The world of CNC software programs is vast. There are a variety of options available for CAD, CAM, control, and simulation software used in CNCs.
While you can find several dedicated software programs for each of these functions there are only a few that can do everything, end to end.
Easel by Inventables is an all-in-one software bundle. This software can do everything including CAD, CAM, Control, and simulation within a single software.
Easel is hobbyist-friendly in that it has a smooth learning curve and masks a lot of the technical parameters you usually have to set in CNC software programs.
Easel Software Review
In this article, I will talk about various important parameters like cost, user interface, features, compatibility, and many more.
The user interface of Easel is quite simple with a minimalistic design and clear-to-read buttons.
Every important parameter has a question mark (“?”) next to it.
When you move your cursor over it, Easel displays a description box containing a summary and tips about the parameter.
This feature is helpful for beginners as it removes the need of searching about it on the internet.
The software is available in the English language only.
Easel is a web-based software and thus it is independent of any operating system. You can run it on any browser like Google Chrome or Firefox on any computer.
You can also work on your projects offline as It only needs the internet connection when you want to load a previous project or save a new one.
If you want to use Easel as control software for your CNC machine then you have to download and install a dedicated driver.
The drivers are available for all Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.
Overall, you do not need a powerful computer to run Easel as all the processing is done on the cloud.
You can run Easel even on refurbished laptops.
Features Of Easel
Easel is an all-in-one software bundle for a CNC machine. From designing what’s on your mind to controlling the machine itself, it can do everything.
All the features are easy and you can easily learn them after using it for a while.
This is the reason that makes Easel ideal for beginners.
I am listing some of the features below that Easel provides which makes the whole process of CNC milling easier.
Every CNC router is different. You have to tell the software which machine you are using so that it can change certain parameters accordingly to control the machine.
Easel comes with the general settings of the machine pre-set up in the software. These are the settings that are common for all CNC machines.
However, you can change these settings if you want but I recommend you not change them if you are a beginner.
Inventables, the manufacturer of Easel, also makes CNC machines known as X-carve. If you are using one of the X-carve machines then you can just select that from the list.
If you want to use a machine other than X-carve then first you have to download and install the Easel driver. The driver will let Easel communicate with the machine via a USB cable.
You have to provide certain parameters to Easel that are important to control the machine.
Selecting bits and materials are one such parameter. For successful CNC operation, you need to select the correct cutting tool and material.
If you are new to CNC machining then the Inventables library will help you select the correct bit for the material you are using.
It contains a list of materials and bits along with high-quality pictures that you can select directly.
Additionally, you can also add bits and materials manually in Easel which are not available in the Inventables library.
However, this feature of adding custom materials and bits is only available for Easel Pro users.
I will talk about the Easel Pro features in the latter part of the article.
Easel comes with two different cut settings options:
Automatic: In this mode Easel automatically applies the best cut settings for your selected bit-material combination. If you are a beginner then I recommend you to choose this option.
Manual: in this mode, you have to provide cut settings to the software. Easel asks for certain important parameters like feed rate, plunge rate, and depth per pass. This provides more control to you which is a good thing for experienced people.
You can also use Easel for simulating G-code before you run them on your machine to predict any errors in your G-code and prevent any mishaps from happening.
This saves your machine from damages and also prevents material wastage.
Easel can control CNC machines. This means that you can directly send G-codes to the machine without using any additional control software.
You can also use Easel as a stand-alone control software for your CNC router. However, you may encounter some bugs on certain routers.
Easel provides a function of image trace. You can import images in all generally available formats like JPEG and PNG. This feature is useful when you need to carve logos.
You can also import files in SVG, DXF, and G-code format.
Before importing DXF files though, ensure that your project in the CAD software is saved in the same measurement (inches or mm) that you are using in Easel.
It lets you adjust the machine parameters like spindle rpm. You can use the keyboard of your computer to jog the spindle. Easel can also use a Z-axis probe to zero the Z-axis of your machine.
Easel is optimized for X-carve but it can also work on any other machines without any issues.
However, you have to install the correct driver for controlling routers other than Xcarve as the software is optimized for X-carve CNC.
Additionally Easel lets you download the G-code of your design which you can use to run it on other machines.
Easel features a dedicated help tab. If you are a beginner then I highly recommend you to go through this tab before starting.
The tab is well structured and you can learn everything about Easel from here. It contains the following four sections:
Features and tools
It’s a well-structured learning guide that explains all the things from designing what is in your mind to control the machine itself.
You can select from various categories from the left-hand side of the software window.
