What's New in Aspire V8.5
- including V8 features

Aspire 8.5 is now available. On this page you can read a summary of the features that were added in Version 8 and also features added in version 8.5. If you already have Aspire V8 then you should take a look at our page that covers just What's New in Aspire V8.5. Please note any features indicated as having been added to V8 are also in V8.5 which has superceded it.

On this page you can navigate by clicking items from the list on the right or by scrolling down the page. As well as written descriptions covering the features added in these versions there are a selection of “What’s New” videos included in the relevant areas. Alternatively, to read a detailed description of all the changes that were added first to V8 and then to V8.5 you can download the “What’s New” PDF document using the buttons below.

What's New in Aspire 8 PDF Document

What's New in Aspire 8.5 PDF Document

To skip to a particular section click on a heading below:

Click here to download the Trial Version of Aspire 8.5

Aspire V8.5 Upgrades and the Customer Portal

Aspire V8.5 is free to customers who already own a copy of V8. The upgrade is accessed through the Vectric Customer Portal. Pricing for the upgrade from Aspire V4.5, V3 or V2 to V8.5 can be seen on the Vectric Store Upgrade Page

Note: The jump in version numbering from 4.5 to 8/8.5 is to bring Aspire into line with its sibling products, VCarve Pro and Cut2D.

3D Clip Art

The already extensive collection of Clip Art that is included with Aspire was increased with the addition of a further 50 models from the Vector Art 3D website - http://www.vectorart3d.com. Each of these models comes in the three Vector Art 3D styles; A-Regular, B-Dished and C-Recessed, totalling 150 new models. These models alone would cost over US$1500 if purchased. This brings the total number of 3D models included with Aspire to over 1300, and the total number of Vector Art 3D models within this worth over $5000! You can see a few of the new models in the image and all of them in the “What’s New in Aspire 8” PDF doc.

A selection of the new 3D Clip Art models___---------___)

Drawing Tools

The Drawing tools have a selection of powerful new features added along with enhancements to existing tools to make vector drawing and layout more efficient. Below is a list of the Drawing Tool highlights which are expanded upon below this list and covered in detail in the “What’s New” PDF.

  • Create Vector Texture
  • Trim Objects to Vector Boundary
  • Mirror Node Editing
  • Angled Guidelines
  • Various other updates to filleting, snapping etc.

The new Create Vector Texture drawing tool allows you to very quickly generate wave-based vector patterns to machine decorative panels. By adjusting the controls you can quickly iterate from a standard set of waves through randomized curves and even create grain patterns with added “noise” to make them appear irregular and more natural looking. This can be used to make everything from architectural wall panels to faux woodgrain for the background of a sign. 


Create Vector Texture - Vector Pattern and Toolpath Examples


The Trim Objects tool lets you select any set of vectors and trim them inside or outside a second set of selected shapes. This makes trimming large sets of vectors very quick and easy. 

Trim Objects inside or outside of a boundary

Nodes can now be edited symmetrically by hitting the H or V key while in node editing mode to create Horizontal or Vertical mirror line. This helps save time when editing the individual parts of a job that has a mirrored layout.

SVG Import  
Version 8.5 has added support to import vectors from an *.SVG format file. SVG is a commonly used format on webpages and also as an output choice from design programs like Inkscape. Designed to be scaled SVG files often contain useful data which can now be extracted when importing vectors. Currently text entities are ignored by the SVG import, so they should be converted to curves in an SVG editor before importing if required.

Dimensioning and Snapping
Dimensions applied in the software can now snap to guidelines and also the corners and mid points of each side of the specified job setup area. This makes it easier to add measurements using locations which are not specified by a vector entity in the job.


Filleting Improvements
The vector Filleting tool has been improved so that the corner filleting no longer needs to lie between two straight line spans on a vector. It is now possible to add a fillet between any of the vector span types; Straight Line, Arc or Bezier Curve. In addition if the software finds a fit for the specified Radius it will add the Fillet across multiple spans. These enhancements add
a lot of flexibility to vector design within the software making it possible to easily add fillets to any area on a vector shape.

