Frequently Asked Questions!

We have made getting started with Vectric as easy and seamless as possible. Below are a list of commonly asked questions by customers who have been looking to purchase their first CAD/CAM package or make the move to Vectric software from their current CAD/CAD provider. 

We would strongly advise downloading our free trail software to ensure you choose the software that is right for you. You can also test the software on your CNC machine by cutting one of our free trial projects. 

To download the free trial click here

 

Take a look at the most commonly asked questions about switching to Vectric

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

Why Choose Vectric

If I buy a Vectric product will I actually own the software?

+

Yes – from day one you will own the software outright. In addition, unlike most software companies Vectric allow you to transfer your licence to another user if you sell your CNC on the payment of a small licence transfer fee.

How easy will it be for me to adapt to Vectric products?

+

Our experience with lots of users moving to Vectric products over many years is that the changeover has been pretty simple. The Vectric drawing tools are similar in style to the ArtCAM tools with the same approach to drawing Bezier curves, node editing, trimming etc. The modelling tools and type of model used are also conceptually similar in many ways. We encourage all potential users to download the trial versions of the Vectric products they are interested in and work through the free training videos we provide to make sure they will be able to succeed with our products. As Vectric was started over 11 years ago with the express aim of being able to sell CAD/CAM software directly to end users, ease of use has been critical to our success.

Will I be able to use my existing files?

+

Although we can’t open a .art file directly, – we can import both 2D and 3D data exported from ArtCAM

  1. 2D Data - Cut2D, VCarve and Aspire can import vector data exported from ArtCAM (eg. DXF or EPS)
  2. 3D Data - VCarve and Aspire are able to import ArtCAM 3D relief files (.rlf)

Note:
VCarve can import a single .rlf file per session 
Aspire can import multiple .rlf files per session
As per current versions of ArtCAM, the .rlf files need to be exported out as V9 compatible files.

Will I have to pay maintenance?

+

No, there is no yearly maintenance fee and there never will be.

Am I entitled to free support?

+

Yes – Vectric have a dedicated support team (email & telephone) to address any technical issues eg. post-processors.
In addition the vibrant Vectric forum at forum.vectric.com is an excellent resource for gaining knowledge from thousands of other Vectric users.

Am I entitled to free upgrades?

+

Any major release of the software released in the 12 months after you purchase the software is supplied free of charge. 

Minor updates are always free to anyone who has the same major version (e.g V10.5 would be free to all owners of V10 no matter how long they had owned the software).

After the 12 month ownership period, you would need to purchase an upgrade if you felt the new features justified the upgrade for you.

When there is a new release do I have to upgrade?

+

No – you do not have to upgrade. 

If a new version is released within the first 12 months of ownership, you get the upgrade for free.  Customers outside of this period can evaluate the new features (with the free trial download) and decide if they want to pay to upgrade or not.  

For the cost to upgrade please click here and choose the product you are looking to upgrade.

If I don’t upgrade for say 5 years then chose to upgrade what will it cost?

+

If you chose not to upgrade for several years, unlike many software companies, we do not ask for back-payments, you just pay the standard upgrade cost for your specific program and this will enable you to jump to the latest release. For example whether you are upgrading from version 4 to version 10 or from version 8 to version 10 you will pay the same price.

For the cost to upgrade please click here and choose the product you are looking to upgrade.

If I want to upgrade to another product what would it cost?

+

You just pay the difference in price between the two products. Vectric do not penalise a customer if they want to start with one of our cheaper versions and later upgrade to a more full featured version. We actively encourage our customers to start cautiously and upgrade when they are ready.

For the cost to upgrade please click here and choose the product you are looking to upgrade.

Will I have to use a dongle or hardware key?

+

No – all your need is a licence code. This is automatically issued when you purchase the software online.

How many computers can I use the software on?

+

Vectric's license allows any of our software programs to be installed on up to 3 PC's for a single user.

If access to any one of the computers is shared with work colleagues, or anyone who is likely to access the software, then the software must only be installed onto one computer.

We have many users who have the software installed on their main design pc, the computer attached to their CNC and a laptop. As long as these three systems are only used by the same single user, this is completely legal.

What are the limitations of the Free Trials?

+

The Trial Versions will let you use all functions within the software with the exception of saving the toolpaths and performing some Export functions.

The Pro Versions of the Trials also do not allow you to use additional Gadgets.

There are a collection of special "trial version specific" files made available for each program that are setup so you can save the toolpaths from them and verify compatibility with your CNC machine by actually machining the samples.

Do you have an educational license for Vectric Software?

+

Our educational classroom license is designed to be used in a single classroom environment where up to 40 pupils need to get access to use the software as well as the tutor. The price of a multi-user educational license is the same as a standard single user license. You can find all of our product pricing here.

The terms for an educational license are as follows:

  • Can be installed on up to 40 computers in one single classroom.
  • Cannot be installed on students individual or personal laptops.
  • Can be installed on one teachers laptop, which may be used outside of the classroom.
  • License must be registered to an individual school rather than a school district.
  • License must be registered using an email address belonging to the school or university.
  • An educational classroom license is non-transferable.

For more information on our educational license click here.

Vectric License Transfer Policy

+

Can I transfer my Vectric software?

Unlike the vast majority of software companies, Vectric does allow the original purchaser of a software licence to transfer it under certain circumstances, and subject to a licence transfer fee. However this is NOT an unrestricted right of transfer, and Vectric reserve the right to refuse to transfer the licence, at its sole discretion, if it reasonably believes there is evidence of the license conditions having been broken. If you upgrade a product from say Version 4.0 to Version 5.0, you no longer have a valid licence for V4.0 and so the licence for the older version obviously cannot be transferred.

Software licence purchased directly from Vectric or an authorised Vectric partner

If you have purchased a single user license directly from Vectric or one of our authorised partners, we would usually allow you to transfer the single user license to another individual or company, subject to the licence conditions having been adhered to and the payment of a licence transfer fee (currently $50).

You cannot transfer a license that you have not directly purchased (i.e. one that has been transferred to you, from a previous licence holder). The original purchaser of the software licence can transfer it once, but subsequent owners cannot.

If you upgrade a product to a more expensive one, you cannot subsequently transfer the initial product licence. e.g. if you upgrade VCarve Pro to Aspire, the VCarve Pro licence has been 'traded in' against the Aspire licence and you no longer have a licence for VCarve Pro.

Software licence transferred from a previous original owner

If you have obtained a licence from a previous original owner, you cannot subsequently transfer that licence to a new owner, unless the software licence was originally bundled with a machine, and you are transferring the machine along with the licence (see section below for this case). The transfer rights for the software are only available to the original purchaser of the software from Vectric or one of our authorised partners. If you are planning to buy a 'used' licence of Vectric software from somebody, it is essential that you contact Vectric first via sales@vectric.com to ensure that the licence in question can be transferred.

Software licence originally bundled with a machine tool

If you received Vectric software bundled with a machine tool from an approved Vectric partner, you may transfer the software along with that machine tool, providing that you have not used the license to upgrade to a different product. This applies even if you are not the original purchaser of the machine.

If you have upgraded the software, the upgraded product would need to be transferred along with the original media supplied with the machine. You do NOT have to transfer the software licence when you sell the machine, but the new owner of the machine will need to purchase their own copy of the software if they wish to use it in this case.

Educational Software Licence

Educational classroom licenses cannot be transferred.

Please email details of any license transfer requests to sales@vectric.com

What are Gadgets?

+

A Gadget is an external add-in program that performs a specific task. New Gadgets are simply copied to the "Gadgets" folder (one of the Application Data Folders) and when the program is restarted, they will be available from the Gadgets menu.

The program is shipped with a number of Gadgets and more may be made available from the Vectric web site over time.

Click here to find more information about Gadgets.

Take a look at the most frequently asked questions by our customers

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

General Questions

What are the limitations of the "Trial Versions"?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve, Trial Version

The Trial Versions will let you use all functions within the software except for saving the toolpaths and performing some export functions.

The Pro Versions of the trials also do not allow you to use additional Gadgets.

There are a collection of special free trial projects and files made available for each program that are setup so you can save the toolpaths from them and verify compatibility with your CNC machine by actually machining the free trial projects. There free trial projects can be found here.

PhotoVCarve can work with any photo image however restricts the toolpath output by applying a watermark to all images.

What are the minimum requirements for my PC to run Vectric software?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve, Trial Version

The Aspire, VCarve, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve and Cut2D software products will all run on virtually all home PC's and do not require any special hardware or graphics card.

Aspire, VCarve Pro/Desktop and Cut2D Pro/Desktop software is 64Bit and will work on 64bit Operating systems.

Cut3D and PhotoVCarve software is 32bit and will work on both 32bit and 64bit Operating systems.

Vectric software does not support Windows 8RT as this is not a full edition of Windows.

To see a full list of minimum requirements, head over to our system requirements page here.

How many computers can I install my Vectric software on?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

Vectric's license allows any of our software programs to be installed on up to 3 PC's for a single user.

If access to any one of the computers is shared with work colleagues, or anyone who is likely
to access the software, then the software must only be installed onto one computer.

Trial Version:

Each program comes with an assortment of sample files. You can open these in the trial version; adjust the toolpaths for your machine and save them with the correct post processor. Then, with these toolpaths you can cut the sample files on your machine to be sure it is compatible.

Once you have successfully cut the sample files at your machine, you can explore and create other designs in the trial version and see the results in the toolpath preview, having assurance that it would machine successfully on your CNC.

Do you have educational pricing for Vectric Software?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve, Trial Version

Our educational classroom license is designed to be used in a single classroom environment where up to 40 pupils need to get access to use the software as well as the tutor. The price of a multi-user educational license is the same as a standard single user license. You can find all of our product pricing here.

The terms for an educational license are as follows:

  • Can be installed on up to 40 computers in one single classroom.
  • Cannot be installed on students individual or personal laptops.
  • Can be installed on one teacher’s laptop, which may be used outside of the classroom.
  • License must be registered to an individual school rather than a school district.
  • License must be registered using an email address belonging to the school or university.
  • An educational classroom license is non-transferable.

For more information on our educational license click here.

Why do I receive an error opening recent files?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

If you receive a warning like this:
e.g. File Missing
 

Does not exist file error message


The file you are trying to open has either been deleted or moved to another location on your computer.

Click OK, and use "Open an existing file" to manually locate your file.

Why do I get “An unknown error occurred while accessing an unnamed file”?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

Errors when saving across a network is likely caused by minor faults in a network connection.

It is more reliable to work from the local drive, and less likely to result in lost or corrupted files.

Should you encounter this error when saving, save your projects to a local destination and then back them up to your network accessed storage once completed.

Where is the Vectric Files folder?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10, the Vectric Files folder is most easily located using the Documents item under Libraries in Windows Explorer. Following the default installation, the precise path to this folder is: C:\Users\Public\Documents\Vectric Files

In Windows XP, the same folder is typically found in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Vectric Files

Where do I look to find the Tool Database on my PC?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Start the program and use File > Open Application Data Folder. This will open a new window showing all the program's support folders. Select the Tool Database folder to find the Tool Database file.

Vectric tool database location

Where do I look to find the Post Processors folder on my PC?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Start the program and use File > Open Application Data Folder. This will open a new window showing all the program's support folders. Select the Post Processor folder to find the Post Processors.

Post processor folder

Where do I look to find the Gadgets folder on my PC?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve Pro

Start the program and use File > Open Application Data Folder. This will open a new window showing all the program's support folders. Select the Gadgets folder to find the Gadgets.

