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Jerry Baker

CNC Programming Translation

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VW Mechanical is already a great tool for drawing prints for sheet metal work... AutoCad doesn't got too much on them... I was in the machining division of the company that I work for and noticed that they were using an older version of Mastercam to to the solids and 2d trandslations for output to the shop floor for production with CNC Lathes and Mills and thought... I wonder what I have to do to be able to accomplish the same thing with VW Mechanical. Does anyone yet have any experience using VW or VW Mechanical for the purpose of CNC Machining?

Jerry [Cool]

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The guys at work said to ask about, Wire and EDM integration for CNC Milling and Lathe also.

Hellooooo.... Any sheet metal shops out there?


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File compatibility with CNC machines is on our wish list.

Currently, you can export to dxf/dwg (which I know has it's own set of isssues for this purpose), or STL.

Some people have export to STL and run it thru a converter that will help with compatibility for CNC machines.

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I just want to get a Script to convert Vectorworks files to adjust for tool size on my CNC machine. Anyone know of an easy to use translator script or program?

It should allow you to set for example a 3mm tool size and then adjust inside and outside cuts by the 1.5mm offset automatically.



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Currently we are using VW 10.5 to develop geometry for a WireEDM (specificly and AGIETRON NC100/3 controller). At present, the actual NC code is generated in SmartCAM 11.5 (which is out of business).

What we have learned is the following:

1. Simple geometry works best, (arcs, circles, lines) complex geometry causes odd results.

2. VW's can export DWG to CAM programs with good accuracy.

3. Taking a 2-D slice from a 3-D solid is 99% likely to generate garabage.

What we have not tried is the IGES output from VW to a CAM package, but it is on the "to do" list and once I have some results I will post it.

We are working on a CAM package to work with VW, the current version is a stand alone that reads in VW files. Its an EARLY ALPHA, and lots of functions are hardcoded for the AGIE. So do not call me for a copy, it will eat your harddrive and set your dog on fire in its current state.

We would like to develop a CAM system that will operate inside VW or in tandum with it, depending on what works best (if there is enough interest in such a product).I would like input on what are you looking for in a CAM system? Please keep in mind that the first version would be a 2-D CAM application.

Finally if you are in the Chicagoland area, and have a CNC machine (other than WireEDM AGIE's) that I can use for testing please send me an e-mail.


Ron Kenyeri

[ 06-09-2004, 08:40 PM: Message edited by: rlkenyeri ]

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Have you a sample of the files your CNC can read? I've add a few import and export plugins to VW on HPGL and other existing formats to use on plotter cutters.

For specific sail design applications I've develop a couple of personal formats: next step is to get a controller and experiment a bit.

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At the moment I am only outputing G-code, with the modified:


G43 TO1 PO1 DO1

G44 etc

G40 etc



Translation header code required for the AGIE NC 100/C controller. Input is a VW file (simple geometry only), 10.1.5 at the moment (I think). Its a command prompt app which is reading a fixed file name from a fixed directory, its a custom app for a custom operation, that the machine runs over and over. Like I said its not pretty...

But I see its potential and I want to expand into a general CAM package.



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I've started using an MCAD package called Alibre Design. Though I still prefer VW for 2d drafting, Alibre is an excellent mechanical modeling package. The 3d constraints are fabulous when compared to struggling with VW 3d snaps, not to mention fully associative BOM and 2d views. The Pro version comes with a license for VisualMill, which will output G-Code for the parts you model (after defining toolpaths). I'm itching to try out a couple of parts on my buddy's ProtoTrac, as this will REALLY help my production.

They have a special offer currently for folks with AutoCAD LT licenses, which I happened to have from a job I did several years back. When I mentioned that I used mainly used Vectorworks, the sales rep mentioned that they had some discount offers for VW users also.

Though I have no intention of leaving VW entirely, Alibre is certainly filling a hole for me right now.

You can check it out at:


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Have been using Vector Works for 3 years drawing 2D and exporting to lathe and milling machine in dxf. format. Has been problem with Vector Works to kepp lines to lines and lines to arcs close enough so it will transfer flawlessly into CNC machine.

I was upgrading to VW.11 and I am hoping it is better on this than previous versions. I would very much like to use VW.more for my CNC work.

Hope these guis will add a pakkage to VW.mechanical for 2D and 3D CNC use.

regards: [Wink]


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Here in Perth western australia there are two users I know of that are chasing CNC capability as well - the problem being that CNC machine manufactureres all seem to like to preserve their territory by having their own programs and / or file formats.

Notwithstanding this there is a need to improve on the CAM side of the spectrum so that users can selerct VW by choice and not be forced into a compromise.

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