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Sawdust Wrangler
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482 Posts
Hi.

I don't know how 'professional' this program - that I am about to mention - might be considered to be, but it certainly is well-heeled, and also VERY cost effective (free). The name of this program is Google Sketchup. I am getting my feet wet with it, and really loving it. You may want to give it a shot, as it could very well be something quite workable for you. I find that I (also a woodworker) need no other program for my product design efforts.
I agree, one may start out on the free version, learn the program and, if it appears to work out, switch to the paid version and gain a few extras. I've been working with it for months now and it does everything I want it to do.
 

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Sawdust Wrangler
Joined
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482 Posts
The free version is great for semi professional work.

The Pro Version is a bit more costly (Around $450) and is very full featured design program. Its 3D intersection capability for combining externally designed parts is fantastic. The ability to extrude is enhanced in the pro version. But if you are looking for 3D design tools, I think you should at least look at SketchUp 8.0. And read up on the Pro version. I have used both and I find them imprtessive.

It is not CAD or CNC oriented, but I think you can get bolt-ons. You would have to check.

Here is one link for G-code and Sketchup (CNC)
https://sites.google.com/site/sketchuptogcode/

If you get version 7.1 of sketchup and install that version before you install the newest version you will have DXF import ability in the free version. They took it out in version 8.0. Only issue is, if you have 8 or higher already installed, 7/1 will not go on...

Other than some not so good CAD importers (that I am aware of, not saying they do not exist) you need the native importers that exist within the PRO version of sketchup

Hope this helps

Paul

Although, I wonder if G-code will eventually give way to the 3-D printer language.
 
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