Vectric Gadgets Folder

What is the difference between Updates and Upgrades?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D

Each version of the software comes with a Version Number.

For example: VCarve Desktop v10.012

In this example, VCarve Desktop is major version 10 and minor version 0. The following 2 numbers then give it as patch number.

When you do a software upgrade, you are doing a transfer from one major version of the software, to another major version of software. These upgrades are almost always done via the Vectric Upgrade Page, or via an email notification to your registered email address.

For example: This could Upgrade VCarve Desktop v10 to: -
Aspire v10.5 or higher when released
VCarve Pro v10.5 or higher when released
VCarve Desktop v10.5 or higher when released

When you do a software update, you are updating the minor software version and the patch number.

Currently all Vectric customers can download the latest minor version update for the major version they own.

For example: -
Aspire v10.007 -> Updates to Aspire v10.012
VCarve Pro 7.0 -> Updates to VCarve Pro 7.514

All Software updates and patches can be downloaded within the software by going to Help Menu -> Check For Updates. This will begin the download of the latest available updates for your software and will require an internet connection. For manual patching visit the software updates page to download your patch. If a manual patch does not automatically find the software version when used, it is likely that you do not have the correct update for your major version.

Summary:

Major version releases include new major features for the software, such as new tools and important features. These are usually paid upgrades.

Minor version releases include some smaller new features or adjust existing features to make them easier to use. These are usually free updates.

Patch releases include minor tweaks and fixes to ensure existing features work as intended. These are always free updates.

What is the difference between the Help Contents and Reference Manual?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

The Help Contents can be opened using Help > Help Contents from the main menu bar. It is setup to be context sensitive so you can click on an icon or screen area and it will take you to that section. In addition, you can also use Ctrl-F to open a search window.

The Reference Manual contains the same information but is setup to be printed should one want a version to place in a binder. It is a large document and can be taken to a commercial print shop if desired.

The reference manual can be found by clicking Single Page on the top menu bar of the documentation.

The User Guide contains higher level descriptions of workflow. It can be found by clicking User Guide on the top menu bar of the documentation.

What are Gadgets?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve Pro

A Gadget is an external add-in program that performs a specific task. New Gadgets are simply copied to the "Gadgets" folder (one of the Application Data Folders) and when the program is restarted, they will be available from the Gadgets menu.

The program is shipped with several Gadgets and more may be made available from the Vectric web site over time.

Click here to find more information about Gadgets.

Vectric License Transfer Policy?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

Can I transfer my Vectric software?

Unlike most software companies, Vectric does allow the original purchaser of a software licence to transfer it under certain circumstances, and subject to a licence transfer fee. However, this is NOT an unrestricted right of transfer, and Vectric reserve the right to refuse to transfer the licence, at its sole discretion, if it reasonably believes there is evidence of the license conditions having been broken. If you upgrade a product from say version 9.0 to version 10.0, you no longer have a valid licence for V9.0 and so the licence for the older version obviously cannot be transferred.

Software licence purchased directly from Vectric or an authorised Vectric partner

If you have purchased a single user license directly from Vectric or one of our authorised partners, we would usually allow you to transfer the single user license to another individual or company, subject to the licence conditions having been adhered to and the payment of a licence transfer fee (currently $50).

You cannot transfer a license that you have not directly purchased (i.e. one that has been transferred to you, from a previous licence holder). The original purchaser of the software licence can transfer it once, but subsequent owners cannot.

If you upgrade a product to a more expensive one, you cannot subsequently transfer the initial product licence. e.g. if you upgrade VCarve Pro to Aspire, the VCarve Pro licence has been 'traded in' against the Aspire licence and you no longer have a licence for VCarve Pro.

Software licence transferred from a previous original owner

If you have obtained a licence from a previous original owner, you cannot subsequently transfer that licence to a new owner, unless the software licence was originally bundled with a machine, and you are transferring the machine along with the licence (see section below for this case). The transfer rights for the software are only available to the original purchaser of the software from Vectric or one of our authorised partners. If you are planning to buy a 'used' licence of Vectric software from somebody, it is essential that you contact Vectric first via sales@vectric.com to ensure that the licence in question can be transferred.

Software licence originally bundled with a machine tool

If you received Vectric software bundled with a machine tool from an approved Vectric partner, you may transfer the software along with that machine tool, providing that you have not used the license to upgrade to a different product. This applies even if you are not the original purchaser of the machine.

If you have upgraded the software, the upgraded product would need to be transferred along with the original media supplied with the machine. You do NOT have to transfer the software licence when you sell the machine, but the new owner of the machine will need to purchase their own copy of the software if they wish to use it in this case.

Educational Software Licence

Educational classroom licenses cannot be transferred.

Please email details of any license transfer requests to sales@vectric.com

I Need to Email Support?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

If you ever require help with your project, in particular any project that involves issues with your toolpaths and generating toolpaths we will need to see the original project files to be able to give accurate advice.

When preparing to email support@Vectric.com to request assistance, please check the following points.

  • Make sure you list the exact name of the Post Processor you are using to create your toolpaths. There are many Post Processors with similar names, and they can often be mistaken for each other.
  • Once you have created your toolpaths, save a copy of your project to send to us. It can be very helpful if we can see your toolpaths exactly as you created them in the project.
  • If you are having trouble with a particular toolpath and its cutting results, send the Gcode file you have generated along with your project.
  • If you are experiencing a crash with the software, and can replicate it, save a copy of the project right before the crash and detail the steps you take to make it crash. This will provide the steps we need to fault find the cause of the issue.

It can help to compress (ZIP) your files. This will make them smaller to send via email, meaning you will spend less time uploading them.

Lastly, always send your support requests from the email address you registered your software from. This will reduce any delay while we confirm your registration.

How do I Uninstall Vectric Software?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve, Trial Version

This Article applies to all Vectric products and versions.

On installation, all Vectric products will create a listing in the Windows programs and features control panel applet ('Add or Remove Programs' in older versions of Windows).

Windows 8, 8.1 or 10

1.Open the Windows start menu (Windows key). From the "Start" screen, start typing "Control Panel" (the search should autofill after a few characters).

2. Click on "Control Panel" from the Apps search results, in the opened "Control Panel" window, select "Programs and Features"

3. In the "Programs and Features" window, you will see the Vectric product listed amongst the other applications installed on your computer. Select the Vectric application that you wish to uninstall and click on the "Uninstall" button.

Windows Vista or 7

1.Open the Windows Start menu (Windows Key). From the "Start" click on "Control Panel"

2. Depending on your view options click either on "Uninstall a program" or "Programs and Features"

3. In the "Programs and Features" window, you will see the Vectric product listed amongst the other applications installed on your computer. Select the Vectric application that you wish to uninstall and click on the "Uninstall" button.

Windows XP

1.Open the Windows Start menu (Windows Key). From the "Start" screen, click on "Settings" then click on "Control Panel".

2. In the Control Panel window click on the "Add or Remove Programs" applet.

3. In the "Add or Remove Programs" window you will see the Vectric product listed amongst the other applications installed on your computer. Select the Vectric application that you wish to uninstall and click on the "Change/Remove" button.

How do I find which version of the software I am running?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

From the Main Menu Bar along the top of the screen, select Help > About <program name> where <program name> is the program you are using.

E.g. VCarve Pro

Version of software running

A window will open that shows the exact version you are using. To see what the latest version of software just go to the program updates page here.

How do I find and install updates?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

From the Main Menu Bar along the top of the screen, select Help > Check for Updates.
If this tells you an update is available, follow the prompts and it will download and install the update automatically.


e.g. VCarve Pro

Check for updates
 
For Vectric customer portal customers, you can also download the latest versions from the customer portal.

How do I download my free Clipart?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

This information is for the following software:

  • Aspire v8.0 and higher
  • VCarve Pro v8.0 and higher
  • VCarve Desktop v8.0 and higher

New Version 8.0 and higher sales of Aspire and VCarve Pro/Desktop come with a collection of free Clipart files to use in these versions of the software. Due to their size they are not included with the main software download.

To access them you can log into your Vectric Portal account and click on the "View Downloads" for your software. This will load a page with your software download and licence details, and when you scroll down the page you will see all your Clipart links to download from.

Some of these are large downloads (more then 200MB) and will take some time to download depending on your internet connection.

How do I add new material image files to the available list?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

From Aspire 4 / VCarve Pro 7 onwards you can add new images to the Material Images folder in your Vectric Files folder.

In Aspire 3.5 / VCarve Pro 6.5 or earlier you will need start the program and use File > Open Application Data Folder. This will open a new window showing all the program's support folders. You can add new material image files to the Bitmap Textures folder.

You will need to restart the software for your new image files to appear in the material drop-down lists.

Open application data folder

Dropbox and File Sharing Folders

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

While Dropbox and other file sharing distribution methods are helpful for sending project files between friends and colleagues, for best practices we recommend having a local folder on your hard drive to save your .CRV and .CRV3D Project files from Aspire/VCarve/Cut2D, before then copying them from this folder into the special Dropbox (or other Shared) folder.

This is because with the way file sharing works, if a friend or colleague accesses your file when you go to save (Or the system syncs the file at that time) then it can lead to file corruption and lost data.

Saving the project file directly to your local hard drive prevents this from happening and allows you to copy and paste the correctly saved file to your shared folder then safely.

This has the added advantage that is someone edits your shared file; you can still access the original saved on your local computer if required.

Double Clicking loads older version

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

After updating to a new version, files (.crv / .crv3d) still open in the older version when double clicked.

This is an issue caused in Windows as it is conflicted as to which version of a program it is meant to call when the user double clicks a file (.crv / .crv3d).

This because an issue usually after upgrading from a previous major version (e.g. VCarve Pro v7.5) to a newer version (e.g. VCarve Pro v8.5) and is usually due to not uninstalling the older version first.

Windows fails to correctly update the Windows Registry keys to open the newer version when requested and so to correct this, a couple of steps need to be taken manually.
I.    Uninstall the previous version. (Be sure to back up any custom Post Processors or tool database settings first if you have not already transferred them to the new version)
II.    Reinstall the New version.

Now check to see if this has managed to correct the issue in Windows by double clicking one of your .crv /. crv3d files. This should allow the New Version to overwrite the effected Registry keys now that the original versions software is no longer installed.

This reinstallation must be done with a computer account that has full write accesses rights to the Windows Registry.

Can Vectric software use CarveWright's PTN (pattern) files?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, Cut3D

No, not directly. The PTN format is a copy-protected proprietary format developed exclusively for use with CarveWright machines.

However, any PTN (pattern) you create yourself in the CarveWright Software can be exported as STL if you own the CarveWright Pattern Editor and STL Importer software. The STL version of a PTN can easily be imported into the Aspire and/or Cut3D software.

Additionally, if you create relief scans using the CarveWright Scanning Probe, the scans can also be saved as STL (again, provided you own the CarveWright STL Importer...the Pattern Editor software is included with the CarveWright Scanning Probe). More information can be found by contacting CarveWright.

Can Vectric software run the CarveWright machine?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

None of the Vectric products can directly run the CarveWright machine. However, Aspire can be used to create and export 3D Models in STL format, which can then be imported into the CarveWright software using their optional 'STL Importer'. Additionally, a 3D model may be saved from Aspire as a grayscale height-map image that can then be opened into the CarveWright software, which will automatically recognize the grayscale as a carvable relief model.

