parts which can be re-assembled after cutting.
In addition to 3D Model Tools, many of the vector editing tools which can be used on 2D data in VCarve can also be used to edit 3D Components. Shapes can be easily scaled, moved and mirrored.
|3D View Component Manipulation|
Many of the dynamic component editing tools can be accessed directly from the 3D View. This allows 3D objects to be moved, scaled and rotated. In addition how they combine with other shapes can be adjusted along with their height and evening adding a tilt or fade.
Editing the components in the 3D View makes it quick and easy to see the immediate effect of the changes to the Composite Model and so reduce the time it takes to create a 3D layout.
|Toolpaths||back to top|
Referencing the software to how your CNC will be setup is one of the most important elements of the process. A summary of the Material Setup is displayed at the top of the Toolpath Tab allowing you to quickly check the settings before you start calculating toolpaths. Any of these values can be easily adjusted to change the tool reference for its X,Y or Z zero location, adjust the position where your machine starts from or specify the distance to ensure the tool lifts above any clamping that is being used.
2D Production Profiling
Using the profiling toolpath strategy, objects can be cut out quickly and efficiently. Simply select the vector shapes you wish to profile, select the tool from the tool database and the software will do the rest. The Profiling automatically offsets for the tool radius and sorts nested shapes to ensure that inner shapes such as the center of a letter ‘O’ are cut before the outer shape (so parts are not released from the material before they are cut). Full control of cut direction is offered along with either automatic or manual control of tool entry point for each shape.
Profile Machining includes production cutting options that ensure parts can be held in place and accurately machined with high quality edges and corner detail.
- Angular “3D” Tabs for smoother profiling plus advanced options for automatic positioning to hold parts in place when machining
- Lead In / Out and Overcut distance to prevent dwell marks appearing on components
- Advanced Ramp options for controlling how the cutter enters the material, reducing heat build-up and cutter wear
- Profile around the Outside / Inside of open shapes
- Sharp internal and external beveled edges and corners
Cutouts can be done in multiple passes depending on the maximum cutting depth of the tool used and a positive or negative allowance can be specified to either ‘under cut’ or ‘overcut’ the shape if required. The number of passes on a cut can be edited very precisely to allow very thin final cuts or to individual add or remove particular cut depths.
A very powerful feature is the ability to specify that square corners are required. This is often used when profiling with a V-Bit tool, where with a conventional toolpath the tool will ‘roll’ round a sharp external corner leaving a radius on the chamfer created by the tool, with the ‘square corners’ option an angular chamfer will be created.
The Profile toolpath is probably the most important toolpath option available. It is used for some of the simplest and also the most complex things you may do with your CNC. The software has been structured to let you customize whether you just want simple options for quick cut-outs or whether you want to access more advanced features to control cutting on particular material. This allows both new and experienced users to decide how much information they need to be presented with when creating this frequently used function.
Fast and Efficient Pocketing – optimizes use of two tools
The Pocket toolpath makes machining the material away from inside a vector shape efficient and easy to achieve. Just select all the vectors defining the shapes you want to cut and the program will sort the vectors to identify islands automatically and offset the boundaries for the selected tool radius.
If the Z depth of the pocket exceeds the specified maximum allowed cutting depth for the tool in a single pass, the software will automatically generate multiple passes.
Either climb or conventional cutting directions can be specified in order to produce the best edge finish for your selection of material and cutter. The tool can also be ramped into the job to reduce cutter stress when entering the material.
Whether you are drilling a single hole or hundreds, just select the vectors representing the holes and the software will drill the center of each vector to the specified depth. The grouping feature makes it easy to associate all vectors for a particular toolpath strategy together so only one needs to be selected. The tool database includes a dedicated drill tool type so that the true tool geometry can be seen in the toolpath previews.
As well as a single Z plunge you also have the option to activate Peck Drilling, which drills to a specified depth, retracts the tool to clear the chips, drills down to the next step, retracts the tool and so on until the required finish depth is reached.
V-Carving uses a constant angled cutter that’s moved at flowing variable depth to create a 3D carved effect on the job, similar to the way a craftsman would work by hand. The software automatically calculates a path defined by the combination of the angle of the tool specified and the width and shape of the vectors being machined.
The extremely fast and robust Vectric VCarving engine handles complex designs with ease providing both fast calculation speed and robust handling of imperfect data.
As well as ‘simple’ VCarving, the software supports many advanced VCarving strategies, such as ‘Flat Bottomed’ v-carving, optionally using a second flat bottom tool to optimally clear out the flat areas.