Extra Symmetry and Shift options added to Create Linear Array (Block Copy) tool
The Create Linear Array (Block Copy) tool has had some powerful new options added to it that give you much more flexibility when copying objects. The "Symmetry..." area on the form has four buttons with L shaped icons. Clicking any of these buttons will cycle through four possible options to adjust how the group of the first four objects in an array will be laid out relative to their direction. This pattern will then be propagated across the complete layout. The L-shape on the button indicates the layout that will be used relative to the objects original orientation.

The other addition to this tool is the ability to add a "Shift" distance to alternate Rows or Columns in the array. Adding an X shift will move every other row horizontally by that value. Adding a Y shift will move every other column vertically up or down by the value input. This allows you to easily create things like a brick pattern layout. Combining these new options along with the existing tools in the function makes it much easier to create a greater diversity of layouts with the Array tool.


Clipping Region for Bitmap Vector Fitting - * NEW V8.5 Feature *
When fitting a vector to a bitmap you can now select the region of the image that the fitted vector will be limited to. Selection is done by dragging a box with the mouse over the area of the Bitmap that you want to isolate the fitted vector. If a box is specified then vectors will only be fitted to the area of the Bitmap within the box and the edges will be closed. If no additional area is selected then the vectors will be fitted to the entire image as with previous versions.


Move to Sheet
When working with data that has been distributed across multiple "Sheets"by the Nesting tool you now have the added flexibility to manually move objects from one Sheet to another. Previously it was not possible to move objects between sheets. Simply select the object/s you want to move in the 2D View and right-mouse-click on them to access the "Move to Sheets" option from the pop-up menu.


Toolpath Options

The Toolpath options in Aspire have seen a number of important additions to the existing strategies, these help to improve efficiency and provide more control for the user over how parts are machined. Below is a list and summary of the Toolpath improvements which are covered in detail in the “What’s New” PDF.

  • Create Merged Toolpaths
  • Toolpath Setup Sheet
  • Lass Pass Allowance for Profile Toolpath
  • Pass Depth Control for Pocket Toolpath
  • New Boundary Selection for 3D Toolpaths
  • Ramping for 3D Roughing
  • VCarve option to start toolpath on surface at vector start point
  • Turn off ramped entry and exit for Texture Toolpath
  • Vector Selector Options Remembered
  • Select specific toolpaths to show in Toolpath Summary (time estimate)
The merge toolpath option allows multiple toolpaths that use the same tool to be merged together into a single one. This means that all toolpaths (using the same tool) for an individual part of the job can be machined before the toolpath moves onto another areas, this allows parts to be taken off the table as they are completed rather than only when you get to the profile toolpath. In some cases this option will also be used help to reduce cutting times and increase efficiency for some jobs.

The new Toolpath Job Sheet option (Toolpaths dropdown menu – Create Job Sheet) provides a way to easily create a summary of all the toolpaths for your part. It outputs an HTML file that can be viewed or printed from a web browser that provides a neat summary of the job, its size, material setup and toolpath information such as tool used, duration etc. This is a very helpful set of data to access at your CNC when running the different toolpaths. It can also be saved with the job to provide a quick reference file to remind you of the details of your archived work.

Job Setup Sheet - Summary of Job Details-__-_-----------------------------Create Merged Toolpath Option ------


The Profile toolpath now has the option to use a Last Pass Allowance, this will force the intermediate passes in the toolpath to stay away from the part edge by a specified amount, leaving a small amount of material that will be cut by the last pass. Cutting full-depth like this can dramatically improve finished edge quality for some applications and material types. This new feature also has an option to cut the last pass in the opposite direction to the previous passes where that may be of benefit.

Last Pass Allowance

In Aspire 4.5 a form was added to provide complete control over the toolpath pass-depths when Profile machining, Aspire 8 sees this also added to the Pocket toolpath strategy. This means you can specify any set of cutting depths when pocketing and even enter different values for each tool if pocketing with multiple tools. 



