What do y'all use for vector graphics?

People who work with the (2D) CNCs or laser cutters, what software do you like using to create/edit vector graphics?

I was shocked to learn that not only is CorelDraw still maintained, but they charge $250 a year for it. For that price I might as well get Illustrator.

Does anyone have any thoughts on less pricey options? Affinity Designer is priced more in line with my expectations for hobby use ($50 for a real license), and Inkscape is open source. Are either worth the time investment to learn?

Anybody use fusion360 for 2D work? Getting the free hobbyist license from Autodesk required minimal hoop-jumping, but I haven’t progressed much passed “hello world” tutorials in it yet.

I think Inkspace is painful to use. I’m a big fan of Illustrator.

Inkscape seems to be a big choice of Glowforge users, so theres probably a lot of resources in their forums. Did corel go to Saas model? I bought 2017 and only have to pay if i decide to upgrade

From my knowledge fusion stopped allowing exporting of dwg/svg dxf etc on the personal license last month.
Which sucks

I went in and did a test export of a dxf. I was able to export. I’m on an education license. Hopefully that is the not the reason.

What is the possibility/interest in HS getting a license. Then folks can import their files from home in F360 native format and export dxf.

Or maybe that’s not sufficiently kosher?

Yep, effective 1 October. boo!


Autodesk used to support shared seats, but they don’t anymore. All their products are transitioning to “named user” licensing:

“If Your subscription is described as “single-user,” “individual” or “named user,” then You may only assign such subscription to one (1) of Your Authorized Users. The Authorized User must (i) be identified by a unique user identification (“Autodesk ID”) and (ii) be an individual, not a group or associated with a generic login”

We wouldn’t be buying enough seats to qualify for a bulk discount. There are rumblings about free licenses for ©(3)s (which we hope to become in CY21) that aren’t “qualified educational institutions” (which we definitely will not be) but it seems to be an ill-defined process or qualification. Put it on the list of things to look into after we have our ©(3) ducks in a row.

Just going to add this- VCarve Pro Trial Edition, while primarily thought of as CAD/CAM for CNC, is a pretty good vector CAD program for the laser. I don’t think you can print TO the laser, but you can save as a .DXF vector file format.

VCPTE is not time-limited or crippled in any way except you cannot generate the final G-Code for the CNC on your client. When generating G-Code for the CNC, you must load your project on the ATXHS’ Makerspace Edition V-Carve and that machine can save it as G-Code. However, this is NOT necessary for the laser cutter. Every freeware copy of VCPTE is fully capable of vector CAD and saving the vectors as .DXF to load on the laser machine. However, while it can load bitmaps for integrated rastering into its projects on the CNC, there is no way to save these off into something the laser can integrate into something saved for the laser. The .DXF format does not support bitmaps.

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If you are a student you can get Adobe Illustrator and all of the other Adobe apps for $20 a month! I have already graduated but, I’m still only paying the $20…not sure if that is permanent though.

I’ve used Visio with both Universal and Epilog laser cutters to good effect. I have also used Inkscape.
Visio is IMO more user-friendly than Inkscape. However, inkscape’s price (free) is hard to beat and the add-ins (such as trace raster image to vector) can be powerful.

Pro tip: If Adobe tries to bump the price up on you when your subscription term ends (just happened to me a month or so ago), cancel and specify cost as the reason you’re cancelling. They’ll give you huge discounts (in my case bigger than the original discount I had) to try to keep you! They’re smart enough to know that some money is better than no money :joy: