What's New in VCarve Pro V8
The latest version of VCarve Pro is now available. This is the direct successor to VCarve Pro V7.5 and includes major enhancements in all current areas of the software. The most significant change to the software is the ability to import and toolpath a 3D model (STL, OBJ etc.) along with functionality to import multiple Vectric Clip Art models (V3M) to create 3D assemblies that can also be 3D machined.
On this page you can read a summary of the new features by clicking items from the list on the right or by scrolling down the page. To see the features in action there is a “What’s New” video included in the relevant areas. Alternatively, to read a detailed description of all the changes you can download the “What’s New” PDF document using the button below.
What's New in VCarve Pro 8 PDF Document
To skip to a particular section click on a heading below:
Click here to download the Trial Version of VCarve Pro 8
VCarve Pro 8 Upgrades and the New Customer Portal
As a major upgrade, VCarve Pro 8 is free to customers who have purchased a new copy of VCarve Pro V7.5 within the 12 months previous to the launch. VCarve Pro 8 is also free to customers who have upgraded from Cut2D to VCarve Pro in the 12 month period before the release date. It is also a free upgrade for customers who upgraded from an older version of VCarve Pro within 3 months of the release.
The upgrade is accessed through the Vectric Customer Portal, this is a new system we are introducing to allow our customers to easily access their licence codes and download the software installs they are entitled to.
Vectric will email all existing VCarve Pro owners with details of how to either download their upgrade or if they are not entitled to it for free, to purchase the upgrade for $175. The software will be distributed via the new Customer Portal which will allow customers to access their software and clipart along with their licence codes at any time.
3D Import and Assembly Tools
A major change for VCarve Pro is the support for importing and toolpathing of 3D models. The new 3D tools are covered in detail in the “What’s New” PDF. The highlights of these changes are below:
- Import a Component or 3D Model
- Component Editing and Management
- Component Properties
- Create Vector Boundary from Selected Components
- Smooth Components
- Scale Model Height
- Slice Model
- Shadow Shading
- The Clipart Tab
At the top of the NEW Modeling Tab you will find the six 3D Model Tools icons. In order, left to right these are; Import a Component or 3D Model, Component Properties, Create Vector Boundary from Selected Components, Smooth Components, Scale Model Height and Slice Model.
The new 3D functionality makes it possible to Import a Component or 3D Model into VCarve Pro in a variety of file formats. If you're working with a 3D mesh-based model from another design system (STL, 3DM, SKP, 3DS, ASC, PRJ, DXF, LWO, WRL and OBJ) then you can bring in a single model. This can be scaled, positioned and then machined using the new 3D Roughing and 3D Finishing toolpaths. In addition the 2D and 2.5D toolpaths within VCarve Pro can also be combined with these 3D toolpaths to cut accurate pockets, drill holes etc.
The 3D functions of VCarve Pro provide even more assembly and 3D design options if working with Vectric Clip Art files (V3M file format) - an unlimited number of these can be imported into the software and then assembled together to make more complex 3D layouts. As with the individual 3rd party models these can be 3D machined with the same flexibility. As detailed above the software comes with over 300 Clip Art models that can be used for assembly and additional files and projects can be purchased from the Vector Art 3D and Design & Make websites.
3D Component Editing and Management is done by selecting Components from the 2D or 3D View or from the Component Tree. A 3D object can be selected, deleted, moved, re-scaled and rotated using either the dynamic editing tools (the handles controlled by the mouse) or by entering precise values in the transform functions in the same way you can edit vectors in the program.
Edit Components directly in the 3D View
Component Properties can be edited to change the objects name, adjust its combine mode, change its height either by scaling or moving it vertically up or down, create a fade or tilt affect to control how it overlaps with other models and adjust its appearance.
The Component Tree is located at the bottom of the NEW Modeling Tab, this area of the interface lets you select models, order them, group them, place them onto Levels for organization. You also control how they interact with each other by changing their Combine Mode.
This lets you create complex 3D assemblies by combining individual pieces, these can be added, subtracted or merged together to make the finished 3D model. The ability to make these changes directly in the 3D View creates a very fluid editing environment where you can immediately see the effects of your choices on the Composite Model.
The Component Tree lets you manage multiple 3D Clip Art files
Create Vector Boundary from Selected Components will fit a vector around the silhouette of the currently selected components. This can be used for machining operations such as the 3D machining boundary or profiling around to cut the part out.
Smooth Components provide a way to generally smooth out your composite model. For some shapes this can help to remove rough edges and create a cleaner blend between overlapping parts.
Towards the end of the assembly process it can be very useful to be able to apply a global scaling to your final composite model. This allows you to accurately fit a design within the available material or to manage the depth of cuts required, without having to individually adjust each of the contributing Components. Scale Model Height lets you define the overall height of your composite model to prepare it for material setup and toolpath generation. Enter a value in the Shape Height edit box directly, or use the slider to adjust the height of your component selection interactively. In either case, the 3D view of the component will update automatically as you adjust the value.
The Slice Model feature allows the user to divide the Composite Model into Z-Slices each of which will become a Component. This is for customers who need to cut a part which exceeds the Z depth of their machine gantry, the cutting length of their tools or the thickness of the material they are using. Once the slices have been cut on the CNC then they can be re-assembled to make the finished full depth part.
When this function is executed each slice will become a Component in the Component Manager and can then be moved into position and have toolpaths calculated on it. An example of this is shown in the images below, on the left it shows a ball component that is 2 inches thick, the image below right shows this divided into two separate components, each a 1inch thick slice of the original.
_________2 Inch thick model of a ball __________________________Ball model sliced into two 1 inch thick pieces
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
With the addition of the 3D tools the software now has a new Clipart Tab within which you will find the Clipart Browser. If you have installed the Clip Art which is included with the new version of VCarve Pro (300+ models) then this will show up automatically in the browser. Each folder can be selected to display the selection of models or 2D files within it in the lower part of the tab.
The browser will only display 3D files that are V3M file format or 2D vector files in the native VCarve Pro CRV format.
Files can dragged from this part of the browser into the 2D or 3D view to import them into your part or you can double click on any file to automatically import it into the center of your job setup area. This makes it very easy to quickly build up a set of 3D clip art models to work with to create an assembly.
The browser lets you add folders to your library from any location on your PC so you can work on specific projects or to keep multiple set of models in different areas. The Folders can be added or removed from the browser using the buttons. You can also access a folder-browser style layout from on Local Files tab at the top of the form.
The size of the thumbnail images displayed for each model within a folder can be asjusted by cliking the black-square icons next to the divider between the top and bottom of the form. You can display 3 different sizes depending on how you want to browse your collection of models.
The Clip Art Browser lets you manage and import your 3D file library
3D Clip Art
With the ability to import and assemble Vectric 3D Clip Art added to VCarve Pro we are now including a set of 3D models (V3M format) in addition to the existing 2D clip art, with the new version.
The clip art includes 70+ models selected from the Vector Art 3D website - http://www.vectorart3d.com. Each of these comes in three styles; A-Regular, B-Dished and C-Recessed, totalling 200+ models. These models alone would cost over US$2000 if purchased. Along with other designs and variation this makes a total of 300+ pieces of 3D clip art that are included with the upgrade. You can see a few of these models in the image and all of them in the “What’s New” PDF.
A selection of the new 3D Clip Art models___---------___)
The Toolpath options in VCarve Pro 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. In addition the ability to do 3D Roughing and 3D Finishing has been added to allow toolpath creation over the 3D model. Below is a list and summary of the Toolpath improvements which are covered in detail in the “What’s New” PDF.
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 area, 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.
- Create Merged Toolpaths
- Toolpath Setup Sheet
- 3D Roughing and 3D Finishing for machining 3D models
- Last Pass Allowance for Profile Toolpath
- Pass Depth Control for Pocket Toolpath
- VCarve option to start toolpath on surface at vector start point
- Turn off ramped entry and exit for Texture Toolpath
- Project toolpath onto 3D model
- Vector Selector Options Remembered
- Select specific toolpaths to show in Toolpath Summary (time estimate)
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 a 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 ------
A major enhancement for this release is the ability to import 3D models from other systems into VCarve Pro V8. 3D Roughing and 3D Finishing toolpath strategies have been added to allow the machining of imported 3D models. Rough Machining is used when carving 3D parts to clear away excess material when the part is too deep for the finishing tool to cut in a single pass. This strategy can either be created as 2D pockets on multiple Z levels to machine away the excess material or as a 3D raster strategy which more closely follows the contours of the 3D shape. Leads on the Roughing can be ramped into the material to reduce tool wear.
Finish Machining is used to machine the final pass on the finished 3D part. For most 3D Finishing cuts a Ball Nosed end mill is used with a reasonably small stepover (8 – 12% of the tool diameter). Variations on this tool type such as a tapered Ball Nosed cutter will also work and may offer more strength with smaller tool sizes. The size of tool will depend on the size of the part and the detail within the 3D part. The toolpath preview function allows you to easily check the finish quality and detail before machining and adjust the settings if required.
3D Roughing Toolpath Preview (left) and 3D Finishing Toolpath Preview (right)
2D toolpaths such as as Pocketing, Profiling and Drilling can be combined with the 3D toolpathing to efficiently machine models with a combination of 2D and 3D features. Toolpath strategies such as VCarving and Texturing can be projected onto the models surface allowing decorative design elements to be added to the machined model incredibly easily
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.
In VCarve Pro 7.5 a form was added to provide complete control over the toolpath pass-depths when Profile machining, Version 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 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.
For the new version of VCarve Pro all 2D and 2.5D Toolpaths have had the Project toolpath onto 3D model option added at the base of each Toolpath form. This is only available if you have imported 3D Models. If this option is checked then after the toolpath has been calculated, it will be projected (or ‘dropped’) down in Z onto the surface of the 3D model. The depth of the original toolpath below the surface of the material will be used as the projected depth below the surface of the model. This can be a good way to machine text onto a curved surface or for cutting a texture into a 3D shape, its most effective on fairly shallow areas of the model.
Check this option to Project a 2D or 2.5D toolpath onto the 3D model__
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.
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. The Angled Guides and improved Snapping make it easier and quicker to create accurate vectors realtive to other objects in the 2D View.
In addition to the direct improvements to Drawing, Modeling and Toolpath functions in VCarve Pro 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
VCarve Pro 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.), calculating complex toolpaths or nesting many objects.
In previous versions of the software we would 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.
VCarve Pro 7.5 allowed the 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.
VCarve Pro 8 has a large set of tutorial videos 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
Click here to download the Trial Version of VCarve Pro 8