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Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire

Pdub Member

I posted this at the bottom of another thread, but would like more opinions, so I'm creating a new one.
I run Alphacam Essentials because it came with my machine. I only use it to do the odd stuff that I can't do in CV Ultimate. So, maybe using it 1x per month and doing pretty simple things with it. I need to upgrade soon so I can do some curved moldings and some Z-countour roughing (like creating a curved tapered leg).
Upgrading to Alphacam Standard ain't cheap. I'm looking into V-Carve Pro but want to make sure I'm not hindering myself for the future.
I know V-Carve will now do molding profiles. Can it contour in the Z-axis or do I need to add Aspire to achieve that? Are there any other features of Alpha Standard that V-carve doesn't have that you'd consider "must have"?
I run a 3 axis machine and don't really see us stepping up to another axis. I don't have a seperate CAD program (and don't want to add one) so do all of my 1-off stuff drawing directly in Alphacam. We mostly do cabinet parts and CV is great for us. I want to get into a little more 3d as time allows but the 2 items listed above are the main needs now.

6/2/18       #2: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...

i wood buy the one that has the most tutorials. i have alphacam & if u need to learn much at all above basic, u have to take time off from work & join a class. most of the other ones have a ton on-line. so if i were doing it again that is definitely what i wood b looking at also.

6/2/18       #3: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
jerry Member

You can download a trial version of Aspire or V Carve pro and play with it. Vectric is good about not nagging you to buy. If you do buy V Carve pro you can later upgrade to Aspire and not lose money as they have an upgrade plan

6/3/18       #4: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Arto Member

Website: http://www.jyrsija fi

I would also give a go for fusion360.
I use it for many kinda 2d and 3d oneoffs with a Homag machine.
Is not very good for nesting kinda applications tho.

6/4/18       #5: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...

Alphacam. No question. Especially since you already know how to drive it. Aspire requires a different skill set.

6/4/18       #6: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Pdub Member

Can you expand on that Mike? Why no question on Alphacam over the other?
I know how to do basic stuff in Alpha, but as Mike Collins says above, learning to do anything beyond basic is almost impossible on your own. That's a major reason I'm looking elsewhere. It seems as if there's no resources for training in Alphacam. Whereas V-carve and Aspire have a ton of FREE tutorials.
I've never understand why Vero does that. It seems like they are missing out on a bunch of new clients because the software is intimidating to use and there's no help.

6/5/18       #7: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...

What I mean by that is, you already own your post processor, you have a collection of tools that you have created, you know how to manipulate geometry in order to set up your tool path. Profile cutting is pretty simple and there are online examples of how to do it. I have Aspire, but never use it because I hate online videos. That is the only damn way to learn it. I'd pay to have an instructor that was skilled. No formal training is available. Anyway, just my 2 cents. I use the Ultimate version and all of its features. I recently taught some guys the Essential version of Alphacam and it is definitely lacking in features. All those guys need though...
BTW, not affiliated with any software vendor. Good luck with your final decision. If you master Aspire, give me a yell!

6/5/18       #8: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Michael Folan Member

I'm running a SCM Pratix for the last 14 yrs with both of the above programmes.
AlphaCam V7 came with the machine and for shopfitting and signs and kitchens I just needed something else.
Pros for Alphacam
1. Good software for SCM machines, post processors etc work flawlessly
2. Editing drawings and tooling is very easy. Simple things like trim, cut, extend, break ( hard to do in Aspire V2 but now available I think)
Cons for Alphacam
1. V carving is a joke
2. Import image for tracing is an extra paid add on
3. Manual tab insertion (can be a pain adding tabs for 500 small letters)
4. Single colour drawing lines ( drawings can get cluttered and confusing)
Pros for Aspire V2
1. Import PDF and images for easy tracing
2. Great for nesting, especially small parts
3.Good cut preview
4.Great for signage with offset letters
5.Great for fluting shopfront columns
6.Great for Vee carving and prismatic letters
Cons for Aspire V2
1.As mentioned before edit tools are scarce to say the least
2.Does not support drill head
3.You cant do calculations in the coordinates box
4Having tweaked post processor many times it still fights with the machine on tool changes sometimes, its just AlphaCam suits machine better
Over all I'm delighted with both programmes and cant go one day without using both of them depending on what I'm doing

