Computer software options for knife design

Discussion in 'New to Knifemaking' started by Jjbarney, Dec 18, 2016.

  1. Jjbarney

    Jjbarney Member

    Just curious I'm starting my my venture into knife making as a creative outlet. I'm primarily interested in slip-joints and liner locks in more of edc gentlemens knife category. I'm interested in getting some software that I can learn for designing and cnc use. I'm curious as to what the standard is and what any of you who are using them would recommend. Also are there any good free options out there? I don't mind buying but I'll take a good free program any day...
  2. GeoffN

    GeoffN New Member

    I don't do cnc, so I can't comment on that.
    I use librecad and inkscape both free. Between the two I get most of what I need done.
  3. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Solidworks is fairly popular among Knifemakers. There are a number of similar programs that folks also use. Just about any one of them works, provided they can output to a DXF file type, or if you have a method of converting the finished file to DXF format.
  4. Self Made Knives

    Self Made Knives Well-Known Member

    Draftsight for 2d design work, great for getting mechanics of folders worked out. Fusion 360 for 3d environment and CNC, it includes CAM too. Both are free and full featured for hobbyist.
  5. ARCustomKnives

    ARCustomKnives Well-Known Member

    You'll have a hard time beating Fusion 360 for the price (free for hobbyists), and what's great is that it's getting updated all the time, and has large community behind it, so any questions that come up have likely already been answered.
  6. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Hey Drew.... where did you find Fusion 360 for free? The only thing I've been able to find on it is a trial version. The trial version won't allow for saving/exporting the file(s), nor can you actually use the files you create without purchasing the software. OK, spill the beans....what do you know that I don't about it? :)
  7. ARCustomKnives

    ARCustomKnives Well-Known Member

    It's been a while, so I don't clearly remember, but after my trial version expired, I seem to recall it gave me an option to renew/continue, and I just went ahead with it. At first it seemed like it was going to make me pay, but if you go through prompts, it will renew without needing any payment info if you're claiming use as a hobbyist. From what I understand,even the "business" license is relatively cheap, but you don't need that unless you're making over a certain amount of money (100k or so I think).

    As for saving files, I don't believe you can save them locally, just through their cloud based storage, which at first I found annoying, but it's actually a little more convenient once you get used to it. If you want to share files, there's a way to do that through links and what not, I believe, or you just log into your account from another computer with Fusion installed on it.
    Now, for exporting files to Mach 3, or some other CNC or CAM based software, I haven't quite gotten to that point yet, but I know of plenty of guys that are doing it, and there are a number of youtube vids about it as well.
  8. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    OK! Sounds like you encountered many of the same things that I did with it...... I went through the trial version, and when I tried to renew, it only gave me the option to purchase, and it was more money then I was willing to spend. Personally, I couldn't get ANY file created with the trial version of Fusion to work in any manner other then creating the file..... couldn't save, import, or use the file with any CAD machine(s) (would always get the error message "cannot open this file". I just thought you might have found a "back door" that I missed. :) I suspect they have some "safeties" built into it that forces you to pay for functionality.
  9. Self Made Knives

    Self Made Knives Well-Known Member

    Ed, what were you trying to export? The "export" option does offer you some odd choices, but for example, say you want to save a dxf file to send to water jet, then you don't use export. You open your model, go down to the sketch you want and right click on in it in the menu. Then there will be a "save as dxf" option in the list. Here's a shot of a part in 360 and the exported dxf in draftsight. As far as I can tell, there is no trial version, you just have to pick which license you want to register with. Fusion is a cloud based system which I'm still not so sure about, but it seems to keep a local copy of your work on your pc too. I'm no expert in it either, but I'm slogging through it little by little.

    Capture.JPG 360.JPG Capture.JPG ds.JPG
  10. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Yep..... I understand what you're saying, but there's some built in "safety" in Fusion that you simply can't get past with the trial version to allow for full least for me it was frustrating enough that I gave up on it. :)
  11. Jjbarney

    Jjbarney Member

    Awesome thanks for the info I'll check out those options and see where it takes me. I really do appreciate it!!!
  12. BossDog

    BossDog & Owner

    I have used Turbocad, Alibre(now Geomagic), Draftsight, MasterCam, Solidworks and now Fusion 360.
    I just renewed my annual maintenance fee for Solidworks @ $1250. That's every year. It's nuts but I needed the 3D modeling for parts we have made.
    Since I am looking to pick up some CNC equipment next year I was looking at some additional expense for CAM software. Something like double Solidworks in cost. I started learning Fusion 360. For the price and what it does, it's a steal. For the guy just wanting to draw up some knives in 2D, it's so overkill it's not even funny. Fusion 360 has some models where pricing is free. I haven't checked on the restrictions myself but will have a look at it. I am using the free version right now for practice modeling. I'll buy the license next summer when I get ready to step into CNC with some equipment. The online tutorials are fantastic and will get you up to speed -- with effort and practice. Learning a CAD program is not trivial and will take time and effort.