Create Multiple Passes with Pocket Toolpaths_____

When 3D machining, either Roughing or Finishing, you can now specify the boundary of the toolpath in 3 different ways. The Model Boundary uses the edge of the visible components (Composite Model) so does not require a vector to be created. The Material Boundary will use the edge of the whole job as a boundary The Selected Vector/s option will use any currently selected vectors to specify the toolpath area. The machined area can be increased in size by entering a value for the Boundary Offset.

3D Machining Boundary Selection _______

3D Roughing now has the option to add ramps to the entry moves, helping to reduce load on the tool as it plunges into the job.

When using the VCarve toolpath you can now specify to “Use Vector Start Points”, this will force the tool to enter the area to be VCarved from the start point of the vector and carve down into the part from that position. This prevents it plunging into a deep part of the job to start the cut, in some materials this will help to reduce tool marks and loading.

When the “Use selected vectors as pattern” option is checked in the Texture Toolpath strategy you can now choose whether the tool will ramp in and out at the ends of each selected vector - as was the default in the previous version. De-activating this can be very helpful, particularly when used with the patterns created with the new Vector Texture tool as not-ramping can be faster to machine and in some cases makes a cleaner panel edge when cutting the texture out.

The software will now retain the settings for the Vector Selector making it quicker to associate Layers or other selection criteria with a particular toolpath. From an administrative point of view, the toolpath summary will now only display visible toolpaths when getting a time estimate, this makes it easier to look at data for a sub-set of toolpaths. If all or none of the toolpaths are visible it will still give you the total for all of them as before.



Moulding Toolpath

This is a completely new feature added to v8.5 that allows you to generate an efficient and smooth toolpath to cut 3D shapes such as mouldings, arches and frames that have a constant cross-section. The shape is specified by selecting two vectors; the first will represent the Drive Curve of the shape and define its position in the job setup area, the second vector defines the Cross Section that will in effect be extruded along the Drive Curve to create the swept shape when machined. As the shape of the toolpath is generated from vectors rather than being projected onto a 3D model the results will generally provide an excellent finish and also be quicker to machine.

The Moulding Toolpath function allows you to specify two tools, one to in effect "Rough" out the majority of material with a larger tool and then the other to do the "Finishing". This lets you efficiently and safely machine parts too deep to cut in a single pass. In addition, the Moulding Toolpath has some clever options to further improve finish and efficiency. For the "Finish" tool you can opt to "Vary Stepover", this can be used to improve finish on shapes that have a lot of steep angles or curves on the cross-section. For the "Rough" tool you can choose to have it finish any flat (horizontal) regions on the cross section, which are common on a lot of Moulding shapes. If the tool has a flat bottom (which is typical for roughing) then it will allow these areas to be cut faster and also give a better finish on the edge of these areas than if they were cut with the "Finish" tool. Using this option also allows you to choose to avoid creating a "Finish" toolpath in those flat areas further increasing time-savings when running your toolpath.





The Moulding Toolpath shows a preview in the 2D View (left), then creates very clean toolpath moves (center) to cut a smooth shape (right).


Deleting All Toolpaths
Version 8.5 now has an option to Delete more than one toolpath, this can be accessed through the right-mouse-click menu in the Toolpath List. When you right-click on a toolpath name and choose Delete from the menu it will give you four choices to either delete the toolpath you clicked on, delete all the toolpaths or delete either the currently visible or invisible toolpaths. This will dramatically speed up toolpath deletion if you need to remove more than one at a time.

Toolpath Undo
This version has added the ability to Undo and Redo toolpath deletion. This is a very welcome addition for anyone who has accidently deleted a toolpath that they did not intend to, as you can now just hit the Undo icon, Edit - Undo or Ctrl+Z to get it back. This will also work with the new multiple-delete option detailed above.

Increased Toolpath Preview Simulation Resolution
Two additional choices have been added for the resolution that is used to create the Toolpath Preview material block. There are now five choices that can be accessed from the "Toolpaths" drop down menu and its sub-menu "Preview Simulation Quality". These choices are; Standard, High, Very High, Extremely High and Maximum. The first three are the equivalents of those available in previous versions of the software, the last two offer options for substantially more detail to be displayed when previewing the results of your Toolpaths.

This Preview block is defined by a dense grid of very small points (pixels), the more pixels used to create the block then the better detail from a toolpath that can be rendered. There is however a potential performance penalty for choosing a higher resolution and a guide to this is indicated on the drop-down menu showing how much slower it may be to perform the simulation, this will of course vary a lot depending on your computers specifications and what options you have displayed in the Preview Toolpath form (Animate Toolpath - Draw Tool).

The images show the Toolpath Previews for the same part which is a relatively small part on a larger piece of material, the one on the left shows it with a "Standard" setting and the one on the right with the new "Maximum" option selected.










Create Texture Area

This is a completely new feature for v8.5 that assists in the creation of components with a repeating pattern or texture. It requires a single "Tile" component and optionally one or more closed boundary vectors which define the region in which the tiling should take place. The Create Texture Area form lets you specify the spacing and overlap of each tile, enter a "Shift" for every other row or column of your pattern and control the "Symmetry" or reflection of the tiles. This provides powerful control to make an incredible number of variations to your pattern and create some very interesting effects. As you make changes you can hit Apply to quickly regenerate the texture in the 2D and 3D View. In addition you can dynamically change the size and position of your original "Tile" at any time - the Texture Area will then update so you can see the effects of your edit and continue to tweak it to fit your desired application.

To help with using this new tool, 40 completely new pieces of Clip Art have been created, these can be downloaded from the Vectric Customer Portal when you download your software installation. They will be installed in the Clip Art folders under the heading "Texture Area Tiles". In addition to this pre-created Clip Art you can also create new components or edit existing ones to use with this function so the potential for creating architectural panels, sign backgrounds, textures or any other applications are endless.

The video provides a detailed overview of this function and how to use it.







Images show samples of an individual tile in the white square and the Texture Area components produced from them.

Modeling Tools

The Modeling tools in Aspire have seen a major overhaul with version 8, particularly in the way you interact with components. There are also new tools for offsetting in 3D, improved shading options and better smoothing and sculpting! Below is a list of the many Modeling changes along with a summary of each one, they are covered in detail in the “What’s New” PDF.

  • Component Manipulation in the 3D View
  • Component Levels
  • New Clipart Browser layout
  • Relief Offset
  • Smoothing is faster and more flexible
  • Shadow Shading
  • Enhancements to Sculpting
  • Component combining and 3DClip file export enhances

Editing and assembling 3D shapes has been made much easier in Aspire with the addition of controls to manipulate Components in the 3D View. An object can be selected, deleted, moved, re-scaled and rotated directly in the 3D View along with access to changing the combine mode, shape height, base height, tilt or fade of the Component too. This creates a very fluid editing environment where you can immediately see the effects of the changes on the Composite Model.

Another option which makes it easier to manage your Components is the addition of Levels to the Component Tree. Levels can be used in lots of different ways to suit your workflow, for example you may use them like the 2D Layers as an organizational tool for your 3D part or you may use them in a similar fashion to grouping components to make sub-assembled shapes, the key benefit to this being that you can still edit the individual components in a way you cannot with groups.

An improved Clipart Browser layout means you can now add folders to your library from any locationon your PC making it easier to work on specific projects or to keep multiple set of models in different areas. You can also still access the folder-browser style layout from the previous version on the Local Files tab at the top of the form.

Edit Components directly in the 3D View


The completely new Relief Offset function allows the creation of a new component which is a 3 dimensional offset of the Composite Model (the visible components). The model can be offset outwards or inwards from the original shape. One application of this would be to create two sides of a mold or press to create a wall thickness for the material to be formed.

_-_________New Component Tree and Levelsa_________-_________Offset Model Function__________--------______New Clip Art Library

The Smooth model tool has been made much faster than in the previous version and you can also now “bake” the smoothing into the model, allowing it to be smoothed multiple times without exiting the function. This still gives you a high level of control when making this type of edit but also allows much faster and more aggressive smoothing of the model when required.

The Shadow Shading dramatically enhances the quality of the shaded model and is almost instantaneous to use. Activating this option creates more contrast in the shaded image to bring out the details in the part in the same way glazing a real finished part might. The resulting images are more effective when getting customer approval on the finished part or for use in creating marketing materials.