6/5/18       #9: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...

very good & thourough response michael

6/5/18       #10: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...

in the layers tab of the Project manager, right click on user layers and add layer. You can call it whatever you want and give it any color. These can be toggled on or off at will. I have had good luck with 3d engraving, not sure what is failing you. Also, if you draw in AutoCAD, you can import the colors assigned in your drawing. Either way, you have full control. On the other hand, if you are using the 2004 version, then some of these features are not available. Yes, I agree with the lack of editing tools available in Aspire. Maybe I should say tools I know how to use are lacking. In the end, they are different programs built for different types of users. They are both powerful in their own respect, but the end uses are completely different.

6/6/18       #11: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Michael Folan Member

I think you hit the nail on the head Mike when you say "tools I know how to use are lacking"
If the only programme I had was Aspire I'd be delighted with node editing. What I do is export as a dxf to AlphaCam and clean things up. Bring it back into Aspire and work away.
I'll try that tip of using layers with different colours Thanks!
Oh yeah another thing would drive me mad is AlphaCam wont put a ramped tab on anything but a straight line. Difficult when cutting letters.
Its a long time since I tried it but the trouble I had with AC 3d engrave was, the file generated for a simple set of doors for example was huge. It took ages like 1 minute to send NC to machine and it took ages to cut.
V carve in Aspire is just perfect for me as it exports and cuts as quick as straight work.

6/6/18       #12: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Pdub Member

Lot of Mike's on this thread...
Thanks guys. Mike F, your post is particularly useful. I too have a Pratix, and the Alphcam post works great with it. I use trim, cut, extend break, etc constantly and would be lost without them. I also use equations within the coordinates box constantly. So those 2 alone make me consider abandoning my idea of changing programs.
When you say it doesn't support a drill head, do you mean I can't use my drills at all? Or it just won't use multiple drills of the same diameter and maximize them? If not at all, that's the deal breaker.
In the end, I'm a millwork/ cabinetmaker and don't do much V-carving or sign making. So it sounds like maybe AC is more for my use.

6/7/18       #13: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Michael Folan

AlphaCam supports the drill head on the SCM Pratix in single, multi or side drilling depending on the configuration of your drill head.
Aspire V2 does not support drill head but the later versions do (I think)
Some days I drill 5000 holes for shop unit gables
If I had to do them with the router Iíd be in a home for the bewildered

6/8/18       #14: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Jeff O'Dell  Member


Mike, if you're still using AlphaCam v7, you're using 13+ year old outdated technology. The current version (2018 R2) vastly improves many of the issues you describe and adds many new features and capabilities.

AlphaCam's Multidrill can be adapted to virtually any machine, you need to have the "post" file for multidrill setup.

You can now also add on Aspire for AlphaCam to take advantage of Aspire's 3d drawing capabilities and use AlphaCam's 3d Machining capabilities.

Take another look at AlphaCam's current release.

6/11/18       #15: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
J Tunelley WW


we have had Alphacam 2012 since its was released, and is still the most power ful package we have ever had, a forum member here actually came to our shop and trained us and created a post processing. if you dont have to updrade i wouldnt.

6/11/18       #16: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...
Michael Folan

I noticed that Aspire was now hand in hand with AlphaCam.
Now thereís a cabinetmakers, shopfitters, sign makers dream!
Iíd probably purchase that package but if work keeps going as it is Iíll change the whole set up this year. Iím 51 years old now and this machine wonít see me out but a new Pratix with that package probably will.
My Pratix runs Windows XP Pro so my choices of upgrades are limited.

6/13/18       #17: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...


Alphacam is best. V carve/Aspire have some feature which can be good. But by a Alphacam you can programme all types of manufacture from simple 2D parts to very difficult 5 axis machining in a future. Function like a multidrill, nesting, support for aggregate.. great postprocessing have not any other software.

6/18/18       #18: Alphacam vs V-Carve/ Aspire ...


Tunelly , thank you guys much for the kind words,,and thanks for the work

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