The option to Use Vector Start Points lets you choose the positions the tool will enter the material. For some applications this can help reduce the load and as such potential marking of the finished part, created by tool vibration when plunging into a deep area.
Another advanced capability is the support for VCarving areas wider than the tool by making multiple clearance passes to achieve the required depth. This is done automatically by the software when the carved area is deeper than the maximum cutting depth of the tool.
Raised Prism Machining
The Raised Prism machining strategy is prefect for cutting high quality raised lettering and shapes on signs for restaurants, hotels and bars etc. that look hand-made.
- Raised Prism carving uses the side angle of V cutters to rapidly form angled sides around the selected shapes.
- Automatically calculates the material thickness required to create a full prism based on the job size and cutter angle.
- Calculates multiple Z passes when rough machining is required to remove material from around the prism shape.
- Typically used when cutting raised lettering on signs.
Fluting Toolpaths – Ramp In / Out
Fluting is a special toolpath type for cutting tapered grooves often known as ‘Flutes’ by ramping the cutter into and out of the material. When using this toolpath the software drives the tool along the center of the vector giving you control over the way the tool ramps into the start and end of each selected object. This has many interesting applications outside of just the standard uses you would expect for this type of operation.
- Woodworking and solid surface machining.
- Flutes on columns and fireplaces
- Drainage grooves on kitchen sink and shower units
- Options for ramping in and out to create unique decorative results
Efficient Texture Toolpath
Textured panels are often specified by interior designers and architects and textures are also a very useful option for creating backgrounds on dimensional signs. Vectric has a unique approach to generate unique ‘hand carved’ looking textures which still machine extremely efficiently.
Once you specify a tool (typically a pointed or round profile) then you have various settings you can set to create the characteristics of your texture toolpath. To give these textures a more natural and less machine made look you can set different levels of randomness. The toolpath will replicate the same type of move that would be made by someone using a chisel to carve overlapping strokes into the material. Creating this as a toolpath move (rather than as a 3D model) will minimize the hand-finishing and also the machining time required to cut this.
Textures can also be ‘trimmed’ to a vector boundary allowing the creation of this type of finish in a background area of a job. This is a look very popular with sign makers using Vectric software.
The Auto-Inlay toolpath options calculate profile cut-out and pocketing toolpaths for parts that need to be assembled to make inlays and inserts.
- Automatic cutter radius compensation on corner regions to ensure male shapes will fit into female pockets or cavities
- Allowance option to ensure a sufficient ‘gap’ is created to allow parts to fit together
- 4 different Inlay options that are designed to make machining inlays very simple and straightforward (straight, stepped, pocket and hole)
- Ideal toolpath option for sign makers, woodworkers, plastic and solid surface fabricators who need to cut parts that fit closely together
3D Roughing and Finishing
There are two toolpaths which are typically used to machine the 3D parts of a job in VCarve Software. The areas that these toolpaths cut is governed by selecting one of the three machining limit boundary options, Model Boundary, Material Boundary or selected vector(s). Model Boundary will use the outer silhouette of the Composite Model (all the 3D Components visible in the 3D View) at the time of calculation. This means there is no need to create a vector boundary around them for these operations. Material Boundary will create a toolpath that completely fills the entire Job Area. Selected Vector(s) will use any vectors you have selected in the 2D View as the boundary for the toolpath.
To remove the majority of unwanted stock as quickly as possible most jobs require a 3D Roughing Toolpath to be calculated. There are two Roughing strategies available Z-Level and 3D Raster each of these has advantages depending on the type of shape being cut. The toolpath also has an option to specify an allowance to leave a skin of protective material on the part for the finish cut to clean up.
3D Finish Machining cuts the 3D part of the job to the exact size. The tool parameters let you balance the quality of the surface finish with how long the part will take to cut. Depending on the shape of the part there is a choice of Raster and Offset cutting strategies.
Detailed regions can be machined selectively using smaller cutters to ensure the finest of detail on a 3D project is accurately machined.
Project Toolpath onto 3D Model
The conventional 2D / 2.5D toolpath strategies in VCarve software can also be projected onto an underlying 3D model surface. This allows text or other shapes that follow the 3D contours of the part to be efficiently machined onto the 3D Component model.