Everything in here is explained in simple words along with the images. The guide is updated when a new feature is added in Easel.
It is a dedicated forum of Easel users made by Inventables. You can get help from here if you are stuck with something. I will talk about this in the latter part of the article.
Inventables has a collection of video tutorials about Easel. You can find them on their YouTube channel.
If you are starting with CNC machining then you might face certain issues. Easel collectively displays these generally occurring issues in this window along with its solution. It is very helpful for beginners and hobbyists.
Easel has a very short learning curve as It takes care of all the important parameters for a CNC router and takes minimum inputs from you.
It is even an ideal software for beginners as you can start making products from day one. Easel will help you in any way possible for making the learning curve flatter.
Additionally, the developer of Easel, Inventables has its own YouTube channel that offers some great resources to learn the software.
Overall, Easel is very easy to learn.
All the inputs that you need to give are quite self-explanatory. It also warns you if you make changes to important pre-set parameters.
Easel has a dedicated forum called the Inventables community forum.
The user base is diverse containing both small business owners and hobbyists.
You are likely to find solutions to any issues on this forum. Additionally, you can also get project ideas from here.
Inventables also has a dedicated page on its website containing all the frequently asked questions in the forum.
They also provide links to the helpful articles written around the software here.
Overall, Inventables is known for its X-Carve CNC machines along with Easel and thus has a huge user base. You will get every help from the internet if you get stuck.
If you face any issues when using Easel, you can contact Inventables via email or a call.
Phone support is available between 9 AM to 5 PM (CT) from Monday to Friday.
You can also call them on Sundays between 12 PM to 4 PM (CT).
Additionally, Inventables has a YouTube channel where you can find helpful videos on Easel software.
Easel is a free-to-use software in its basic version.
However, it also comes with a Pro version that has some additional features. You can get Easel pro for $20 a month or $156 ($13 a month) for a year.
The license is subscription-based which means you have to pay every month/year for using it.
Inventables provides a 30-day trial version for Easel pro which is a good thing as in the learning phase you can use all of its paid resources for free.
I recommend you to stick with Easel if you are using it as a hobby and upgrade only if you are using it for your business.
Overall, Easel offers a good price to performance ratio as it can perform all the functions required to control a CNC machine. The trial period will help you in your learning process if you are a beginner.
Easel Software is owned by Inventables which is a very popular brand among CNC hobbyists and small businesses.
Easel comes with a 30-day free trial for its pro version which gives you plenty of time for testing it.
This is quite useful for beginners, when you're unsure of which software to buy.
The main factors that make Easel attractive are its All-in-one nature, and the large community of hobbyists that use it.
Easel vs Easel Pro- What's Extra?
With Easel pro you will get the following additional features along with the features already mentioned for Easel:
V carving uses a V-shaped bit to generate designs with varying widths that allow you to make beautifully carved pieces. Easel can generate tool paths automatically for this.
Advanced toolpaths (raster carving and ramping plunges)
In raster carving the bit moves back and forth in a linear direction. On the other hand, ramping determines the angle at which it is easy for the bit to cut.
It increases the life of the bit by decreasing the wear and tear of the bit along with the advantage of less heat build-up.
Pro design library
Apart from the existing designs on Easel, the Pro contains more than 3 million additional designs that you can use.
It contains more than 300 fonts and text effects that are customizable, this allows you to bring down design time.
Additional toolbox options
Easel lets you save cut settings. It saves time if you are using the same material multiple times. Saved settings can be edited and deleted.
The feature is good for testing different bit-material combinations. You can save the setting with a detailed note about it.
It will help you learn about perfect combinations without wasting time and material if you are starting with CNC machining.
Tiling breaks down a large design into parts which can then be cut on workpieces larger than the work area of your CNC router.
For example, if you have a 2' x 4' CNC router you can slide in a 4' x 8' sheet part by part and cut the entire sheet in four steps rather than having to cut the full sheet into pieces.
You can use this option for faster turnaround times. It moves the machine head out of the way so that you can change workpieces easily. This feature is very useful for businesses.
Multiple machine profiles
If you have more than one CNC machine then you can create individual profiles for every machine. This will increase production efficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is Easel free or paid?
Easel is free but for additional features, you can upgrade to the pro version. However, you will get a 30-day free trial of the pro version initially.
Is Easel an app?
No. Easel is a browser-based software and can run on web browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox. You can run it even on refurbished laptops.
Will Easel work with any CNC?
Easel is only compatible with machines running GRBL CNC controller firmware if you want to use it as control software for your CNC. However, G-code generated from Easel can run on any CNC machine.