We have used VisualCAD/CAM (VisualMILL) at the University of Göteborg, HDK – Academy of Design and Crafts since version 5. When we were looking for a CNC software, the main goal was compatibility and user-friendliness. Because we are a design school, the focus is not on the students becoming CNC operators. It is usually the workshop technicians that help the students with the CNC programming. When students have larger projects we show them how VisualMILL is used.
VisualMILL has proven to be easy for the students to familiarize themselves with. We have students who only use the CNC once and for example only have experience in Adobe Illustrator. They typically want to mill out shapes in a sheet of plywood and they do not have any problems. The VisualMILL interface is logical and easy to understand. The students can easily find the functions they are looking for. With a short tutorial, they soon make their own Gcode.
Today we are mainly using Rhino3D to prepare files for milling. We started using the RhinoCam plugin but now we have expanded the CAD softwares with Modo, Solidworks, Blender, SketchUp and Inventor. For this reason we have switched to the standalone VisualMILL.
The interesting thing is that we have not had any compatibility problems with importing files from the various 3D software we use. We have also successfully used files from photogrammetry and scan data from our GOM Atos 1. Scan data files of 300 MB are no longer a problem and the Multithreading function in 2018 is fantastic when creating NC code on scandata!
The university also has a Bridgeport metal milling machine with the ProtoTrak2 system. It is an old machine and we can only communicate with the machine via floppy disk but we have now switched to VisualMILL also on this milling machine thanks to Mecsoft extensive list of post-processors available on their website.
Our 4 axis system is not computer controlled. The milling project shown here that Kim Engdahl made consists of 4 separate 3-axis milling toolpaths. We rotate the material 90 degrees by hand between each milling operation. It creates the same exact milling as a controlled system, but it becomes much easier to control collisions for example.
In conclusion, I can say that we are very satisfied with the functions in VisualMILL, both drilling, 3D and 2D milling which are easy for both staff and students to familiarize themselves with.