New Features in Vectric VCarve Pro 6

Vectric VCarve Pro 6 was just released last week (along with a new version of its big brother, Aspire 3). While Vectric products fall firmly in the camp of "Specialty" CAM, they still have a lot to offer for the CNC machinist - they are a superior choice for engraving, relief carving, and other similar tasks. I spent a couple hours playing around with the new features and thought I'd jot down some first impressions from a metal-working point of view. [Note: some of the videos mention Aspire instead of VCarve. That's ok- the new features are available for both. If you've never tried these programs before, check out the free trial downloads. You can find them here] Envelope Distortion Overview: This is a pretty cool. VCarve Pro has always had some features that seem to have more in common with a graphic design program like Adobe Illustrator than a traditional CAD/CAM program, and this is one of them. In brief, it allows you to bend and stretch a vector object (text, line drawing, etc.) to fit an envelope defined by two lines. The lines can be straight or curved. What's more, you can manipulate the lines after the fact by moving the editing handles. This lets you fine tune the final shape to look exactly how you want. Machinist Perspective: This feature is for the artists. If you do a lot of engraving or graphic machining, then you're probably already using VCarve Pro and you'll appreciate the utility of this feature. Envelope Distortion will let you quickly generate interesting text designs with little additional effort. Tool Path Templates Overview: This allows you to store certain toolpaths as "templates" that can be quickly applied to any future job. Machinist Perspective: I see this being really useful for somebody who is into mass customization; i.e, you make a lot of things that look similar but are slightly modified. You can very quickly apply the 90% of the tool paths that are identical between the parts and focus yoru time on the 10% that is different. Tool Database Organization Overview: You can set up different tool groupings organized by materials, jobs, features - whatever you like. Machinist Perspective: This is another time saving feature - especially if you work with different materials or want to orgainze tool groupings for different jobs. You are able to organize tools and setup up different tool libraries for aluminum, steel, etc., and save those libraries so they can be recalled for future work. Once you get a feed and speed dialed in for a particular job or feature, you store it in the software and have it ready you when you need it.  My Overall impression is steady well thought-out improvement. As I mentioned before, one of the things I really like about Vectric is the product polish and professionalism that they bring to the affordable CAM market, and VCarve Pro 6 looks to be exactly what I've come to expect. For a complete new feature and fix list, check out Vectric's site here.