Let's beat a dead horse! RhinoCAM vs. madCAM

I am currently the sole 2D/3D designer at a wood & glass fabrication facility, where I draw our shop drawings and also run our CNC mill.

For most of the simple work, like sign making and mouldings and such, Vectric’s V-Carve Pro is what I use to create the toolpaths for our ShopBot PRS Alpha. But as of late, we are getting into more complex 3D designs that are beyond the capabilities that V-Carve Pro can produce. I have played with Aspire for some of the 3D stuff, but it still seems lacking, and I can’t/don’t want to justify the added cost of some software that won’t really speed up productivity all that much.

I have recently been looking into RhinoCAM and madCAM, and if I can work solely in Rhino to create the designs and toolpaths, I think this might be a justifiable solution, and don’t mind spending the money on software IF it works, and makes for a more efficient workflow.

I haven’t found any CURRENT threads/posts/articles/etc comparing the two, so I figured I’d ask here. Is there another plug-in/application that is new/better? I’m just curious as to what other people are using, and pros and cons to each.

Thanks in advance!

Do you have an example of what kind of 3D designs you have difficulties with?

If you want go all the way with custom 3D postprocessor possibilities you can use grasshopper to generate the machinecode for shopbot. I’ve been experimenting a bit with that. See http://www.siemencuypers.com/gcode-cnc-experiments. It requires some understanding of grasshopper but then you’re able to solve many 3d milling problem by making your own custom toolpaths.

I designed this in Rhino and then imported the .3dm into V-Carve and this is how the edges come out. This is just one of many examples of how curved edges get lost in translation for me. This is the rendered view in V-Carve. It also shows the toolpaths all jagged near the edges. I’ve posted on the vectric forums, and have tried numerous fixes, like adjusting the resolution, adding a z-zero plane, to no avail.

I see. Can’t help you with RhinoCAM or madCAM, as I haven’t used either, but I’m interested in other peoples experiences.

For this specific example, could it be helpful to use a v-bit on 2d curves for the v-carve /engraving toolpath? Or is a round bottom necessary?

The problem is, though, even trying to use a v-bit on 2d curves, the curves are still jagged on the 3d model, so the only way to get smooth curves is importing it into V-Carve as a vector. That kind of defeats the purpose, and hinders productivity, it seems like.

Side note, I just got finished with a GoToMeeting with Uday and Don at MecSoft giving me a demo of RhinoCAM. If I’m going to spend any money on more software, it looks like money would be better spent going with RhinoCAM than anything Vectric has to offer. Currently, for the simple stuff like sign making, lettering, mouldings, etc, V-Carve Pro is working fine. But if we start getting into more complex 3D stuff like the project that I’m currently working on, then I’d be way better off creating the 3D toolpaths in RhinoCAM.

It’s hard to predict the future of our business, and dropping a huge chunk of change on software is a risk that I’m not sure is going to pay off in the long run. Sigh…

Hey siemen,
You might be on to something there, though. This design I think will look really nice if I cut it out with a v-bit…

I’m going to play with it and see…

try fusion360.

that will open rhino files (albeit, via cloud)… might do the trick.

Just for the heck of it, try exporting an STL (if you have not already tried that) instead of the 3dm. Its possible Vectric is only using the display mesh, or is poorly meshing/rasterizing the nurbs surfaces.

I can help with any madCAM questions. We’ve been madCAM users since 2008. I’ve only done demos of Mecsoft’s products. I find between the two, madCAM is better integrated into Rhino. It feels more natural as a Rhino user as it uses the layer pane and standard Rhino toolbars and icons. RhinoCAM feels like a different product forcing it’s way into the Rhino environment. Personally, if I was to go with a Mecsoft product, I would probably opt for VisualMill instead of RhinoCAM as the standalone VisualMill would seem like less of an intrusion into my Rhino user experience. I suppose it makes sense, since madCAM is written for Rhino, but RhinoCAM uses ModuleWorks components that run “on top” of Rhino. This is my own personal observation, perhaps for you it wouldn’t be an issue.

Another benefit of madCAM is that you can customize it with scripts and macros, so you can automate your programming to some degree. I don’t know if that’s possible with RhinoCAM.

I would be happy to address any specific madCAM questions.


Have a look at DeskProto. It’s not a plugin, but works fine with .stl export from Rhino. I used it some years ago for making mockups and moulds for thermoforming. - www.deskproto.com

Thanks jeff, add another program to the list to try :stuck_out_tongue: Fusion 360 looks promising, the price is right, but now it’s like learning to ride a bike all over again.

I’ve tried exporting the Rhino 3d model as a mesh with the smallest angles/super high rez as possible…Still have the jagged edges.

Thanks Dan, I downloaded madCAM’s plug-in, but haven’t played with it yet, but if I need some assistance, I know where to ask!

DeskProto looks promising as well. Thanks raja. Too many choices now! At least I have some things to keep me busy over the next few days!

For this particular part, I think siemen’s suggestion of using a v-bit to cut out the design might work. I’m going to redraw the vector curves and try that for now. That would definitely cut down the machining time 10-fold, for sure, as opposed to 3D carving…Screenshots to follow…

You can discuss madCAM here:


If you ask any questions there I will be sure to see them.


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Yeah, also what I wanted to point out. It’s way faster then 3d milling and perhaps you can combine it with some fluting toolpaths. Curious of the results.

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This was created with V-Carve and a pointed bit, using only vector paths set on the surface of the board. All of the depth of cut data etc was generated automatically. It was fascinating to watch it being cut and needed so little cleaning up afterwards it had to be seen to be believed…


i’d rather just be able to use one of the two packages in the thread title… neither of them are available for mac.
so i’m trying fusion instead…
if you learn it then i can ask you questions about it… hence my sales pitch :wink:

I get a free year subscription of Fusion 360 with the ShopBot, so I’m going to give it a go!

I don’t think I can swallow the $3400-5000 for Rhinocam!

At $25/mo for Fusion 360 license, I think I can swing that, if it works out. Looks good so far

Hi Matt, I’m trying to figure out how the crisp, square corners and edges were created …

the bit is V shaped and it can move up/down while also traveling in the 2D directions… so it can make pointed corners when working 3 axis.


Thanks Jeff, I get it now, the bit runs up the edge at the angle of the vee cutter.

I redrew the design in V-Carve with with cleaner bezier curves from the imported Rhino 3d model used as a guide.
I then used a v-bit toolpath to generate this:

I haven’t cut it out yet, but I kinda like the overall look using the v-bit as opposed to a 3d toolpath using a ball end mill.