Shaded Image - No Shadow Shading __________________________Shaded Image - With Shadow Shading

The Sculpting in Aspire has had some internal improvements to enhance speed and smoothness along with adding the ability to show the 2D grayscale in the 3D view while sculpting. This makes it much easier to compare what you’re sculpting to other components in the part so editing becomes easier, quicker and more accurate without having to go in and out of the function to check progress.

Often as you progress with a job you find you want to create a composite component to edit with tools such as the sculpting or smoothing that require them to be baked into one object. When doing this it’s also good practice to keep a copy of the original components in case you want to change the design at a more basic level. There is a new icon – Create component from visible model - that allows the Composite Model to be easily copied into a new component, making this workflow more linear.

Another administrative option for 3D Component export is more flexibility to save your model as a 3DClip file, this can now be done with the contents of the current composite model (your visible 3D part) or by the contents of a Level, removing the need to group them together before export.

Sculpting - View the 2D grayscale while in 3D view

Create Texture Area
This incredibly powerful new feature is dealt with above in the Create Texture Area section of this page.

Smoothing Modifications
The Smoothing tool now has the ability to change the object being smoothed without exiting the function. This makes it quicker to apply different amounts of smoothing to separate components. When you have smoothed an object by your desired amount you just need to click the "Bake Current Smoothing" button and then select the next object you want to smooth.

Add Base Height to Levels
Levels which were introduced in V8 to help manage Components now have the ability to add a Base Height to raise up all the 3D objects contained on them. This makes it easy to simultaneously lift a set of Components to allow them to sit proud of a background texture or to make it easier to setup background and foreground shapes so they relate correctly to each other and stay in position as you further edit the layout of your design.

The Base Height value can be edited through the Properties form for a Level. This can be accessed by double-clicking on the Level's name or selecting it and hitting the Properties (wrench) icon in the Modeling Tools. From the form you can use the slider-bar to specify a Base Height or enter a value and hit the spacebar to see the affect of this in the 3D View.

Ability to fix Z-Height when editing the size of a Component
Within the "Set Size" transform tool there is now an option on the form to "Auto Scale Z". When this is checked the software will behave the same as it did in previous versions and will automatically scale the height of a 3D Component when its X/Y size is changed. If the option is un-checked then the software will now preserve the current Z-Height of a component while it is being scaled in X or Y. As this sets a modal-flag, the behaviour will continue whether the Set Size form is being used to scale the oject or even if its being scaled dynamically with the drag handles in the 2D or 3D Views.
To change it you will always need to go back to the Set Size form and toggle its current state.

While in most cases the way the software worked previously by always scaling the Z-Height of an object is preferable, there are also many cases when you wanted to disable this. For example when you had set the height of something relative to the material or another object. It will also be very useful in the case of something like a background texture where you typically don't want its depth to vary after you have set it even if it needs to be resized to fit a design modification.

Move to Level
From within the Component tree you can now right-mouse-click on a Components name to access a new function "Move to Level". This option will give you a list of the currently specified levels to choose from or the option of a"New Level". Picking an existing Level name will move the Component and positions it at the top of the list of Components on that Level. Picking the "New Level" option will prompt you to enter a name and Combine Mode for the Level that the Component is being moved to.

Import to Level
From within the Clip Art browser you can now right-mouse-click on the image of a Component Preview to access the new "Import to Level" command. As with the "Move to Level" option this will give you a list of the currently specified levels to choose from or the option of a "New Level". Picking an existing Level name will import the Component and positions it at the top of the list of Components on that Level. Picking the "New Level" option will prompt you to enter a name and Combine Mode for the Level that the Component is being imported to. The imported Component will be positioned in the middle of your job setup area (the same way it would if you double click an object in the Clip Art browser).

SketchUp 2016 file format support
Version 8.5 has added support for the SketchUp 2016 format for *.SKP files when importing 3D mesh data from SketchUp using the "Import 3D Model or Component Icon" on the Modeling Tab.