In addition, you can export vector drawings as DXF format, which can be imported into the CarveWright software via their optional 'DXF Importer.' You can find more information on the STL and DXF Importers on the CarveWright website.

Can I open files created in the Trial Version in the full version?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve, Trial

Yes, but only on the same computer that the trial version was installed on.

Once you have opened the files in the release version and resaved them, you can then open them on any computer running the program.

If you do have files that were created in the trial version that you need to keep and use, it is a good idea to open and save them as soon as possible after installing the release version as any problems or hardware changes to the PC could prevent the program from opening those files from the trial version.

How can I tell if Vectric Software will run with my CNC machine?

+

SOFTWARE: Trial

Each program comes with an assortment of sample files and free trial projects. You can open these in the trial version; adjust the toolpaths for your machine and save them with the correct post processor. Then, with these toolpaths you can cut the sample files on your machine to be sure it is compatible.

Once you have successfully cut the sample files at your machine, you can explore and create other designs in the trial version and see the results in the toolpath preview, having assurance that it would machine successfully at your CNC.

What is the expiry date for the Trial Version?

+

SOFTWARE: Trial

There is no time limit for your use of the trial versions.

However, to ensure the latest changes are included in the trial version available for download, they do have an expiration date and you may see a message that the trial version you have installed has expired. If this happens, simply download, and install the latest trial version from the website.

Can I activate my Trial Version into the Full Version of the software?

+

SOFTWARE: Trial

No, you cannot activate a trial version.

When you purchase the program, you will receive an email with detailed instructions and a download link for the full version of the software. Follow these instructions and you should have the full version installed and running quickly.

How can I open a file from Cut3D or PhotoVCarve in Aspire, VCarve or Cut2D?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

Yes, Aspire, VCarve Pro/Desktop and Cut2D Pro/Desktop have the ability to import the toolpaths that have been created in Cut3D (.v3d), Design & Make (.v3m) and PhotoVCarve (.pvc). Once imported, the toolpaths can be used as part of the design in larger projects.

Note: While Aspire is capable of almost all operations the other programs can perform, the ability to import toolpaths from these programs was included to provide flexibility between users.
Here is an overview on how you would do this:

  • You first need to setup and create the toolpaths in Cut3D, 3D Machinist (limited to .v3m file format) or PhotoVCarve and save the file.
  • Then in Aspire, VCarve Pro or Cut2D you would use the command File > Import > Import PhotoVCarve or Cut3D toolpaths.
  • Once imported you can use the visible grayscale of the image and position it where you want for the project's design. The program will then automatically provide an offset to ensure that is where the toolpaths will machine in your project.

Note: Some tutorial material is written for Design & Make's free 3D Machinist program. The steps for Cut3D would be identical.

How do I test if the software is compatible with my CNC Setup?

+

SOFTWARE: Trial

When purchasing new software for your CNC machine it is vitally important to test that it is fully compatible before purchase. This applies to all Vectric software when purchasing for the first time.

To test if your CNC setup is compatible with our software, you will need to first download the trial edition for the software of your choice.

Vectric software is inter compatible and all use the same Post Processor files (except Cut3D and PhotoVCarve) so if one product is compatible then the other software options will also be compatible.

Is Cut3D suitable for pocketing and drilling?

+

SOFTWARE: Cut3D

No, Cut3D is specifically intended to carve (toolpath) 3D Designs created in a 3D modeling program and can create three types of toolpaths to support this:

  • 3D Roughing to quickly remove the bulk of the waste material from a 3D Model.
  • 3D Finishing to create a smooth carved surface that follows the 3D Model.
  • Cut-out to allow the finished carving to be cut-out with a smooth outer edge.

However, these toolpaths can be saved directly from Cut3D using the appropriate Post Processer for your CNC machine or they can be imported into Aspire, VCarve Pro or Cut2D and combined with pocketing and drilling toolpaths in those programs.

Frequently asked questions on 2D Design Vectors and Images

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

2D Design Vectors and Images

How can I change the Job / Material Size?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

The material size for a job can be changed at any time by selecting Edit > Job Size and Position to open the Job Setup form.

The units, width, height, thickness, and Z origin can all be changed on this form.

  • The origin for the job can be specified to be any of the four corners or the middle of the job, and an offset distance can be entered to move the selected origin by the required X and Y distance.
  • Checking center vectors in material will automatically reposition the vector design central to the new material size.
  • Important: If the Z origin is moved, all calculated toolpaths MUST be recalculated.

We recommend that you always recalculate toolpaths whenever the material has been changed. This will ensure the toolpaths cut correctly on the CNC machine. This can be done very quickly in Aspire and VCarve Pro by using the Recalculate All Toolpaths icon in the toolpath tab.

e.g. VCarve Pro

Job size and position

Will the Vectric programs allow mathematical equations to be calculated?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Where appropriate, numerical edit boxes support simple math calculations.

Instead of working out a value, you enter an expression directly into the edit box using Special Calculation Characters as needed and then press the '=' (equal) key. As soon as the ‘=’ key is pressed, the program will evaluate the expression and fill the edit box with the results.

Why group vectors?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

The ability to group vectors is a big advantage for the user. Grouping takes two or more vectors and creates a single object (group) that can be moved around and manipulated without the individual vectors changing their position relative to each other. At any time, grouped vectors can be ungrouped to allow changes to be made.

In the Move Objects tool what's the difference Absolute and Relative modes?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Absolute mode will move a vector or component using the drawing coordinates. For example, you have a circle with its center at X = 3, Y = 7.5 and you want to move it to X = 6, Y = 4. Select the circle and press M, the shortcut key for the Move Selected Objects tool, then select Absolute and the center anchor point. Change the value in the X input box to 6, the value in the Y input box to 4 and select apply to perform the move.

Absolute move selected object

Relative mode will move a vector or component from its current position by the number of units entered in the X and Y input boxes. Using the above example, you would select Relative and enter +3 in the X input box, -3.5 in the Y input box, then select apply to perform the move.

Note: An anchor point is not required in Relative mode as the entire shape will move the same number of units in X and Y based on its original position.

Relative move selected objects

What vector file formats can I import?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

You can open or import files that have been saved in the following formats by using either File > Import > Import Vectors OR the Import Vectors from a file icon.

DXF – Drawing Exchange Files from CAD systems
EPS – Encapsulated Postscript from Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw etc.
AI – Adobe Illustrator
PDF – Portable Document Format for industry standard print data
SKP – Sketchup models
DWG – Drawing file from CAD applications

If the designs are being prepared with software such as Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator we recommend that you convert the vector geometry and text to curves and switch off all patterns or colour fills before exporting, preferably as an EPS file.

Note: .SKP files can only be imported to Aspire, VCarve and Cut2D V8.0 (Pro and Desktop) and higher.

What to the different line colors mean?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

The different line colors and what they mean.

Different coloured lines

Here we have 4 different lines.

A basic guide to line colors

  • The top two lines are grouped together and selected. Grouped together vectors appear as solid purple lines while selected and clicking on one of the vectors in a group it will select the whole group.
  • The Third line is a normal selected vector. When ungrouped vectors are selected, they become purple dashed lines.
  • The Forth line is a normal unselected Vector. This is the color all unselected vectors are by default. This colour is defined by the layer color however:

Different coloured lines menu

Here you see the layer colour as green and all unselected vectors will appear as green lines.

How are Ungroup to original layer and Ungroup onto groups layer different?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Vectors remember what layer they were originally created on, even after being grouped. If you need to ungroup them, you have two options.

  • Ungroup back to original objects layer: after ungrouping, the vectors will return to the layer they were created on.
  • Ungroup onto groups layer: after ungrouping the vectors will stay on the current active layer.

 

What is an open or closed vector?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Vectors can be open or closed.

  • An open vector is a vector that does not join back with itself and the easiest example to visualize is a line.
  • A closed vector is one that joins with itself to form a shape with good examples being a circle or rectangle.

Sometimes you can have what looks to be a closed vector but is in fact an open vector. This can cause problems when setting up toolpaths, as some toolpaths treat open vectors different from closed vectors.

There are two quick ways to find whether a vector shape is open or closed.

  1. You can use Edit > Select All Open Vectors and see which ungrouped vectors become highlighted OR
  2. Select the vectors you want to check and use the Join Open Vectors tool. This tool will tell you how many of the selected vectors are open and how many are closed.

What is a node and how do I use them?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

One of the fundamental building blocks in the program are vectors. Vectors are two or more nodes joined by lines, Bezier curves, arcs, or a combination of these.  The position of the nodes, whether they are smooth or not and the position and strength of their associated control points will dictate the path (shape) that the vector follows between nodes.

You can see and use nodes after selecting a vector and pressing N to enter Node Editing mode. Node Editing is a very powerful feature, allowing the user to precisely modify a drawing, troubleshoot problems with vectors, and help setup some types of toolpaths.

What fonts come with the program?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

There are 23 single line fonts included with the program. They can be viewed and selected by using the single line option in the Create Text tool.

Fonts list

The program also supports True Type and Open Type fonts and uses the fonts installed in the Windows Font directory on your PC.

What are the Special Calculation Characters?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

In addition to performing calculations using numbers with standard math operators (+,-,*,/,^, etc.), the program recognizes several Special Calculation Characters to simplify common operations. These are shown in the table below with examples of how they are applied.

Special calculation characters

What are the Node Editing Short-cut Keys?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Node Editing is a very powerful feature to assist you when working with vectors. You enter Node Editing mode by selecting the vector you want to node edit and then either pressing N, the shortcut key OR using the Node Editing icon.

Here is a summary of the Node Editing Shortcut keys:

Node editing shortcut keys

What are the Keyboard Short-cut Keys?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D has a complete set of Shortcut keys you can find these near the end of the Help Contents or Reference Manual. You can also find a link to them under the Help menu in the software.

What are some problems and solutions for importing DXF files?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

When importing DXF files in from other CAD systems, such as AutoCAD, TurboCAD, Rhino, etc., the files will be opened in the original size and position.

Problem - Vectors did not import correctly

DXF files from other CAD systems may often appear as individual lines and arcs after being imported and cannot be v-carved or pocketed between unless the vectors are joined using the tools supplied within Vectric products.

These lines can be profile machined using a profile-on toolpath, but the individual vectors will machine separately which may result in very jerky machine movements and slow machining times.

Solution - Join the Open Vectors

Use the Join Open Vectors tool to join the lines and arcs together so they can be machined more efficiently. The Join Open Vectors tool is started using this icon and can be found within the Edit Objects section of the Drawing Tools of Cut2D, VCarve Pro and Aspire.

In addition, Aspire and VCarve Pro have the ability to convert vectors into all lines, all Bezier curve or all arcs using the Fit Curves to Selected Vectors tool   which can greatly improve cut quality on some machines.

Problem - DXF file fails to import

If a DXF file fails to import, it may be due to the DXF version or the DXF file contains entities that Vectric software does not support.

Solution - Export in another format

If this is the case, try exporting the file again from the original CAD system in AutoCAD R12 or R14 format as these tend to be more compatible. The ability to export in older versions is normally offered by all major CAD systems. If needed, please consult your CAD application documentation for full details on exporting vectors.

Problem - Imported vectors do not contain original Bezier curves

The DXF format does not support Bezier curves, and can only save arc curves and straight lines.

Solution - Export in another format

In your original application, use a different format to save your vectors, such as Ai or EPS. Alternatively, modify your design before saving to convert the Bezier curves to lines and arcs, which will export correctly in a DXF file.

Special Characters - Draw Text?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Windows has support for a multitude of characters not seen on the Keyboard.

e.g. ¢¥½Ώ

In Vectric software that has support for drawing text, you can use the Windows character map to copy and paste these special characters into the text editor to use them in your designs.

You can also use the ALT+ combination to type these fonts, and the combinations for each character can be found in the Windows character map.

You must also have selected a font that has support for these special characters. If you select a font that does not have support for these characters they will appear as a blank box, or some other generic symbol. There are too many variations on the Windows fonts to list the supported types here.

How do you determine which side of an open vector is the right or left?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Select the vector and press N, the short-cut key for Node Editing. The small green square at one end of the vector is called the Start Point. If you start at the Start Point and follow the vector toward the node at the other end, the right side is on the right, the left side on the left. It may also help to visualize walking along the vector from the green Start Point to the other end.
 

e.g. Right-hand side

Open Vector Side

 

How do I display all the alignment icons on the Drawing Tab?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

By default, VCarve 7.0, Aspire 4.0 and higher will display a single icon to access the alignment Icons. If you want to display more alignment icons on the Drawing Tab you can check the option at the bottom of the alignment icons form which says "Show common tools on drawing tab" - as shown in the image. Checking this will add a section of icons to the Drawing Tab containing the major alignment options. If you have limited screen area you can uncheck this option to return to the default behaviour.

Alignment Icons

Can a drawing have both metric and imperial measurements?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

First, setup your project for the units you want (inches or mm). Then, when you are provided a measurement using the other units, you can use the program's ability to evaluate mathematical expressions in the data input boxes to quickly convert the measurement to the needed units.

  • To input a measurement given in inches to its metric equivalent, you would enter the inch value in the data input box, followed by '*m=' (without the quotes). For example, to enter 3 inches in mm, in the data input box you would type '3*m=', again without the quotes. As soon as you press the '=' key, the input value will change to the metric equivalent of 76.2 mm.
  • To input a measurement given in mm to its imperial equivalent, enter the mm value in the data input box followed by '*i=' (without the quotes). For example, to enter 130 mm in inches you would type '130*i=' in the data input box, again without the quotes. As soon as the '=' key is pressed, the input value will change to the imperial equivalent of 5.1181 inches.

How can I import the image if my PDF does not contain vector information?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

PDF files can contain vector information, bitmap information or a combination of both. If you cannot successfully import a PDF file and get a message that it only contains bitmap data, your only option is to convert it to an image format the program can import using one of the following methods:

  • The quickest and easiest way is to open the image in a viewer (depending on your PC, double clicking on the file name will normally open the image in an  installed program), then use print screen or some other type of screen capture program to capture the image and save in a format that can be imported.
  • You may have another program installed on your PC that will open the PDF image and allow you to export or 'Save As' in a format that can be imported successfully.

How can I close an open vector?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

If you have multiple open vectors you want to close, the easiest approach is to use the Join open vectors tool. This very powerful tool will show you how many open vectors are currently selected and how many will be closed using the current Tolerance setting once you select Join.

Note: Your design may have open vectors as part of its design, such as lines. Keep this in mind as you work to join only the open vectors that need to be joined.

The tolerance setting determines how close two vector ends must be for the Join open vectors tool to be able to join them. Sometimes you need to increase the tolerance setting until they will all close but be careful with larger values as vectors may join incorrectly. Be sure to check the vectors carefully after you select Join to verify the results. If the results are not what you want, select Edit > Undo to reverse the operation and enter a smaller tolerance value. Try to join as many as you can properly do with this tool, then use the next technique to join the remaining ones.

If you only have one vector to join, or a unique situation such as a very large gap, these three additional Join Tools may be a better approach. The tool names describe how the tool will fill the gap between the vector ends.

  • Join / Close vectors with a straight line  
  • Join / Close vectors with a smooth curve  
  • Join / Close vectors by moving end points to a common point 

How can I change the Start Point of a vector?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Select the vector and press N, the short-cut key for Node Editing.

If a node already exists where you want the Start Point to be, you can either hover the mouse pointer over it, right-click to open the Node Editing menu and select make start point OR hover the mouse pointer over the node and press P, the short-cut key to Make Start Point.

If a node does not exist where you want the Start Point to be, hover the point of the mouse cursor over the spot you want the Start Point to be and press the short-cut key P. This will create a new node at that spot and make it the Start Point, all in one operation.

Note: The Start Point on an open vector must be at one of its ends but can be anywhere on a closed vector.

How can I change text spacing (kerning)?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Space can be added or removed between text letters using the Edit Text Spacing and Curve tool.  

This is done by placing the cursor between the letters you wish to adjust the space for and using the keys shown below to change the distance (kerning):

  • Place the cursor between 2 letters and click the left mouse button to close the gap.
  • Holding the shift key and clicking the left mouse button moves the characters apart.
  • Holding the Ctrl key when kerning doubles the distance each letter moves on each click.
  • Holding the shift & Ctrl keys together and clicking the left mouse moves the letters closer together in larger increments.

How can I add more fonts?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Additional true type and open type fonts (.TTF) can be obtained from many sources and available to use once the font has been properly installed the Windows font directory and the program restarted.

This is not hard to do and typically if you right click on the font file, it will give you the option to install the font. If that option is not available, the exact process can be found in the help document for your version of Windows.

The included single line fonts are installed during the program's installation and cannot be changed or added to.

Do I need to use layers?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

No, you do not need to use Layers, but understanding and learning how to work with them can dramatically increase productivity and make complex jobs much easier to organize and work with.
Some examples where Layers can help you:

  • You can organize Layers by the toolpath that will be used, such as drilling, pocket, v-carve and cut out. Used in conjunction with toolpath templates and this becomes a very powerful production tool.
  • A different color can be assigned to each Layer, helping to visually organize a complex project in the 2D Design window.
  • Layers can be made visible or invisible, allowing a complex project to be worked on one portion at a time.
  • Layers provide a quick way to create backup copies. Select the vector(s) you want to backup, right-click and select Copy to Layer. Create a new Layer, call it backup or similar, and uncheck the box to make it invisible.
  • When you import a bitmap or vectors from another source, a special layer will be automatically created for this. After performing the operations, you need, those layers can be deleted or made invisible.

Can Vectric software run plasma/water jet machine tools?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Vectric software is designed specifically to be used with 3-Axis CNC machines and has not been optimized for use with a plasma or water jet machine, however some users have successfully used it to operate this type of equipment.

Aspire 4.0, VCarve 7.0 and higher include an option to add plasma loops onto acute corners of toolpaths.

We would recommend looking closely at the options available in the trial version of each program before specifically purchasing them for use with these types of machines. Another good source of information on how the software has been used successfully is to search the main Forum.

What image files can I work with for example bmp, tiff and jpeg?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

You can import the following file types into Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D (Pro/Desktop):

BMP – Windows Bitmap format

JPG, JPEG – Compressed format commonly used for digital photographs & websites

GIF – A common web format, usually with a limited number of colors

TIF, TIFF – A compressed format, including a 16-bit version

PNG – More recent format with a good range of properties

Once imported, you can use the Fit Vectors to Bitmap tool   to automatically trace the image or you can manually trace the image using the drawing tools.

Aspire also offers the ability to create a 3D component directly from a bitmap image using the Create a component from selected bitmap tool.

Can I use a Snap Grid or Guidelines to help me work with vectors?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Yes, Snap Grid and Guidelines can be very helpful when designing new projects.

Use Edit > Snap Options or the short-cut key F4 to open the Snap Options form and select the features you want.

You can find detailed information on each option setting in the Help Contents or Reference Manual.

Are there any shortcuts for controlling the view in the 2D Design window?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Yes, there are view control shortcuts available to help with adjusting the view in the 2D Design window, these can be found in the Help Contents or Reference Manual.

Frequently asked questions on 3D Design Components

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

3D Design Components

Can I import a 3D model into Aspire/VCarve from another software program?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

You first need to create a new job or already have a job open in the software to be able to import 3D files from another software program.

Use the Import a Component or 3D Model icon located on the modeling tab in the modeling tools section OR use File > Import >Import Component / 3D Model.

Both methods will allow you to browse your PC's folder system, and once you find a suitable file type, you can select it and click open. If it is compatible then it will be imported and added to the component list, with the component name will be derived from the file name (but can be renamed at any time).

Why does the edge of my 3D Component look very rough?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Aspire is a pixel-based modeling program, which means all 3D shapes are approximated by square "pixels" with each pixel assigned a height.

This approach was chosen for Aspire because it has several important advantages over other CAD model formats for doing low-relief, decorative type modeling which is the main focus for the 3D modeling tools in the software.

When you zoom in along any edge of a 3D model, these pixels become apparent. However, if the edge becomes too jagged or pixelated, the Model Resolution offers some control as the higher the Model Resolution setting, the smaller the pixel size will be for the same material size and the finer an edge can be approximated.

What is the Zero Plane?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire

The zero plane is required if you are creating a dish like model, that is primarily a concave design to be carved into your material.

Once you have created your design you need to add the zero plane model to make it easier to visualise your design.

To access the zero plane tool, go to the model menu -> add zero plane.

Zeri Plane

The software will automatically add the zero plain for you.

What is the Zero Plane in VCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: VCarve

The zero plane is required if you are creating a dish like model, that is primarily a concave design to be carved into your material.

Once you have created your design you need to add the zero plane model to make it easier to visualise your design.

To access the zero plane tool, go to the model menu -> add zero plane.

Zero plane VCarve

The software will automatically add the zero plane for you.

What is the difference between Grouping and Baking 3D Components?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Grouping multiple 3D components creates a single object that acts like a component for the purposes of certain editing functions and aids the user in organizing their design or simplifying the component List. Grouped components can later be ungrouped if needed which gives the benefit of being able to edit the individual constituents again.

Some functions such as cropping, smoothing, sculpting, etc. in Aspire and smoothing in VCarve will only work on a single component and not a group as the changes they make to the part would directly alter the relationship between each object and not allow it to be ungrouped again. As such, when you want to use one of these functions on multiple components they need to be combined permanently (Baked) into a single object. Baking creates a single component from multiple components and this process is not reversible (like grouping), so it’s good practice to create backup copies of each component before baking them if you think you may need the original again.

The software will prompt you if you choose an operation that requires the components you are working with to be Baked.

What is the 3dClip file format used for?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire

Aspire's 3DClip file format is one way of saving 3D components for use in other projects. To export a single component as a 3DClip file, select the component name in the component tree and right-click and use the option to export as 3D Clipart.

To export a group as a 3DClip file, select the group name in the component tree and right-click and use the option to export as 3D Clipart.

To export the contents of a level as a 3DClip file, select the level name in the component tree and right-click and use the option to export as 3D Clipart.

To export the composite model across several levels then use the Model option at the top and select export as 3D Clipart.

3D clip file export

To use the file in another project, you can import it or drag it from the 3D Clipart tab into the 2D or 3D Window.

One big advantage to using this format as described above is that the 3D components that were exported as a group will retain all of the group information – where you can ungroup and access the individual components in the group. If you import a 3DClip file that was exported as a level it will be imported as a group for you to ungroup and access the individual parts.

If you import a 3DClip file that was exported from the entire composite model across a number of levels, again you will see the levels as groups which can help you to reorganise your new file into levels – where you can ungroup the level group to access the individual parts.