- VCarve or Engrave at constant depth onto a 3D surface
- Pocket, Profile, Drill and Texture onto the 3D model
High Quality Toolpath Preview
One of the most important productivity tools available in the software is the realistic 3D toolpath preview support. The results of each individual or the combination of all the toolpaths can be previewed cutting into a 3D preview model. This means that whether your job is a simple toolpath with one tool, or created from a complex combination of tools and strategies at different levels you can be sure that when the job is cut, it is right first time.
As well as showing that the toolpaths are correct, the high quality rendering and ability to use real world material textures and fill colors is a very valuable sales tool. Using the simulation you can create customer proofs and evaluate design options without actually having to cut anything!
If there is no Composite Model (3D Components) visible in the 3D View then VCarve software will retain visibility of the Preview Simulation block in the 3D View when the Preview form is closed. This makes it easier when working on a job that only has vectors with 2D and 2.5D toolpaths in it as you maintain the ability to see the result of the toolpaths while accessing other functions.
|Estimated Machining Times|
To help estimate how long toolpaths will take to cut the software will calculate a time based on the length of the toolpath and the specified feeds and speeds that have been entered for the selected tool. This can be tweaked by the operator by editing the ‘Scale Factor’ so over time a value can be optimized based on actual machine performance to ensure the estimate is as close as possible to the actual cutting time.
Toolpath Tiling – Divides toolpaths to fit material or machine limits
Using the Toolpath Tiling options it is possible to machine objects and designs that are many times larger than the available area of your CNC machine bed.
This process is also invaluable if the maximum sizes of your material pieces are limited. In both cases, a much larger project can still be machined by breaking the toolpath down into manageable tiles or strips, each of which can fit within the machineable area of your CNC machine, or on the available material blocks.
Once cut, the tiles can then be re-assembled to form the finished piece.
Form Tools – custom shaped cutter profiles
The software allows you to add your own custom tools shapes to the tool library and generate toolpaths and simulate the finished result!
Now you can simulate the effects of complex Roman Ogee cutters, Round Over bits and any other custom tool shape you desire. Simply draw the tool profile using the vector drawing tools or import the profile from the manufacturer and you can add your custom tool to the list. In the tool database you can specify feed rates, spindle speeds, cutting depths etc. in the same way that you do for any of the standard tool types.
|Quick Engrave for Diamond drag tools|
Quick Engrave can be used to create toolpaths for Diamond drag tooling. This is typically used for marking engraved products such as gifts, awards, plaques, badges, pens, trophies etc.
|Other Features||back to top|
Import Toolpaths from other Vectric Programs
Toolpaths generated in PhotoVCarve, Cut3D or Vector Art 3D Machinist can be imported into the VCarve to combine with other toolpath types.
Multiple projects can be imported and positioned, where additional elements can then be added and machined. All of the toolpaths can then be previewed and saved from the software.
Please Note: PhotoVCarve, Cut3D and Vector Art 3D Machinist are separate products.
The contents of either the 2D or 3D Preview view can now be printed using the Print command on the File menu. Simply select the view you wish to print (2D or 3D) and then click the Print command. The standard Windows printer dialog allows you to select the printer and adjust its properties. When the OK button in this dialog is clicked, the view will be printed.
The Print Preview command on the File menu allows you to check the layout of your page before you print. The printed view is always scaled to exactly fit the currently selected page size (including allowance for margins). Drawings are not, therefore, printed at actual size and are not printed across multiple pages.
Files saved from the software (*.CRV) include a thumbnail image. Windows Explorer can make use of these thumbnails to show you a preview of each file when you browse a folder.
The software also supports Windows drag and drop functionality to quickly add pieces of 2D artwork into an existing file directly from Windows Explorer. With Windows Explorer open, simply click and drag the 2D clipart thumbnail of the file you want from the Explorer Window into the 2D View. The selected file will be imported automatically and displayed in the software.
VCarve has over 20 hours of video tutorials and all the files you need to work through the examples. These are available from the Tutorial Video Browser link in the software. They are divided into sections beginning with Getting Started projects to let you see the process to produce a complete part and start to understand the general workflow. Then there are videos to cover some of the basics before you get into the fundamental concepts and skills and individual videos on specific features.
The videos are designed to take you step by step through different types of projects to explain the key methods you will use in the software and to demonstrate these on real-world examples. You can just watch and absorb the contents or follow along pausing where necessary to complete a task. In addition to learning how to use the program the videos include tips and tricks for better use of the software. The result of each project provides a library of parts which can be machined to create sample files to improve your CNC skills or help you to demonstrate your capabilities to potential customers.
Technical Support & Vectric Forum
One of the most important features of any program is not within the program itself. It is the support and resources available when you are learning the program or when you have a question about how something works or even a suggestion for a new feature.