In addition to the direct improvements to Drawing, Modeling and Toolpath functions in Aspire there were some other important general changes to the software as shown in the following list and summarized below, these are covered in detail in the “What’s New” PDF.

  • 64-bit Support
  • Bitmaps now imported from PDF files
  • Increment and Save
  • Document Variables
  • SketchUp2015 file import support
  • All new Tutorial Videos and Video Browser

Aspire 8 sees the introduction of a 64-bit build, this will be installed automatically on operating systems that support 64-bit technology. The 64-bit version will see increases to both the speed of calculation and the file sizes that can be handled, particularly for memory hungry operations such as importing very large 3D mesh files (STL, OBJ etc.), importing 3D scanned data, calculating complex toolpaths or nesting many objects.

In previous versions of Aspire we could only extract vectors from a PDF document and if none were present you would see an error message that no useful data could be imported from the PDF as it only contained bitmap data. Version 8 will now import any images that are present in the document along with the vectors. If it’s a multi-page file then a separate layer will be created for the contents of each page of vectors and/or images.

Increment and Save (Ctrl + Alt + S) will allow you to save the file you’re working on without overwriting the original file. It automatically adds a new suffix to the file-name to differentiate it from the previous saved copy. This makes it easy to save iterations as you progress with your design while retaining the ability to open a file from an earlier stage of its development.

In the previous version of the software it was possible to use a limited number of variables in equations in the calculation edit boxes. This was useful for picking up values automatically such as “Z” to get the value for the material block thickness etc. This has now been extended to allow user-defined variables, not just the ones offered by the software. They can be added or changed from the Edit drop down menu by selecting Document Variables; these can be utilized to specify often used but changing values across a part or within different jobs.

The SketchUp importer has been updated to be compatible with SketchUp 2015 allowing import of 2D and 3D data from SKP files.

Aspire 8 has over 100 tutorial videos comprising over 35 hours of content. These are made up of completely new examples combined with existing tutorials that have been updated and re-recorded using the new version of the software. These are supported by a new Video Browser that provides a choice of how you view the tutorials, they can now be ordered by category (Getting Started, Drawing, 2D Toolpaths etc.) or you can show the individual projects so that all videos relating to that specific example are shown.

The new Video Browser makes it easy to view tutorials

Specify the number of files in the "Recently Opened Files..." list
There is now an option to specify the number of files to show in the "Recently Opened Files..." list on the left hand pane when you first start the software. The number of files displayed are controlled in the Edit - Options menu, simply enter a value for "Recent File List Size", then once you re-start the software the list will build up to the number entered as you open or save new files.

The image to the right shows a list that has been edited to show 8 files.

SketchUp 2016 file format support
Version 8.5 has added support for the SketchUp 2016 format for *.SKP files when importing 2D vector data.

Animating the 3D View

Movements between the 4 set viewing directions (Iso, Along X, Along Y and Along Z) in the 3D View are now animated and will transition between views rather than instantly change. This behaviour can easily be toggled using the "Animate Camera Moves" entry in the Edit - Options drop-down menu.





Gadget Enhancements

Gadget Shortcuts
If you have Gadgets installed that you need to frequently access you can now associate a set of short-cut key combinations to run them automatically. The Gadget Shortcuts function can be found under the Gadgets drop-down menu. There is a list of 9 key combinations shown - Ctrl + F1 through to Ctrl + F9. In the box to the right of each of these it will say "Currently Unset" when you first open the form. Click on any one of these and then you can use the down-arrow to the right of the box to select from the list of currently installed Gadgets to associate them with the adjacent key combination.

Once set you can hit the specified key combination to run the Gadget, this makes access to your most used Gadgets much quicker and so help maintain a fluid workflow.

Job Setup Sheet Editor Gadget
Another addition to the Gadget drop-down menu in v8.5 is the option for the "Setup Sheet Editor". Clicking this gives you access to a form that will allow you to customize the Job Setup Sheet. You are able to change the logo displayed on the sheet, change the title, change the color of the header, footer and border and also choose which sections you want to output when you generate a Setup Sheet. You can also use the Reset button to return it to the default formatting.




Click here to download the Trial Version of Aspire 8

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