What are the right settings for Model Resolution?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

There are many variables in play here and not one answer that fits all situations. But here are some thoughts and guidelines:

  • The more detailed the 3D project will be, the more model resolution may be required.
  • The larger the 3D project, the more model resolution may be required.
  • A good practice when creating a 3D model is to keep the material size just a little larger than the 3D model size. If this is not possible, such as when creating a curved moulding, a higher model resolution may be required.

There are also two available higher resolution modes, extremely high (20X slower) and maximum (50X slower) that are not normally visible. They can be made available in the model resolution pull-down menu by holding the shift key down before selecting Create a new file or Job Setup. These are provided to help with very unusual or unique situations and should be used with caution, as your computer performance will be degraded. For most users, the 3 normally available model resolution settings will cover every project.

We have also prepared a PDF document that explains Aspire's Model Structure in more technical terms. However, understanding this document is not required to get good results from Aspire. So, if reading this leaves you confused or you have trouble understanding all the technical aspects, do not get concerned and simply refer to the tutorials and information above.

What 3D file formats can I import into Aspire?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire

You can open or import files that have been saved in the following formats by using either File > Import > Import Component / 3D Model OR the Import a component or 3D model icon on the Modeling Tab.

3D Models

  • STL – CAD orientated 3D design packages and scanning systems
  • DXF – Many CAD systems – data must consist of meshes or triangles
  • 3DS – 3D Studio and many other animation-oriented packages
  • OBJ – Wavefront
  • SKP – SketchUp software files
  • V3M – Design & Make clipart models
  • 3DClip – Vectric Aspire clipart files
  • LWO – Lightwave 3D Object model
  • 3DM – Rhino 3D model
  • WRL – Netscape 3D live picture

What 3D file formats can I import into VCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: VCarve

You can open or import files that have been saved in the following formats by using either File > Import > Import Component / 3D Model OR the Import a component or 3D model icon on the Modeling Tab.  

3D Models

  • STL – CAD orientated 3D design packages and scanning systems
  • DXF – Many CAD systems – data must consist of meshes or triangles
  • 3DS – 3D Studio and many other animation-oriented packages
  • OBJ – Wavefront
  • SKP – SketchUp software files
  • V3M – Design & Make clipart models
  • LWO – Lightwave 3D Object model
  • 3DM – Rhino 3D model
  • WRL – Netscape 3D live picture

Organizing Clipart in Aspire and VCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

In addition to adding new clipart to the software, you can also organise the various folders in the clipart Tab from within the software itself.

With the library browser option open you can see that under the list of folders you have 2 options.

Remove Folder: This option will remove the last folder clicked on (Such as Clipart or Design&Make)

Add Folder: This option will open a Windows folder list for you to navigate through. Using this you can select any folder on your computer to add to your Library Folders.

Any Folder added will then list all the folders it contains and Clipart within those folders in the Library Browser ready to use within you Projects.

Clipart folders

Instead of the Library Browser, you also have the option to access your Local Files directly.

This can be useful if you have a clipart piece that is only going to be used once and you do not want to sort it into an existing Clipart folder.

Select the Local Files option and it will give you a full list of your computers folders. Navigate through the list to find the folder that contains your clipart and once clicked it will display the previews for your clipart below. You also have the option to right click the folders name and use the option Add Folder to Library.

This allows you to save this folder for next time should you wish to come back to it in the Library Browser.

Please note: The Add Folder to Library option and the Library browser are only available in Aspire and VCarve version 8.0 and higher, for Aspire v3.5 and v4.5 you will not have these options.

How can I open V3M files in Aspire or VCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Design & Make files (V3M) cannot be opened directly in Aspire or VCarve, neither can you set Windows up to automatically open the Vectric software using a V3M file from Windows Explorer.

V3M files must be imported using one of the following methods:

  • Use File > Import > Import Component / 3D Model
  • Use the Import a Component or 3D Model icon   on the Modeling Tab
  • Drag and Drop the thumbnail of the 3D Model from the 3D Clipart tab into the 2D or 3D view
  • Drag and Drop the thumbnail of the 3D model from the Windows folder into the 2D or 3D view of the software

How can I export the 3D model from Aspire?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire

If you want to export a 3D model in STL format so it can be opened in other programs, select all the 3D components you want to include and use Model > Export as STL.

Some programs, such as CarveWright's, can process a Grayscale Bitmap as a 3D relief model. You can export a 3D model as a Grayscale Bitmap by using Model > Export as Grayscale Bitmap.

Two other options exist for creating files for other Aspire users. You can save the Aspire file as a normal .crv3d file OR group together all the 3D components that you want to include and right-click on the component name in the Component List, then select Export as 3D Clipart.

Component Properties and the XYZ Coordinates Display Different Heights?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire

The problem is usually that there is material below the Z0, and the text in the lower corner represents the components height relative to position of where XY0 is; it does not count the material below 0.

The height listed in the component properties on the other hand, does count the material below 0, which is why you will see 2 different heights listed.

To fix this you will need to:

  1. Create a boundary around the component
  2. Go to Model->Add Zero Plane
  3. In the component list, place the new zero plane above the 2nd component
  4. Right click the zero plane in the component list and go to Combine Mode->Low
  5. Select both components and then bake them.
  6. Select the boundary and the baked component you created earlier and then click the trim button.

This will remove the zero plane and leave you with the original component and will trim the excess material below the XY0.

Frequently asked questions on SketchUp

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

SketchUp

Why is my imported model much too big or much too small?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Check that you are using the same scale in both Aspire and Sketchup. If you use mm in one and Inch in another, this can cause confusion when you are importing to Aspire.

The only time you can change the measurements for Sketchup is to change the template option when first opening the software.

SketchUp Settings

When I import my model, I get multiple copies of components

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

When importing a model for vectors, any component attached to multiple layers will be imported multiple times.

To stop this, select "Only import visible data on selected layers" and deselect all layers except for one instance of each component.

When importing a vector with rounded edges it does not have rounded edges

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

2D vectors cannot record something from a 3D image, either use the 3D component import function, or approximate the desired curvature of your edge using a profile tool path combined with a round over tool bit.

If your material and tool bit settings are accurate to your equipment, the toolpath preview will accurately show you the final effect if there is no requirement for an undercut.

Undercuts cannot be viewed in Aspire or VCarve Pro.

What version of Aspire or VCarve should I use to open SketchUp files?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

You should use Aspire 4.514 and higher or VCarve Pro 7.514 and higher to open SketchUp files.

Always check for the latest updates under Help -> Check for Updates

Aspire 4.514 and VCarve Pro 7.514 can open Sketchup 2014 files and older.

Aspire 8.5, VCarve 8.5 and Cut2D 8.5 can open Sketchup 2016 files and older. (Vectors only for Cut2D).

Aspire 9, VCarve 9 and Cut2D 9 can open Sketchup 2017 files and older. (Vectors only for Cut2D).

What sort of designs should I be using Sketchup for with Aspire?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire

Sketchup and the Aspire 3D component importer is designed to allow you to import low relief designs for conversion into the raised 2.5D components for panel detailing and signage.

What sort of designs should I be using SketchUp for with Aspire and VCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Sketchup and the Aspire/VCarve Pro Vector importer is designed to allow you to work smoothly with flat panel designs, which will allow you to visualise the final product before having the components pulled apart and made ready for cutting.

This will turn a 3D models edges into vector lines ready for you to assign toolpaths to.

Certain design aspects need to be considered in your Sketchup design to allow for easy importing, such as component naming and Layer ordering. These are covered in both the help guide under the Help Menu, and in other FAQ pages.

What should I save my Sketchup model to import Vectors to Aspire or VCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Aspire V4.514 and higher and VCarve V7.514 and higher can read Native Sketchup format (.SKP). Load them from File Menu -> Import -> Import Vectors.

Also, you can now drag and drop .SKP files directly from a Windows folder into the 2D Drawing window to begin the Vector import process.

What is SketchUp?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

SketchUp is a free 3D modelling application from Google. It allows you to create accurate diagrams of your designs in a true 3D environment.

To learn more about SketchUp visit here: http://www.sketchup.com/

What does Auto Orientate do in the Vector Import dialogue for SketchUp?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

As most components want to be cut so that the largest face is face up on the CNC router, if this option is selected, all the components in your Sketchup file will be rotated so that the face facing up is the largest.

If your design requires thin pieces that have a thicker profile then face, this option may not be suitable. Position your components within Sketchup with the correct orientation for cutting before importing.

If you are finding that your top face is not being used as the top face by the Sketchup Importer, (due to having a smaller surface area then the bottom face) then you can force it to stay the right way up by adding a colour to the top face in Sketchup.

Then when you are importing the vectors into Aspire/VCarve you can change the orientation option to "Orientate by Material" and pick your colour from the dropdown menu. This will inform the importer exactly which way up you need the model be.

My model does not look as smooth as it did in my other 3D package

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Most 3D packages apply a visual smoothing that makes a 3D model appear to be smoother than it really is.

Aspire will only show a 3D model as it really is, with no smoothing applied. This is to ensure that the on-screen representation correctly resembles the final cut piece.

Once your 3D model is in Aspire, you can use the smooth components tool to take some of the edges off your model, but it is more effective to increase the polygon count within your 3D package and reimport it.

3D SketchUp model is not importing to flat panels correctly

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

To recognise the model’s parts as possible panels to create vectors from, a Sketchup model needs to be modelled as individual components, rather than the entire design constructed as one piece.

Break the design apart into its individual component parts within SketchUp and reimport it.

I can see through my model when it is imported

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Your model has a hole in it from when it was saved in Sketchup, reopen it in Sketchup and use the drawing tools to cover the hole.

Check the face orientation to make sure the model is not inside out.

How do I import SketchUp models?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

For Aspire 3D components: Once you have a new project opened, or an existing project opened, Use File -> Import -> Import Component/3D Model.

For VCarve Pro and Aspire Vectors: Once you have a new project opened, or an existing project opened, Use File -> Import -> Import Vectors...

This will allow you to select your desired .SKP file and load the Sketchup File Import window.

From here you have various options to modify how the 3D Model is turned into 2D Vector lines that can be used in the software.

You can also use the Windows Drag and Drop to drop a .SKP file directly onto an opened projects 2D View which will begin the import process.

How can I import a SketchUp model that is 2 sided?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Sometimes you want to machine a model that does not easily fit onto a flat plain for CNC machining. This can be handled just like any other 3D model import.

How can I get the best results with the SketchUp Vector import?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

If possible, take your Sketchup design and lay out the components flat with the pieces orientated as if you were laying them out to cut. This will ensure that when they are imported, the vectors are exactly where you want them to be.

When working with layers it is important to ensure that all parts of the element you are working with exist on the correct layer.

Due to the nature of Sketchup’s layers system, it is easy to spread a model over multiple layers, which will make importing it more difficult.

Can I import SketchUp models into Aspire and VCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Yes, you can.

Aspire can now load 3D models from Sketchup, in the exact same way you can from .STL files.

This is applicable for Aspire 4.514 and higher.

VCarve and Aspire can both now import 2D Vectors from Sketchup files.

This is applicable for both VCarve 7.514 and Aspire 4.514 and higher

Frequently asked questions on Toolpaths

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

Toolpaths

How can I open a file from Cut3D, Design & Make or PhotoVCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

Yes, Aspire, VCarve Pro/Desktop and Cut2D Pro/Desktop have the ability to import the toolpaths that have been created in Cut3D (.v3d), Design & Make (.v3m) and PhotoVCarve (.pvc).

Once imported, the toolpaths can be used as part of the design in larger projects.

Note: While Aspire is capable of almost all operations the other programs can perform, the ability to import toolpaths from these programs was included to provide flexibility between users.

Here is an overview on how you would do this:

  • You first need to setup and create the toolpaths in Cut3D, 3D Machinist (limited to .v3m file format) or PhotoVCarve and save the file.
  • Then in Aspire, VCarve Pro or Cut2D you would use the command File > Import > Import PhotoVCarve or Cut3D toolpaths.
  • Once imported you can use the visible grayscale of the image and position it where you want for the project's design. The program will then automatically provide an offset to ensure that is where the toolpaths will machine in your project.

How can I tell how deep my V-Carving is?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

After the software has calculated a toolpath, it displays a summary of the toolpath data on the 'background' of the toolpath tab. This is only visible when no other form is open on the toolpath tab, so you may have to close the preview form to see it.

As you click on different toolpaths names in the toolpath list this information will be updated for the highlighted toolpath. Find the Min. Z line and it will tell you the deepest that toolpath will cut.

As well as showing the Min. Z value for the selected toolpath, this information also includes feed rates, tool information and estimated machining time.

Will my CNC do v-carving work?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Most modern CNC machines will certainly be able to cut 3D V-Carved projects. If your machine can move the X, Y & Z axes simultaneously (all at the same time), then it should be capable of V-Carving.

You can confirm that the software is compatible with your CNC machine by downloading the Trial Versions, opening the included sample projects, and saving the toolpaths with the correct post processor for your CNC machine. Then you can cut samples at your machine and confirm it will work with the software.

If you have any additional questions, please contact us at support@vectric.com

Why is the machined edge of my dish model rough or have a ridge around it?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Anytime you create a project with a dish or other recessed shape it is good practice to create a zero plane for the shape to merge with. This allows the software to better define the exact point where the recessed shape meets the surface, which will result in a better toolpath and smooth machined surface.

A ridge around the recessed shape could be caused by many reasons and they are typically associated with how the project has been designed and set up.

We cannot cover all the possibilities here, but one quick check you can make is to check is the Model Position in Material. Open the Material Setup form using the icon on the Toolpath Tab and verify the Gap Above Model is set to 0.0.

If this does not help, it is suggested you create a new post on the main forum and ask for possible ideas and solutions. Providing the file (only if it does not contain any protected 3D models or vector designs) always helps, as does pictures and screen prints. Normally, the more information you can provide the faster and better the responses will be.

Why is no toolpath being calculated for the vectors I have selected?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

There could be a few issues that would cause this, and most should generate a warning or error message.

Some quick things to check include:

  • Tool too large to fit in the area. Try increasing the size of the area slightly or edit the tool and very slightly reduce the bit diameter just for that toolpath. For example, if you are trying to cut a pocket 0.25" (6mm) wide with a 0.25" (6mm) end mill you can adjust the pocket width or 0.251" (6.02mm) or edit to tool's diameter to 0.249" (5.98mm).
  • Use node editing to check the vector(s) for small loops or overlapping segments. This is a very common problem when the vectors have been exported from another program.

If nothing is apparent, this type of problem is always good to post on the main forum and if the file does not contain any protected images or models, posting the file helps considerably. As a minimum, including some pictures and screen prints will help other forum members offer suggestions and ideas.

Why does my actual cut part not look like the Preview Image?mai

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

The more you use our programs, the more you will appreciate the accuracy of the Toolpath Preview and how it can help achieve superior results at your machine. However, there are issues beyond the program's control that can result in your machined project not looking like the preview image.

There could be many reasons for this, but here are a few to consider and check:

  • Do not setup a toolpath that exceeds the cutting length for the bit you will use.
  • Be sure you set Z Zero at your machine to the same point (Top of Material or Top of Machine Bed) that was set in the program when the toolpaths were calculated.
  • Be sure you set the X, Y Origin to the same relative position at your machine that was set in the program when the toolpaths were calculated.
  • Be sure you have installed the same bit at your machine as the toolpath was calculated for.
  • For V-carving, it is very important to use the exact same angle v-bit as the toolpath was calculated for. A different angled v-bit may have been installed at the machine OR the actual angle is slightly different than what the bit manufacturer marketed it under. A forum member, Paul Z, has developed a quick and easy way to find out exactly what angle your v-bit is without the need for expensive measuring equipment.
  • Verify the actual material thickness matches the material thickness set for the project.
  • Double-check all the tool database setting for the bit you are using. Sometimes it is easy to create or copy a tool and input the wrong diameter.
  • Verify the Feed Rate and Plunge Rate settings are correct for your machine and material and have the units you want.

If none of this helps, you can post your information on the forum to get other's ideas and suggestion or contact support@vectric.com for assistance.

Changing a tool's settings in the Tool Database or in the Toolpath setup

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

When you change a tool's setting in the Tool Database, it changes the default settings for that tool, and these are the settings that would appear the next time that tool is selected for a toolpath.

After selecting a tool for a toolpath, you have the option to Edit that tool and make changes to the default settings that will apply only to that toolpath.

What is the "Solid" option?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

An easy way to visually check you have correctly set up a 2D toolpath is to use the Solid option available on the toolpath tab.

First, make the toolpath visible by checking the box left of the toolpath's name, then check the box under the toolpath list labelled Solid. This will place a solid blue line in the 2D window that represents the exact cut path and width of the selected bit and you can quickly see if the toolpath is cutting where you expect it to.

e.g. Tick box

Solid toolpath tick box

Tip: This is a very good way to visually see if the selected bit can fit into all the areas you want, such as profiling around text. If it does not, you can recalculate the toolpath using smaller diameter bits until you find the size that will work or make changes in the design.

e.g. Solid toolpath

Example solid toolpath

What do I need to reset after a tool change?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

Once you have set the material up on your machine you need to set X,Y Origin in the same location in reference to the jobs position on your CNC as shown in the project's Material Setup. Once this is done, it is important that this is not changed or reset during the job because all the different toolpaths will reference from this point.

However, setting Z Zero accurately following each bit change is important to ensure accurate cut depths by each tool. Be sure to set Z Zero to either the material top or machine bed depending on how the project has been setup in the material setup.

Tip: It is a good practice to pick a spot and Z Zero every bit at that same spot during a project. Be sure to look ahead and do not pick a spot that may get machined away by one of the toolpaths.

What controls the depth where the tabs are in a toolpath?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

The bottom of tabs are always at the Cut Depth for the toolpath and extend upward by the Tab Thickness set during the tab setup.

If you set a Cut Depth deeper than the material thickness to intentionally cut past the bottom of the material, be sure the tab thickness is enough to still appear in the material.

Also, when using a Start Depth other then 0.0 with tabs, if the Start Depth is below the top of the tabs, some or all the tabs will be machined away.

Saving Images with a plain background

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

If you want to save an Image without any background color, which is a useful feature if the image is to be used in a brochure or other type of publication, follow these steps.

  • Select View > Use Shaded Background to uncheck that feature
  • Save the image using the .PNG file format

In the Profile Toolpath, what is Allowance Offset used for?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

The Allowance Offset only applies to the Outside / Right and Inside / Left options. It provides a quick and easy way to calculate different size toolpaths using only one defining vector.

  • For the Outside / Right option, a positive offset value will leave more material on the outside of a closed vector or to the right side of an open vector. Likewise, a negative offset value will remove more material from a closed vector or leave less material to the right side of an open vector.
  • For the Inside / Left option, a positive offset value will leave more material on the inside of a closed vector or to the left side of an open vector. Likewise, a negative offset value will remove more material from the inside of a closed vector or leave less material from the left side of an open vector.

It is easy to visually check the toolpath in the 2D window to ensure the offset is doing what you expect by using the Solid preview option.

In the Pocket Toolpath, what is Pocket Allowance used for?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

The Pocket Allowance allows you to quickly create a toolpath that will machine the pocket either smaller or larger than the defining closed vector.

  • A Pocket Allowance of 0.0 (the default) will create a pocket the exact size of the defining vector.
  • A positive Pocket Allowance value will make the pocket smaller than the defining closed vector.
  • A negative Pocket Allowance value will make the pocket larger than the defining closed vector.

It is easy to visually check the toolpath in the 2D window to ensure the offset is doing what you expect by using the Solid preview option.
 

e.g. Pocket Allowance values

Pocket toolpath pocket allowance

How do Start Depth and Cut Depth work together?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

When you set both a Start Depth and Cut Depth in a toolpath, the Cut Depth will begin at the Start Depth and add to it, so the total depth of cut will equal the Start Depth plus Cut Depth.

For example, setting start depth to 6 mm and cut depth to 3 mm will result in a total depth of cut of 9 mm.

How do I use the two Safe Z settings, Z1 and Z2?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

When you open the Material Setup form using the Setup Material and Rapid Gaps tool in the Toolpath Tab, you will see settings for Clearance (Z1) and Plunge (Z2). These are also referred to as the Safe Z settings.

e.g. Clearance (Z1) and Plunge (Z2)

Clearance and plunge depths

The Clearance (Z1) is the most important setting. This is the height above the job at which it is safe for the cutter to move at rapid or maximum feed rate. The software will raise the bottom of the cutter to this height when it traverses the material.

The Plunge (Z2) is an added feature. As well as specifying a rapid clearance gap for rapid positioning moves above the work piece, the user can also specify a much smaller gap that the tool will rapid down to during plunge moves.

  • By default, the plunge gap is set to the same value as the clearance gap, which means that there will be no rapid plunges.
  • If you set the Plunge (Z2) gap to a smaller value than the clearance (Z1) gap, the tool will plunge at rapid feed rate to the specified distance above the material surface before changing to the specified plunge rate.
  • For jobs where a large value for clearance (Z1) gap must be specified to avoid clamps etc, this feature can save a considerable amount of machining time if there are many plunge moves in the job.
  • Setting a value of 0.0 for the plunge gap will also disable this feature.

Note: Not all machines can take advantage of this feature.

How do I transfer the toolpaths to the machine tool?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D, Cut3D, PhotoVCarve

There are exceptions, but the vast majority of users copy their toolpaths to some type of flash drive and take this to their machine OR save over a network connection to transfer the post processed toolpaths directly to their machine's controller.

If that does not work with your machine, you should contact the machine's manufacturer or distributor to find out the required procedure.

How do I stop the toolpath cutting past the edge of my 3D model?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

Aspire and VCarve V8.0 and Higher.

Machining limit boundary

A feature of Aspire and VCarve, is the option to automatically limit a 3D toolpath to the model boundary.

Just select this option when setting up your 3D toolpathing.

How do I setup the start point of the toolpath?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

For the Profile Toolpaths you can use node editing to place the vector's Start Point where you want it.

In Aspire and VCarve Pro, be sure to check the box that says Use vector start points (do not optimize) when setting up the Profile Toolpath as indicated in the image below.

In Cut2D, the default action is to use the vector start points under most conditions and the user has no external control over it.

e.g. Start point in Aspire/VCarve Pro

Start point toolpath

How do I set the Cut Depth when v-carving?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

The V-carved Toolpath is unique because there is no way to set the Cut Depth. The toolpath requires a closed vector shape and will move the v-bit as deep as required to machine to the two vectors on either side of the bit.

In general:

  • The wider the gap between the two vectors, the deeper the v-bit will cut.
  • The narrower the gap between the two vectors, the shallower the v-bit will cut.
  • The higher the included angle of the v-bit, the more 'pointed' it is and the deeper it will cut.
  • The lower the included angle of the v-bit, the 'flatter' it is and will cut shallower

Note: If you have the material thickness accurately set in the material setup, the program will warn you if the depth of the v-carving will be deeper than the material thickness.