Vectric have a dedicated Support Websitehttp://support.vectric.com. This portal allows you to quickly access Video Tutorials, the Vectric User Forum (see below), Free Monthly Projects for Aspire and VCarve, Program Updates, Upgrade Options, Gadgets and the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. The FAQ pages have searchable general and software specific questions and answers.
We are very proud of the quality of our software, and maintain an active and open forum at http://vectric.com/forum/ . The forum lets users ask questions and discuss techniques related to CNC and the software. In addition to direct input from Vectric, there are a large number of enthusiastic users who are always willing to help on any topic associated with CNC machining. Another very interesting section of the forum is the gallery area where users can post images of projects they have done using Vectric software. Please take a look, there are some very nice examples of work on there.
The software has installers for both 32-bit and 64-bit computers. The installer will detect and install the appropriate version for your machine.
The 64-bit build will enable the software to make use of all the RAM on the PC, this will allow faster processing of very complex memory hungry operations.
And Much More …
We have only been able to give a brief overview of some of VCarve Pro and Desktops capabilities here. To really understand the speed, ease of use and full scope of what the program can do then please download the trial version and try it for yourself.
The video tutorials will get you up and running quickly and the trial version is supplied with a number of files which you can scale and cut on your own machine using your own tooling to verify compatibility with your CNC machine. In addition to the standard demonstration files we supply, you can load any of your own data files and preview them using the standard toolpath simulation capabilities of the program.
Download the free, no registration required trial versionnow and see what the software can do for you!
Below you can read about features specific to the Pro version of VCarve.
|Pro Edition Features||back to top|
No Size Limit
VCarve Pro allows you to work with any job size meaning that there are no limitations to the size of part or material that you can work with.
VCarve Desktop only supports job sizes up to a maximum of 24.0 inches x 24.0 inches (600mm x 600mm). You can cut jobs larger than this limit but you will need to use the Toolpath Tiling feature to cut the job in sections.
|Create Merged Toolpath|
The Create Merged Toolpath function allows you to combine toolpaths that use the same tool into a single, new, toolpath that is generally more efficient than cutting the constituent toolpaths independently. This can be particularly useful if you want a complete individual part to be cut before the CNC moves onto the next piece as it can merge the toolpaths into individual components.
Create Job Sheet
The Create Job Sheet command allows you to create a summary sheet that details all the important information you will need at your CNC machine when you come to run the toolpaths. This can be used as a reference to ensure you have the setup correct, have loaded the correct tool etc. It can also be used to archive with an old job as a quick reference file to see what the job the looked like and the machining that was involved for that project.
Wrapped Rotary Axis Toolpaths
Wrapped Rotary Axis Toolpath postprocessing allows all toolpaths created in the software to be saved and run on CNC machines fitted with rotary axis or rotary indexer setups. These setup functions also allow you to specify your rotary part setup and view the wrapped results in the 3D view.
This function can be used for designing and cutting projects such as fluted columns and barley twists or engraving text onto round projects.
Note: This functionality wraps standard 3 axis toolpaths around a cylindrical axis, substituting one of the linear axis to drive the rotation of the block of material while it is being cut.
Toolpath templates allow you to improve the efficiency of your production processes by saving the complete toolpath settings for common operations. These settings can then be re-used at any time on different design geometry. Frequently used strategies and tooling can thus be applied to similar jobs, quickly and easily.
True Shape Nesting
True Shape Nesting lets you automatically arrange and fit vector shapes into your material size or user definable area, to get optimal material usage and minimum wastage.
Part Nesting is perfect for Sign and Cabinet makers who need to minimize material wastage and cut as many parts – letters & cabinet doors / panels – as possible from sheet materials.
Reduce Material Costs = Increased Profits
The nesting routine places vector shapes as close to each other as possible ensuring a sufficient gap to allow the parts to be cut out correctly. The nesting includes options to control part direction with regard to things like material grain or machine orientation.
Gadgets are small programs that add additional functionality to VCarve Pro. They can be used to add new features to the software or automate common sequences of tasks. Examples include adding the ability to cut dovetail style joints with a standard end mill and applying toolpath templates to every sheet in a nested job followed by automatically post-processing and saving the files for your machine tool.
|Production Plate Engraving|
Production Plate Engraving lets you merge text lists into templates for badges and industrial plates. It can be used to merge CSV and text based lists using variables that can automatically scale to fit a pre-made design layout.