    Draftsight might be the best out there, for the money (free), for simple 2D sketches. Draftsight isn't free for all. It has a pricing model for businesses but makes an exception for personal use.
    I know they seemed to be shifting toward traditional CAD pricing now that they have a foot hold in the market.

    I did a quick check on the free version of Fusion360. I was able to export a solid model to Solidworks but lost the sketches in the process. Kind of a deal breaker for parametric modeling.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  13. Ruger4

    Ruger4 Well-Known Member

    its not software but 'ol faithful.........

  14. BossDog

    BossDog & Owner

    I agree. I hand sketch everything then move to CAD if I am working on a knife that needs CAD. Testing lock geometry is very helpful on CAD.
    I have been testing sketches on a tablet and then moving it over to CAD and tracing from there. It's a bit tedious but it works and I don't have paper sketches laying all over like I do now.
  15. scott.livesey

    scott.livesey Dealer - Purveyor

    I have an older release of Turbo-CAD. You can get a brand new supported copy of TurboCad designer 19 for $30 while the most current version is >$100.
  16. Jjbarney

    Jjbarney Member

    Ive been doing a lot of sketching but wanted to learn some cad and put some of them in the computer and refine them so to speak.
  17. CMS3900

    CMS3900 Well-Known Member

    Fusion is a great product. I have fooled around with it, but I usually use AutoCad only because I am most familiar with it in 2d/3d. For CAM software I have used Mastercam, but recently I tried and switched to BobCAD/CAM. Sitting next to my father with the same drawing open on two computers, I can export a .nc program faster in Bobcad than he can in Mastercam and he knows Mastercam a lot better than I do. A seat of Bobcad is reasonably priced compared to others, offer a solidworks integration option if you prefer Solidworks, and offer a pretty good art package.

    This link might be helpful for people trying to get Fusion to work:

    And some BobCad Demos:
  18. Smallshop

    Smallshop KNIFE MAKER

    I have three packages I use...they work well together.

    1) SpaceClaim...for 3D modeling...very quick to learn...faster and cheaper than SolidWorks (imo)... definitely cheaper! I used SolidWorks for about 7 years pretty much all day every day when I managed a design studio. SpaceClaim was what I went for when I started my business and was the one footing the bill. It has simple mass properties for finding/creating the balance point of a blade.

    2) Rhinoceros 3D....amazing power to create surfaces. A knife (blade portion) is a study in subtle complexity. A good surfacing tool is invaluable. This is a steeper learning curve than SpaceClaim...but a must if you want to work in "real" 3d. (as opposed to simple 3d modeling packages where you have just extruded levels play-dough style)

    3) Rhino Cam software by MecSoft that runs inside of Rhino 3D....allowing you to use all those porwerful surfacing tools to create boundaries and avoidance surfaces for machining. They have stand-alone packages also if you do not use Rhinoceros 3D.

    ALWAYS: have a fairly mature design on paper before using a CAD package. REASON: Any cad package will do some things easier than others. If you do not have a solid concept of what you want to achieve the CAD program will lead you by the nose giving you a compilation of its most user friendly abilities. Do not compromise....pencil and paper first. Rhinoceros 3D actually lets you import a jpeg of your sketch so you can construct splines right over the top of your design. This is about as close as you can get to your original intent.

    Hope this helps.
  19. Jjbarney

    Jjbarney Member

    Rhino 3D sounds like a promising option as my interest is peaked in the idea of moving a sketch into the software via a jpeg. Not sure how that is done but definitely something I need to look into!!
  20. Smallshop

    Smallshop KNIFE MAKER

    I think you can download a 30 day trial. The software is about $1k. I have not upgraded in a while. One thing I like about Rhino is you can modify the interface to keep the "tools" you like in easy to reach locations. This software has more bells and whistles than I need (probably anyone But you can hide stuff to reduce clutter on the screen.

    Support is good with the company and a user site that has lots of info.

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