How do I machine a single line font?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

The Single Line Fonts included with the program are designed for drag type engraving tools using the Quick Engraving Toolpath.

However, you can machine them with ordinary router bits (typically v-bits or engraving bits) using the Profile Toolpath with the On option selected and a shallow Cut Depth set. The Toolpath Preview will allow you to try different combination of bits and Cut Depths until you get the look you need.

How do I stop my bit hitting a clamp when traveling across the machine bed?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

In the Toolpath tab, select Setup Material and Rapid Gap.

In the form that opens, you will find a data entry box for Clearance (Z1), which is also referred to as the Safe Z. This is the height above your Z Zero reference point that the bottom of the bit will rapid at across the machine bed.

Rapid z gaps

If you are using clamps or have another need for the bit to travel above a certain height, this value is what you will set to control that.

What is Allowance Offset or Pocket Allowance and how it changes toolpaths?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

When you enter a positive value for either offset, it will always offset the cut line to leave extra material that would later be removed with a separate finish toolpath.

If you enter a negative value for either offset, it will remove more material than the defining vector would normally allow.

How can I make copies of a toolpath to cut multiple versions?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Once you have setup a toolpath on one of the parts, double click on the toolpath name to open it for editing. Then select all the identical parts you want to toolpath and recalculate the toolpath.

Additionally, some control systems allow a single toolpath to be cut multiple times. This is totally a function of the control system and you would need to contact your machine's manufacturer or control system's developer for specific information.

How can I machine a project which is larger than my CNC work area?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

There is a feature called Tile Toolpaths that will break the entire project's toolpaths into smaller "tiles" that can be machined one at a time. The tool is found in the Toolpath Operations section of the Toolpath tab. Select this and the form you need will open.

You have a choice of how you can break up the toolpaths which will probably be driven by your machine's size and the current project. The choices are to create individual tiles using separate pieces of material, which are later assembled to form the complete project OR using one long piece of material you can reposition and machine it in sections.

You can find more detailed information in the Help Contents and view a tutorial video on the process in the Training Materials section.

How can I improve the edge quality of my 3D model when machining it?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

It can sometimes be very challenging to obtain good vertical edges with 3D toolpaths.

If a vertical edge is part of the 3D design, there may not be much that you can do unless the model can modified and the design allows a vertical edge to be replaced with a slightly angled edge.

However, if the vertical edge is the outer edge of a design and will later be cut with a profile type cut-out toolpath, a good approach is to use some technique to limit the 3D toolpaths from cutting this vertical edge.

There are many ways to do this and the best approach many times depends on the shape of the 3D components. Some suggests are:

  • Use a boundary vector and set the Boundary Vector Offset to keep the 3D toolpaths on the top surface of the 3D model.
  • Create a 3D component the same height (or close to it) as the edge you are trying to protect but larger in size and merge it with your project. Then use a boundary vector and Boundary Vector Offset that allows the 3D toolpaths to flow off the model and onto this new model a short distance. Finally, use a Profile toolpath (with normal tabs if required) to cut the vertical edges.
  • Aspire Only: If the design was created with a Two Rail Sweep such as a moulding, modify the Two Rail Sweep to add either a flat surface or angled edge (typically called a draft angle). Calculate the 3D toolpaths using the new wider vectors but cut it out using the original vectors with a Profile toolpath (with normal tabs if required).

How can I improve the cut quality when working with difficult materials?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

When cutting hard materials or very deep v-carvings the tool may vibrate or chatter causing marks on the job.

A tip for improving the surface finish is to:

  1. Calculate the toolpath using multiple Z Level passes
  2. On your machine - Set the Z Zero position for the tool slightly high (i.e. 0.02" or 0.5mm) and run toolpath 1. (this will leave material on the job)
  3. Calculate a second toolpath that cuts the job in a single pass (Be sure to set Pass Depth greater than the actual Min Z depth displayed for toolpath 1
  4. On the machine - Set the Z Zero position correctly and run toolpath 2. This toolpath will remove the remaining 0.02" / 0.5mm cleaning-up the surface finish.

How can I get an estimate of how long the toolpath will take to cut?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut3D

You will find Estimated Machining Times associated with toolpaths found in different places depending on the program and the summary list below should help.

For all the programs, you must take some steps to make this estimate as accurate as possible for your machine.

  • First, set the Rapid Rate to the correct value and units for your machine. For most machines, this is set in the software that controls the machine.
  • Then, time some toolpaths at your machine and adjust the Scale Factor for those toolpaths until the Estimated time for that toolpath is close to the actual time you measured.
  • After you do this a few times, the best Scale Factor for your machine should become clearer.

Note: This is only an estimate and does not include any adjustments the machine's control system may make such as Acceleration/Deceleration settings. As such, it is hard to find one scale factor that will work with all the types of toolpaths. However, it should get you close and help with quotes and machining decisions.

Where to find the Estimated Machining Times:

  • Cut3D: At the bottom of the Roughing, Finishing and Cut out Toolpath Setup pages and on the Preview Machining page where you can adjust the Rapid Rate and Scale Factor.
  • PhotoVCarve: On the Preview & Save Toolpath page.
  • Aspire and VCarve Pro: Click on the Toolpaths Summary icon on the Toolpath Tab that will open a summary sheet showing the individual times for all the calculated toolpaths and a Total Machining Time. Or you can hover the mouse over the name of the Toolpath in the Toolpath List and the tool tip will pop up with information about the toolpath including the Estimated Time.

How can I find the correct post processor for my machine tool?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

After you open the Save Toolpath form using its icon, there is a pull-down list with all the post processors currently stored in the Post Processor folder (in the Application Data Folder) on your computer. Scroll down this list, find, and select the correct post processor for your machine.

You only need to do this once. The next time you open the Save Toolpath form the last post processor selected should show as the default post processor.

If you are not sure of the correct post processor for your machine, you can contact the machine's manufacturer or distributor, ask on the manufacturer's forum, ask on the Vectric Forum, or contact Vectric at support@vectric.com.

How can I create a new custom tool?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

If you need to create a new tool that is not one of the standard types, you would create it as a Form Tool. With this feature you can match any router bit that does not have an undercut, such as dovetail bits and Keyhole bits.

Custom Form Cutters

In this How-To you will see how to add custom form cutters in Aspire and VCarve Pro. Ogee, Roman Ogee, and Round-Over are examples of custom form cutters that can be created, but any custom shaped tool can be created using the steps laid out in this How-To.

Overview: The process for creating a custom form cutter is simple; you need to create a profile of the cutter and then add it to the tool database.

The Process: In this example you will create a Roman Ogee bit. On the right is a picture of the actual bit you will create. The key to creating custom form cutters is understanding how the node editing tools work.

Step 1

The first thing needed is to create a square that is the dimensions of the profile of the cutter you are creating. In this example, the roman ogee cutter you are making is 1.5 inches wide by 0.75 inches high. So, you need to create a square 0.75 inches by 0.75 inches (one half the width of the cutter by the height). To create this, click the square icon and enter 0.75 for the height and width, and then click ‘Create’ and then click ‘Close’.

Step 2

Now that you have created the square, you need to start editing the nodes to shape the profile of the bit. Select the node-editing icon and then click on the created square. You will see four black blocks in each of the corners of the square. Move your mouse over the lower right-hand block and press the ‘D’ key. This will delete the lower right-hand node.

Step 3

The last step will turn your square into a triangle. You need to start dividing up the diagonal line to shape the profile of the cutter you are creating. The profile you are creating has three parts to it - two arcs or curves and a notched section in the middle. To create the notch in the middle of the cutter, you need to divide the diagonal line up into three parts. To do this, put your mouse over the diagonal line and press the ‘I’ key. Next, move to a different spot on the line and press the ‘I’ key again. You should now have two new nodes on your diagonal line. Note: Notice in the picture how I have placed the two new nodes just a little off centre on the diagonal line. The closer you can place your nodes to the actual locations they will end up, the easier it is the long run. This will become more obvious in the next few steps.

Step 4

Creating the arcs or curves in the profile is the next step. To do this, move your mouse over the first section of the diagonal line and press the ‘A’ key. Then move your mouse to the third section of the diagonal line and press the ‘A’ key.

Step 5

This is where things start to look like the actual cutter you are creating. Click on the different nodes to shape them so they look like the form cutter you want to create. The two arcs or curves need to be moved around and the two nodes you inserted in step 3 need to be moved to create the notch in the middle of the cutter.

Step 6

When you’re happy with the profile you’ve created, it’s time to create the new tool in Aspire or VCarve Pro. Move your mouse over the top horizontal line of the profile and press the ‘D’ key. This will remove the top line. Next, move your mouse over the left vertical line and press the ‘D’ key. Again, this will remove the line. When creating form cutters in the software, you only need to have the profile of the bit drawn. This is why you removed the other lines.

Step 7

All you should be left with is the profile you created in step 5. Switch into ‘Selection Mode’ by clicking the selection mode icon. Then click on the cutter profile to highlight it.

Step 8

With the cutter profile selected, go to the tool database by clicking the menu item ‘Edit’, and then selecting ‘Tool Database’. The tool database window should come up. Select the ‘New…’ button in the lower left corner. Now select the ‘Form Tool’ in the Tool Type dropdown box located near the top right of the tool database window.

Step 9

The software now creates the tool. Notice how the full image of the tool is displayed and the diameter is automatically calculated. You can now edit any of the cutting parameters and speeds and feeds for the created tool. You can also give the new tool a name that describes the tool better, for example Roman Ogee – 1.5 inch. When you are done adjusting everything, press the ‘Apply’ button and the ‘OK’ button.

Step 10

The only thing that is left to do is start using your new tool. You can see here what the profile looks like when cut.

Tips and Pitfalls:

  • Make sure that the cutter profile does not cross over the centre line or the top line of the tool (the left vertical line or the top horizontal line you deleted in step 6).
  • 0.010” is the smallest diameter custom form cutter you can create in the software. There is no limit on how big the cutter can be, but the larger the cutter, the slower the preview will be.  For most common bit sizes, you should not experience any performance slowdowns.

How can I control how many passes (depths of cut) my toolpath will take?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

In most toolpaths you can set a Pass Depth for the selected bit. The program will create enough passes until it gets to the Cut Depth set for that toolpath.

The Profile toolpath in Aspire and VCarve Pro can be modified by the program as explained in this excerpt from the Help document:

By default, the program can modify the precise step down by up to 15% in either direction, if by doing so it is able to reduce the total number of passes required to reach the desired cut depth. If this is unacceptable, Aspire and VCarve Pro users can use the Edit Passes feature described below.

Therefore, Aspire and VCarve Pro have an additional feature in the Profile Toolpath that lets you precisely set up the number and depths of each pass. You would open that option by selecting Edit Passes on the Profile toolpath form and filling out the appropriate section. The Help Contents or Reference Manual discusses this in detail and would a good source of information.

Tip: The ability to Edit Passes and quickly assign different pass depths is a quick way to leave an 'onion skin' to be removed by a final pass. It also provides a quick way to adjust Profile toolpaths using bits such as v-bits and ball nose bits where the amount of material removed would increase with each pass if a constant Pass Depth was set.

How many passes toolpath

How can I adjust the depth of a v-carving when too deep or too shallow?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

If your v-carving is cutting too deep you have a few options:

  • Easiest solution is the use the Flat Depth option near the top of the V-Carve / Engraving Toolpath form. This will still cut angled sides using a v-bit but the bottom will be flat and limited to the Flat Depth amount. This can be visibly different than a design carved to full depth without a flat bottom but may be your only option especially if you need to work with the v-bits you have on hand.
  • Use a v-bit with a larger included angle, which cuts a shallower v-groove. For example, a 90-degree v-bit will cut shallower than a 60-degree v-bit, and a 120-degree v-bit will cut shallower than a 90-degree v-bit. See eg.1 below for different angle V-bits on a 2" circle profile.
  • Reduce the size of the vectors to reduce the gap. Typically, not practical once the design is set, but may be one option if you have a limited number of different angle v-bits available.

If your v-carving is cutting too shallow switch to a v-bit with a higher included angle, i.e., more pointed.

Tip: Sometimes you may find the best angled v-bit for your project is one you do not have. Find out what v-bits are commercially available in your area and create tools for them in your tool database. Then use them with the Toolpath Preview until you get the results you want. Now you know exactly which v-bit you need to purchase to complete the project.

eg.1 Different angle of a V-carve bit

V-carve depth

Does your software support Tool Changers?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Cut2D and PhotoVCarve do not support tool changers.

Cut3D, VCarve Pro and Aspire all support Tool Changers assuming you have the correct post processor selected.

Tool changes menu


You can confirm this for your CNC machine by downloading the Trial Versions, opening the included sample projects, and saving the toolpaths with the correct Tool Changer post processor for your machine. Then you can cut samples at your machine and confirm correct tool changer operation.

Can I create a tool with an undercut?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve

No, the Form Tool will not allow a bit with an undercut to be modelled since toolpaths using bits with undercuts cannot be previewed.

If you need to use a bit with undercut in a project, you can create a toolpath using a standard bit but run that at your machine with the undercut bit installed.

For example, you want to create a T-slot using a T-slot bit. You can create a toolpath using an end mill and preview that, realizing at your machine there will be a horizontal slot cut at the bottom of the toolpath. To do this safely and successfully, you need to have a good understanding of toolpaths, how to set up a single pass toolpath and possibly the use of Lead-ins and Lead-outs.

If you need help setting up a particular toolpath, asking on the Vectric Forum should get you the help you need.

Can I control the speed of the Toolpath Preview?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Several settings can change the simulation speed when you preview a toolpath, and the actual results will depend on your computer.

  • Before previewing the toolpath, check or uncheck the 'Animate Preview' check box in the Preview Toolpaths menu. Having this checked will slow the preview down, having it unchecked will allow it to speed up.
  • Changing the Preview Quality can make a difference on the amount of time it takes to generate the toolpath and preview it. The lower quality setting will allow the toolpath preview to go faster, but the resulting screen appearance will suffer. The higher quality settings will allow the preview to go slower but result in better screen appearance. You can change the Preview Quality by using Toolpaths > Preview Simulation Quality.
  • Aspire and VCarve Pro add an additional feature called Preview Controls located on the Toolpath Preview form. These Preview Controls provide full video-like playback control of your toolpath. You can use this mode to analyze the tool moves in detail, moving step-by-step or until a tool retract. To begin using Preview Control, click on either the Run, Single-Step or Run to Retract buttons, which are summarized below.
  • Aspire 4.0 and VCarve Pro 7.0 also add an option of a Speed Control slider which can be adjusted to slow down the speed that the toolpath simulation is run at.

Can I add different types of preview materials?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Although the standard list of job preview materials provides a reasonable selection of woods, stones, and metals to choose from, you may have a project that requires a special material type. For example, a customer may require their work to be carved into a special wood that is not in the default list of materials.

The Job Preview material list can very easily be edited to include your own material types and selection names, allowing your work to be previewed and saved in the same materials that you are actually planning to rout or engrave.

Preview material settings

Are there any shortcuts for controlling the view in the 3D Preview window?

+

SOFTWARE: Aspire, VCarve, Cut2D

Yes, there are View Control shortcuts available to help with adjusting the view in the 3D Preview window.

How do I align a model when doing multi-sided machining?

+

SOFTWARE: Cut3D

There are many approaches to this and the best one will depend on your machine's construction, the project's design, the material to be used and personal preference.

Below are some suggested techniques found in the Cut3D Help document and Reference Manual and this is always a good question to post on the Vectric forum to see what other users may suggest.

What settings work for getting good results with PhotoVCarve?

+

SOFTWARE: PhotoVCarve

Obtaining good results with PhotoVCarve depends on many factors and differs from project to project. However, the following considerations should help.

  • Perhaps the most important is the quality of the picture you are using. This can possibly be improved using photo editing software available both for sale and free. If you can post the picture on the forum in the PhotoVCarve section, many forum members good with this type of software have been willing to help and advice.
  • The material you pick should be perfectly flat and a color that will generate a good color contrast between the material and v-grooves once a stain or paint is applied. If your material is wood, lighter woods seem to work better and it should be a species that does not have overpowering grain such as Oak.
  • The bits you use should be very sharp and accurately sized and setup in the tool database.
  • At your machine, the bit's Z Zero must be precisely set to zero at the same location as set in the PhotoVCarve project. It does not take much, too high, or too low, to change the machined results significantly.

Again, with so many variables it is impossible to provide one good answer. There are many users on the forum getting great results, so do not hesitate to ask for their help and guidance.

Why do I only get the choice of a Silhouette boundary with a V3M model?

+

SOFTWARE: Cut3D

The V3M file format from Design & Make is a unique format which includes a special boundary to ensure the toolpaths stay on the 3D surface.

If you have purchased a V3M model but find your current project requires more toolpath flexibility, you can download the same exact model in STL format from the Design & Make website at no additional cost.

How to stop tools from machining past a boundary on negative shape (dish)?

+

SOFTWARE: Cut3D

In Step 2, Material Size and Margins, setting the Symmetrical input value to 0.0 allows machining past the boundary enough to completely machine the model and this includes the sides of the model.

However, if you set the Symmetrical input value to a very small amount, 0.001" or 0.02 mm for example, the toolpath should be restricted from going beyond the edge of the model.

As this depends on exactly how the model was created and saved in a 3D modelling program, it may not work in all cases.

Laser Module FAQ’s

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

Laser Module

What is the Laser Module?

+

The laser module enables you to create projects using hybrid laser and CNC machining all within one package. This hybrid solution allows you to take advantage of the same drawing, machining, and layout tools you are already used to. Simply create your project, choose which parts you want to cut on your CNC and which parts you want to laser and view all elements of the finished hybrid project all in your simulation.

How can I purchase the laser module?

+

The laser module can only be purchased as an ‘add-on’ to any of our core products including, Cut2D Desktop, Cut2D Pro, VCarve Desktop, VCarve Pro and Aspire version 10.5+. This means you must already own one of these core products in version 10.5 or above to be able to add the laser module and use the laser toolpaths.

The laser module can be purchased directly from your V&Co account for $49. Once purchased the module will be added to your existing software. Once installed you will find the laser toolpath options within your toolpath tools.

What laser hardware is compatible with the laser module?

+

Initially we aim to support the following machine tools (and controllers) using the most common commercially available solid-state laser diode modification kits.

X-Carve (GRBL) -

Shapeoko (GRBL) -

Ooznest (Duet2) -

Digital Wood Carver (PlanetCNC controller) -

Nextwave CNC - Nextwave Laser Controller -

OpenBuilds (GRBL)  -

Stepcraft (UCCNC) -

We will be adding other machines and controllers to this supported list over time.

Other similar machines or controllers *may* work, our version 10.5 trial editions allow you to test your machine configuration before you purchase. Please note, however, that we are unable to provide support for other configurations at this time.

 

 

How do I test the laser module is compatible with my laser?

+

To test the laser module simply head over to our free trial page here:

http://vectric.com/free-trial/laser-module

As the laser module is only available as an ‘add on’ module, which means you will need to firstly choose one of our core products in order to test the laser module.

Choose from Cut2D Desktop, Cut2D Pro, VCarve Desktop, VCarve Pro or Aspire.

Once you have downloaded and installed your trial software, then the laser module can be trialled by selecting the Trial – Laser Module option from the Help Menu at the top, left hand side of the software.

After restarting the software the new laser module functionality will be enabled. All of the features are enabled and there are a selection of free projects available for you to download and cut on your CNC machine to check the compatibility.

Watch our free trial tour video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=q_Or6ELVc4Q&feature=emb_logo

Laser Module FAQs

Will this module work with my laser?

+

Initially we aim to support the following machine tools (and controllers) using the most common commercially available solid-state laser diode modification kits.

X-Carve (GRBL) -

Shapeoko (GRBL) -

Ooznest (Duet2) -

Digital Wood Carver (PlanetCNC controller) -

Nextwave CNC - Nextwave Laser Controller -

OpenBuilds (GRBL)  -

Stepcraft (UCCNC) -

We will be adding other machines and controllers to this supported list over time.

Other similar machines or controllers *may* work, our version 10.5 trial editions allow you to test your machine configuration before you purchase. Please note, however, that we are unable to provide support for other configurations at this time.

In addition to the laser hardware listed It may be possible that machines with commonly-used post-processors, such as Mach 2/3/4,  and 3rd party laser modules can be controlled by the Laser Module, however this will usually require modification of an existing post-processor, and Vectric offers no assurances that the product will work as advertised with other controllers or hardware.

Please consult our post-processor editing guide here http://docs.vectric.com/docs/V10.0/Aspire/ENU/Help/form/post-processor-editing to find out more about how to edit a post-processor to support the laser module.

Please ensure you use the free trial download to test the compatibility before purchase as you would normally do before any software purchase for a new machine tool.

https://vectric.com/free-trial/laser-module

When I upgrade my Vectric CNC software will I need to upgrade Laser Module?

+

No, although the laser module is only available as an add on to our core Cut2D Desktop, Cut2D Pro, VCarve Desktop, VCarve Pro and Aspire version 10.5+ products, it is not linked to that particular version. For example, the functionality included in the V1 laser module will continue working alongside later versions of the software. If further functionality is added to the laser module then those updates may require a new version of the laser module to be purchased.

What wattage laser do I need to run the Laser module?

+

We have successfully used it with both 3.7W and 6W lasers in woods and acrylic. The software itself has no requirement on laser wattage.

Switching to Vectric from ArtCam

Simply click on a FAQ to reveal the answer

Switching from ArtCam

I have ArtCAM Express – which software is suitable for me?

+

If you only need to perform 2D machining operations then we suggest Cut2D.  If however you need to also create 2.5D toolpaths such as V-Carving or import a 3rd party 3D model for machining then VCarve would be ideal.

I have ArtCAM Insignia – which software is suitable for me?

+

If you need to create and edit 3D models then Aspire would be most suited.  If however you only need to import 3rd party 3D models as well as full 2.5D machining then VCarve would be the ideal product.

I have ArtCAM Pro – which software is suitable for me?

+

Aspire would be most suitable.

I have ArtCAM Jewelsmith – which software is suitable for me?

+

Vectric does not have a product with equivalent capabilities to ArtCAM Jewelsmith. You could look at the features of Aspire, but we have no equivalent of many of the Jewellery specific tool for making rings, showing jewels etc. and we would not promote Aspire as suitable for many of the tasks ArtCAM Jewelsmith is used for.

What are the differences between all the Vectric products?

+

For a full feature-by-feature comparison please click here.