Carbide Create

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Carbide Create is a CAD/CAM program by Carbide 3D for Windows and Mac OS X. Originally licensed for use only with the ShapeOko 3 and Nomad 883, it is now available for anyone to use.[1]

Works with Carbide Motion Machine Control Software which requires activation if used with a Stepoko: http://docs.carbide3d.com/article/75-sparkfun-stepoko-activation

Official Resources:

Unofficial Resources:

Instructions for running in Linux: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6896&p=59164#p59164

Video tutorials

http://carbide3d.com/carbidecreate/video/

Other tutorials


V-Carving

http://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/carbidecreate/video-tutorials/#v-carving

Excellent image noting width considerations: http://community.carbide3d.com/t/carve-letters-depth/4548/5

Carbide Create V-carving, simple text for a house sign: http://community.carbide3d.com/t/help-please-with-design-carving-protocol-setup-in-carbide-create-motion/4491/6

Carbide Create V-carving (advanced)[2] (incomplete)

Sample files

http://community.carbide3d.com/t/wasteboard-plans-with-threads/3544/19 --- includes Carbide Create files: S3 BED LEVEL.c2d, S3 GRID 1 inch.c2d, 4 Clamps.c2d

Keyboard shortcuts/commands

  • Ctrl c --- Duplicate.[3]
  • Mac FUNCTION + DELETE --- deletes current selection[4]
  • Esc --- deselects and returns to default design pane[5]
  • right-click-hold when not over an object will allow panning

Note that CONTROL clicking with the mouse will add or remove clicked on geometry from the current selection (as opposed to Shift-click which is the typical interface convention)

Node editing commands

In addition to being able to drag nodes around, when a path is selected and "Node Edit Mode" is engaged, one may right click on the path to insert a node, or right-click on a node to delete it.


Window controls

Carbide Create does not have normal scroll bars, and it lacks the traditional hand for panning tool for the work area (usually activated by holding down the space bar). Instead one can zoom in or out on the current cursor position by using the scroll wheel on mice so equipped, or pan by right-click-dragging.

For the interface / tool panes, there may be invisible scroll bars and hidden content if the window is shorter than the space needed to show the interface elements for the current pane. It should be possible to scroll, and there may be scroll bars to the write which will become visible while one is interacting with them. Be careful when using a scroll mouse in this area, if a control or drop down window gets focus the associated settings may be changed.

Tools

V-bits use taper angle, not angle, so a 90 degree V-bit would be entered as 45 degrees.[6]

CAM

Possible to disable paths when exporting G-code.

Job Setup

The settings here will influence the automatic toolpath settings and will determine much of the behaviour of the application and the machine.

CC jobsetup Stock Size.png Stock Size --- the physical dimensions which will be used for the working area and when creating a preview of the Toolpaths. If geometry extends beyond this it will still be shown in the drawing area, and will still be included when cutting. Limited to sizes appropriate to the machine selection (see below)
CC jobsetup Stock Thickness.png Stock Thickness --- the physical dimension which will be used when creating a preview of the Toolpaths. There is also an option to automatically use it when setting up a Toolpath, having it cut to the "Stock Bottom" via a checkbox.
CC jobsetup Toolpath Zero.png Toolpath Zero --- this will determine where the machine will begin a cut from, and is the point where it should have the zero set to before beginning a job
CC jobsetup Material.png Material the material selected here may be used to auto-generate appropriate feeds and speeds, and when using a Nomad will result in the spindle feed being set automatically. On a Shapeoko, it will be necessary to determine an appropriate dial setting to match the feed rate, or to adjust the feed rate to match the possible dial settings of the installed trim router
CC jobsetup Machine.png Machine --- which Carbide 3D machine the job is set up for --- this will influence Stock Size and the feeds and speeds set by your Material selection. Esp. note Retract Height --- this should be set as low as is practicable for your machine, stock and workholding --- leaving it at the default will result in greatly increased cut times.
CC jobsetup Units.png Units --- these may be switched back and forth as needed
CC jobsetup Document Background.png Document Background --- brings up the pane which sets the grid, and allows setting of a background image for reference/tracing/re-drawing as shown in Carbide Create Photo Tracing
CC jobsetup Clear Drawing.png Clear Drawing --- (more detailed instructions for this at Carbide Create Basics)

Toolpaths

The settings for these may be either set automatically (check the checkbox "Set speeds automatically") in which case the values will be determined by the material selected in Job Setup (and recalculated whenever this is changed, useful for prototyping or work which uses a variety of materials), or manually, using a chip load calculator or chart.

CC toolpath wax.png

Features

  • import background image for tracing[7]
  • You can close a toolpath in CC (after the fact) by using the line or curve tool to connect two end points. Then highlight and use the join feature.

Import

  • Import DXF
    • it may help to use the OVERKILL command to eliminate any overlapping or intersecting paths before exporting from AUTOCAD
    • AutoCAD 2000 DXF format (model geometry only, base model scaling) export from the desired face (not isometric view)
    • 2004 Lines
  • Import SVG
    • no overlapping or intersecting geometry
    • no pixel images
    • some files will work more reliably when winding direction is correct (outermost path is counterclockwise, next is clockwise and alternate as needed)
    • some programs don't provide a size, specifying 100% for dimensions --- please edit them to specify dimensions (SVG is just XML) or open in Inkscape and resave

Resources

Limitations

  • Limited support for open-ended paths (they can only be used for follow path operations and even then the beginning and end points will be connected by a straight line). This can be worked around by expanding the paths in question to represent the desired geometry. In Inkscape the command for this would be: Path | Stroke to Path (Note that this command works on paths, not groups --- if your open-ended paths are part of a group you will need to either ungroup them, or sub-select only the path)
    • Toolpath | Contour | No offset toolpaths applied to open paths will close them with a straight line between the begin and end points
  • no support for auto-closing of a path when drawing it --- clicking "Done" will create an open path --- in order to close a path, one must click on the beginning point a second time (using the "Snap to Grid" feature will facilitate this).
  • no support for tabs --- manual technique and examples for them here: http://community.carbide3d.com/t/i-made-tabs-in-carbide-create/3893 or http://community.carbide3d.com/t/so3-xxl-a-noob-requesting-help-with-sheet-metal-cutting/5634/6

The software pretty much requires pointing device w/ integrated zoom (mouse w/ a scrollwheel or touchpad w/ zooming feature) since tablet screen pinch to zoom is not supported, and there is no other mechanism for controlling zoom level other than the "Reset View" button.

Shapeoko XL width limited to 812.800mm (32")

Bézier curves

These can only be smooth, and the two off-curve points associated with a given on-curve point must be the same distance, and in-line with the on-curve point.

DXF

Splines in DXF files are broken up into 100 line segments. Discussion: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=8584&p=66149#p66149 (see below for a work-around)

SVG

  • CC assumes left-hand fill rule and wants properly closed composite paths with no over-lapping geometry. One work-around is to open in Inkscape, save as SVG, open the SVG in MakerCAM, re-save as SVG, then import into Carbide Create.[10]
  • view in Outline mode before exporting --- what you see there is what Carbide Create will import --- it may be necessary to duplicate the file and outline strokes, expand paths, instantiate special effects, &c. Also convert all type to paths.
  • open paths are limited in their usage, and are auto-closed with a straight line when generating a toolpath --- best to expand the stroke so that they come in as closed paths
  • note that the system needs a bit of working room for things done with a round bit, and won't be able to reach into sharp/tight corners with a round bit --- inset or offset a path by half the endmill diameter, then set the stroke for it to the endmill diameter get a quick/dirty preview of how the path will be cut with a round endmill
  • V-carving doesn't have this limitation, but unfortunately, will not be depth-limited --- ensure that any feature which you wish to V-carve is no wider than the widest which your V-bit will cut
  • Affinity Designer files require editing to have physical size, not 100%.[11]

No copy-paste

Instead of allowing copying and pasting, control c duplicates a selection at an offset.

To take advantage of this: create one part, then set the toolpaths for that part. Then duplicate the part and arrange as desired, then for each toolpath operation, double-click the existing path and hold shift to select the same features on the remainder of the parts.

Fonts

Fonts are imported from those available to a program running with the permissions which it has. TrueType and OpenType are known to work. Probably any outline font will.

Font list and feature access is limited to that which QT affords, no rich typography, no ligatures, no family-based sorting of fonts.

Bug Reports

Note that Carbide Create and Carbide Motion are both QT applications and troubleshooting techniques and work-arounds for one may apply to the other.

  • Snap to Grid button seems to require a redundant press --- first confirms enabling it, second toggles off, normal behaviour thereafter.
  • Preview issues
    • In some instances V-carve previews use square-end tool.[12]
    • Previews may be distorted due to graphical rendering issues --- use the toolpath preview in the design window to check
  • Localizations of the decimal separator will prevent entering a decimal separator if anything other than a period is used --- change the localization to use a period (.) for a decimal separator in order to be able to enter decimals into numeric fields.
  • While .c2d files may be associated with the executables, double-clicking does not open them (but does open the application)
  • Does not remember file paths, strange defaults for where files are opened or saved.
  • When rotated object nodes will not properly snap to points and will move as if the rotation was applied to the mouse movement
  • when tabbing from field to field, text is not selected
  • The toolpath for a path will persist in the list of such after deleting a path with a toolpath.

Other issues

Driver updates sometimes needed to run.[13]

Unable to import SVG files with artboard areas larger than some unknown limit.[14]

Requires / enforces Postscript path winding (left-hand fill rule, outermost path is counter-clockwise, next path is clockwise, repeat).

Duplicated/overlapping geometry may be discarded.

Work-arounds

Chamfering --- Use a V-bit and manual paths

Feature Wish List

  • Preferences checkbox to remove the Carbide Create logo from new file created when opening the program
  • Different icon from Carbide Motion[15]
  • Option to scroll / zoom without requiring a mouse --- just a button to zoom to current selection would help immensely
  • Support interface standards --- tabbing to a text field should select the text in that field, application should remember previous folder used for any given operation and start there (exception, there should be a preference to allow CAM generation to default to the same folder as the source file is saved in)
    • Warn when closing a changed file and offer the chance to save it first
    • double-click on file should load it
    • shift click on objects should add or remove them from the current selection
    • enter/return should apply changes
    • button state should reflect application state
    • both delete and backspace should delete objects
    • automatic unit conversion in text fields 1 in should be converted to 25.4 (mm) (and vice versa) --- also allow math, following order of operations and allowing parentheses
  • construction tabs[16]
  • Bézier curves should not be constrained to off-curve points which are in-line with the on-curve point and equidistant --- one should be able to set sharp corners, and do asymmetric curves
  • Boolean operations should not result in polylines
  • Feature to inset and offset paths
  • PDF import
  • more reliable import for DXFs and SVGs
  • Bézier curve tool needs to be more flexible --- editing paths should be easier/more flexible
  • Remember machine type / use last-selected machine type.[17]

Features added:

  • ability to mirror image
  • Rounded rectangles/polygons with configurable corner radius
    • Still wanted: checkbox to set them to endmill diameter plus 10%
    • Still wanted: path option which would do this inflex and reflexively for acute and obtuse angles for arbitrary paths

Version-specific notes

System Requirements

  • 4GB RAM
  • Screen Display: 1280 x 1024
  • Windows
    • Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or 10
  • Mac:
    • OS/X 10.9 or higher