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Essential information about the DeskProto.

What does the DeskProto CAM software offer.

DeskProto has been created to offer CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) to users with a different (non-CAM) profession. Like a designer needing a prototype, a jeweler needing a wax-model, a medic needing a brace, etc. DeskProto will quickly calculate toolpaths to be sent to a CNC milling machine.
It's key feature is ease-of-use, even for the most complex geometry. Novice users follow the wizard interface, experienced users can also directly change any setting (dual user interface).

DeskProto offers a complete set of tools: 3D machining, 2D machining and bitmap machining,
all in one program, for a very low price ! DeskProto can be combined with any 3D design program (CAD) and with any CNC milling machine. The DeskProto Multi-Axis edition includes complete rotation axis support.


bottle wireframe image
bottle shaded image
This perfume bottle has been transferred from 3D CAD to DeskProto by STL file.
On the left DeskProto screen the triangles can be seen. On the right screen a rendering of the bottle is shown: the default visualization by DeskProto.

What can you use it for

Current users show a wide variety of applications:
  • Industrial designers use DeskProto for Subtractive Rapid Prototyping (RP). Stereolithography machines and other additive RP systems are far too expensive for in-house use, however a small NC milling machine combined with DeskProto is affordable: offering Desktop Prototyping.
  • Jewelers use DeskProto to machine detailed jewelry wax models. These are ready for casting immediately (very high surface quality) and are made much faster than on any 3D wax printer.
  • Woodworkers use DeskProto both for simple shapes and for intricate relief carvings in wood.
  • Medical professionals use DeskProto for products like prostheses, insoles and braces.
  • Schools use DesProto for all the above applications, but most of all to teach students about CNC technology within a time-limited curriculum.
  • Hobbyists use DeskProto for many applications, include scale models, lithophanes and wood-reliefs.
  • For great examples of these and other applications see the Gallery of example projects.
Four editions of DeskProto are available: Free, Entry, Expert and Multi-Axis. The first two offering a subset of DeskProto's functionality. The last one adding support for rotation axes (four-axis and five-axis machine). You can compare the features of these editions in the Comparison table.


Bottle toolpaths image
The toolpath that has been calculated by DeskProto.
These movements will be sent to the CNC milling machine in an NC program file.

How does it work

The starting point for DeskProto is a CAD file. Three types of CAD-data are supported:
  • For Vector data (2D or 3D curves, filetype DXF, EPS or AI) DeskProto offers Contouring (the cutter follows each curve), Pocketing (the cutter removes all material within a closed curve) and Drilling.
  • For 3D Geometry data ("polygon data", filetype STL or DXF) DeskProto will calculate a series of toolpaths that will machine the geometry surface. All you need to do is enter a few milling parameters like the cutting tool to be used and the required accuracy. Various strategies are available in the Expert and Multi-Axis editions. No danger for damaging the model as the paths are gouge-free !
  • For Bitmap data (digital images, filetype BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, TIF) Deskproto will convert the image to a 3D relief, using a Grey-value to Z-height conversion. The relief then can be machined just like a 3D geometry.
Run the toolpaths on the desktop NC milling machine in your own office, and you will have your prototype ready within a few hours !


Bottle being machined
bottle model
Left: the CNC milling machine is milling a bottle model in tooling board, which is a very easy material to machine. Right: two separate halves glued together make a complete model.

What DeskProto does NOT offer

In order to avoid misunderstandings it is also good to briefly state what DeskProto does NOT offer:
  • With DeskProto you cannot model your geometry: for modelling a CAD program is needed instead (see the list on our Links pages ).
  • With DeskProto you cannot create slices for a Stereolithography or other layer stacking RP machines.
  • DeskProto is not meant for high-tolerance mechanisms, like a piston in a cylinder or two mold-halves having a curved closing surface.
  • DeskProto does not output step and direction pulses to directly drive a milling machine: for that you need Control software instead (see the Introduction to CAM software ).

What hardware/software is needed

DeskProto is a MS Windows application: it needs Win XP (SP3), Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10 or newer.
Non-Windows platforms are not supported, however:
DeskProto runs OK on an Apple Mac under Mac OS X using the Parallels Desktop Windows emulation software.
On 64 bits Windows versions a 64 bits DeskProto will be installed, otherwise a 32 bits version.

Minimum required hardware is a Pentium PC with 1 GB RAM and 100 GB of free disk space (the Setup only installs ca 100 MB of data, however you will need much more for your STL files and NC files).
In order to minimize waiting times a fast machine with more memory is recommended.
The 3D graphics card in your PC needs to support OpenGL (Version 3 or higher): OpenGL logo
In many cases graphics problems can be solved by downloading and installing a more recent display driver. A powerful graphics card is recommended as that will speed up drawing.