How can I get an estimate of how long the toolpath will take to actually cut?
You will find Estimated Machining Times associated with toolpaths found in different places depending on the program and the summary list below should help.
For all the programs, you have to take some steps to make this estimate as accurate as possible for your machine.
First, set the Rapid Rate to the correct value and units for your machine. For most machines, this is set in the software that controls the machine.
Then, actually time some toolpaths at your machine and adjust the Scale Factor for those toolpaths until the Estimated time for that toolpath is close to the actual time you measured.
After you do this a few times, the best Scale Factor for your machine should become clearer.
Note: This is only an estimate and does not include any adjustments the machine's control system may make such as Acceleration/Deceleration settings. As such, it is hard to find one scale factor that will work with all the types of toolpaths. However, it should get you close and help with quotes and machining decisions.
Where to find the Estimated Machining Times:
Cut3D: At the bottom of the Roughing, Finishing and Cutout Toolpath Setup pages and on the Preview Machining page where you can adjust the Rapid Rate and Scale Factor.
PhotoVCarve: On the Preview & Save Toolpath page.
Aspire and VCarve Pro: Click on the Toolpaths Summary icon on the Toolpath Tab that will open a summary sheet showing the individual times for all the calculated toolpaths and a Total Machining Time. Or you can hover the mouse over the name of the Toolpath in the Toolpath List and the tool-tip will pop up with informaiton about the toolpath including the Estimated Time.