I wish there was an entry-level CAM solution for Rhino3D

I wish there was an entry-level CAM solution for Rhino3D.

Ironically, PyCAM could be integrated, fairly easily. Code for pocketing can various other small things as well can be found in NativeCAM for LinuxCNC.


Grunblau has a set of Grasshopper scripts that look promising - if you are willing to spend some time tinkering.

I have a Grasshopper script that I am working on for 4-axis Wire EDM programming.
It is really not super difficult.


Denbutler, Thanks : )

There is a link here: http://www.grunblau.com/ghcode.htm

Wire EDM is cool. I watched that series the man from Texas has on the internet. I have some tool-steel parts in the garage that were likely wire-EDMed before they were ground.

Jens Dyvik started working on a grasshopper plug-in that creates g-code from rhino geometry: https://github.com/fellesverkstedet/Bark-beetle-parametric-toolpaths. There are a lot of nice features and I use it for production purpose quite often. But it’s also under slow development and still a lot of room for improvement which we’re slowly working on.


MadCAM 3X at $995 is one of the lowest-priced professional “Entry-level” CAM for Rhino.
RhinoCAM Mill Standard is also good at $1500.


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I just tried this out and the first thing I try is making a rectangle and set it as a profiling toolpath…
Takes 55 seconds on my computer to calculate. There’s a heavy password protected cluster that simplifies the curve (?) but it is set to “False”. When I try setting that to True it takes the same amount of time to calculate.
Looking further at options and interface made me stop looking further into this definition. From what I’ve seen I’d say this is far from an entry-level CAM solution and cannot imagine anybody being tempted to pay for getting more features.

You can have a look at Bark Beetle, which I shared the link for before and if you have any questions I can try to help you out. I’m sure there’s things that might not be straight forward either for others but it’s good to get feedback on that so we can improve things. Everything’s open source as well, no password-protected clusters, so you can customize the setup to your workflow.

What kind of stuff are you looking into doing with it? 3 axis? 3D milling?

I don’t think the business incentive is there for anyone to create anything more entry level than the options that snitch mentioned. Have you looked at Fusion360. It’s only a few clicks away via Rhino>Step>F360. They have a nice toolset for this. And very low cost, or free if you are not using it to make over $100k (t think).

Fusion360 has indeed a quite extended toolset but (I think) it gives too many options for being entry-level. There are those pop-up windows which explain what everything does but I feel like there’s just too much information coming at you if you’re getting started.

I haven’t used it for CAM myself but the folks in our makerspace seem to like it, the usability seems to be one of the big reasons why people understand it and embrace it. Also there’s lots of tutorials out there for it.

Siemen, less than a minute is fine for calculation, as long as it’s reliable. Bits, drills, material, and cutters cost more than computer time.

Password protected? Interesting, and not in a good way.

Fusion360 and done a lot of market penetration because it has CAM built in, unfortunately. It’s an arms-race for design solutions.

Aside from a large (400mm x 200mm x 1000mm ) 3D printer, I’ve been building a garden-variety CNC machine from recycled chip fabrication parts. I am actually further along than shown this video. I am sorry about my garage work-space, but when youtube demonitied all the small channels, it kept me from renting a proper space. Still, this is a low-buck operation. I put a lot of handwork building this thing.

And because this is a low-buck operation, spending a lot of money to generate tool paths is out of the question.


I have a few uses for the machine: I’ve done some speaker design and guitar making, and this machine is just big enough for that. While I have the chance, I am going to make some video equipment. I have some harmonic drives kicking around here, that would be good for an Arduino-controlled auto-panning rig. It seems like I am always needing little brackets for things, and this machine, as ugly as it is should be sturdy enough for milling aluminum, as long as the depth of cut isn’t too aggressive. I just need to get a spindle motor, but money is tight right now, as always.

I will check out that software after my guitar practice.
I wonder if there should be a front-end interface kit for Grasshopper projects.

That “less than a minute” (55 seconds) was only for a simple square. I first tried a set of scaled voronoi curves to compare speed with bark beetle, and after 10 minutes of waiting I shut down rhino as it wasn’t responding.

Edit: for comparison, this is 3,5 seconds using bark beetle:

The whole definition is made using only standard grasshopper components and perhaps 1 or 2 python scripts. I guess this could be optimized more using C# or Python but neither of us is properly skilled at that.

I believe bits, drills, material and cutters cost less than computer time + your time waiting behind the computer.

Then you might also be interested in this: GitHub - fellesverkstedet/fabricatable-machines: Motion systems for flexible digital fabrication and research. Easy to fabricate and customize. Documentation: https://github.com/fellesverkstedet/fabricatable-machines/wiki.

Do you mean like Human UI?

In Bark Beetle there’s a trochoidal milling function which generates a toolpath optimal for cutting soft metal in an efficient way. Here’s a video showing this process in soft steel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i61cy7aAi8A
In fusion there’s the adaptive clearing which is also quite useful for making deeper cuts in one go.

I’m curious how you’re developing and implementing the 4 axis code. I currently use BobCad/BobWire to generate code for a 4 axis hotwire CNC but find it overly complicated. I’d be interested in helping you develop what you have somehow. Any interest?

What make/model EDM?

Greetings Josh,

I’m working on old 1990’s Charmilles machines - 290 300 310 and similar.

The .gh file is super alpha - not even all there yet, let alone testable.

Single curve - all joined - representing the XY and UV planes (2 curves)

Simplify, Offset by the wire radius plus overburn - user defined, length of XY curve.
Divide length by the desired resolution at the XY plane - user defined. .0003 or something.
This gives number of segments.
Divide UV offset curve length by the same segment number.
Get the coordinate list for each - XY and UV
Strip off the Z values, and difference the U from the X and the V from the Y
Combine the XYUV coordinates on a list - Forgot how exactly, but it does.

This gives the body of the file that should be usable on any wire machine produced after about 1985.
The Header and Footer are built separately, and are machine/controller dependent.

Email me if you want to explore development collaboration.
You can find me on linkedin.

Why are you offsetting the path in Rhino? I always use G41 in the code then something like
COE,0 ; 0 stop on error
in a command file, use CLE to add\subtract from the default offset.


Wow, Bark Beetle looks like the prefect tool for me. I’m currently using Fusion but find the export, open, test tool path, return to Rhino a killer to my workflow.

That’s one of the reasons for starting work on Bark Beetle.
If you set your panel with the machine code to stream to a dropbox folder which is connected to the computer that runs the code on the cnc-machine you don’t need to export anything. So when you make any changes the code gets updated automatically. This makes it super efficient for prototyping or testing speeds as well.

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There is also 5Xmonkey, a grasshopper 5 axis script, made by 5 axis maker.
And it is opensource.

Greetings Mark,

Yep - the offset is set up to prove the concept. G40 G41 G42 will be used in a later version.

I developed a reasonably fully-featured 2.5D CAM plug-in using python at my last job. Most unfortunately, they still own that code so I can’t publish it. However, I can tell you that you can get much faster results just using simple rhinopython/common functions. It’s mostly an organizational task. That, and learning the gcode implementation of your machine by heart. Sorry, would love to sell cheap subscriptions for it!

Hello Brenda,

Yes there is !!

RhinoCAM 2018 - XPRESS is only $600. Includes 2-axis, 3-axis milling as well as a NEST and an ART module.
This link might help: https://mecsoft.com/rhinocam-mill/