cnc router software?

Hey, I’m buying some new machines for the office and along in the quotes there is some supplimental software. I have not heard about any of it, and it is not particularly cheap. If anybody has some knowledge on this stuff it would really help me out if you could shed some light on what this stuff does and if I need it. This software is for a RouterWorks cnc-router, I’m also getting a roland mill and a roland vinyl cutter.

eSIGN2D light engraving ($315) - Can’t I use vectors to output what I want to make?

eMillPhoto(SE) relief/milling ($305) - Is this CAM/CAD photo software? Seems like live trace would do the same thing then CAM to make a tool path?

iSign +3D engraving app ($3,500) - The others are drops in the bucket but $3500 for something I have not heard of seems steep. What is this even for?

DeskProto Lite 5.0 $2k - What is this? more CAM? a glorified driver/ loader?

Contour2 PCB isolation milling (super cheap) - Is this a program people use for PCB design or am I getting hosed?

I looked on google, and really couldn’t find anything in particular to any of these programs.

What are you using the router for? You will need CAM software to process CAD info into tool paths and a post processor specific to the machine to produce NC code. CNC doesn’t know vectors or surfaces, the machines only know numbers. Look at Mastercam, expensive but will do everything. Google CNC router CAM.

Ditto for Mastercam… Works beautifully.

On the vinyl plotter tip, there are many that can run right out of Illustrator. Mimaki has a great one with Fine Cut. Don’t waste your time with iSign.

Thank you both very much, this is exactly what I needed to know. If I can use MasterCam and illustrator then I’m set, this list of junk I have not heard of before and adds several thousand to the overall price seemed fishy to me.

Mastercam certainly isn’t cheap… but you can do a ton with it.

Save $3,500 from a waste on iSign and use it to buy MasterCAM, I don’t mind spending it, but as the saying goes: The most expensive shirt in your closet is the one you do not wear. It’s not the money I care about, it’s how useful is the stuff. If I can get something else to run the same machine better then it is the better buy at twice the expense.

Mastercam is possibly overkill for a little single head office router. If you’re doing stuff in Solidworks, you should check out Visual Mill or HSMWorks, both much simpler and less expensive.

I have no idea about the vinyl cutter, but I would have thought those just used a vector based printer driver, like an Epilog does.

I’m getting a Roland Vinyl cutter and a Roland desktop 4-axis mill.