Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
MecSoft Corp. recently released version 2.0 of its RhinoCAM suite of CAM software for – yeah, you guessed it – Rhino 4.0 from Robert McNeel & Associates. RhinoCAM is made up of three applications that plug into Rhino. They're not stand-alone applications. In fact, one of them – called 4th Axis Module – actually plugs into RhinoCAM itself.
Now, I have to confess that, for no real reason, I am much more familiar with MecSoft's well-regarded VisualMILL stand-alone suite of CAM applications. So, when I saw the 2.0 press release, I decided to mill around the web to see what people had to say about RhinoCAM.
They love it. And one of the key reasons why — after the fact that it apparently works better than advertised — is that it is so plugged into Rhino that its user interface is virtually seamless, making it extremely easy to use. (It's one thing making a plug-in application. It's quite another to make a powerful application for a different discipline — i.e., machining versus design — a natural part of the host application. Kudos for MecSoft.)
Another key to RhinoCAM is that it focuses on CAM rather than being a CAM application weighed down with CAD features. Integration means that RhinoCAM leaves the design to Rhino, while it does the manufacturing. And this means that you can model, manufacture, and tool from within Rhino itself. And since RhinoCAM is based on the VisualMILL engine, it's real CAM, not a processed-cheese food version of CAM.
Today's Pick of the Week write-up goes into great detail on the differences between each of the three RhinoCAM modules, so I'll spare you that here. What I will say is that the suite goes from general-purpose to sophisticated, and without picking your wallet clean. Pricing ranges from $999 for the Standard edition to $3,999 for the top end, not including Rhino 4.0 of course. By top end, I mean such stuff as plunge roughing, horizontal re-roughing, 3D offset pocketing, steep area parallel machining, steep area horizontal machining, between 2 curves machining, and reverse post machining. It even offers user-defined cutters, and can handle 5-axis milling with 3+2 axis indexed milling.
So, anyway, based what I saw in the user community and knowing that VisualMILL has an excellent reputation, I recommend you see for yourself by registering for and downloading the RhinoCAM demo from the links in today's Pick of the Week write-up. If you're not ready for that, there are also a bunch of links to demos, case studies, testimonials, and so forth. RhinoCAM seems like a hot one. The price is right. So check it out.
Thanks, pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine