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Homemade CNC

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Why odd ?

 

Considering one myself. Had two 3D printers, one Co2 laser for cutting plastic parts, two knife cutting machines for cutting cardboard for scale models with printed textures.

 

Considering one of these: https://shop.stepcraft-systems.com/D-Series , mainly because it can carry many tools using the same mechanics. Milling, laser head, knifes, pens, 3D printer heads, etc. Good if you have limited space. Also handy as all these methods have their plus and minus sides. 

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Cool Jim. How much time and expense was involved in this project?

 

Also, the Vectorworks CAM 'Help' is pretty limited. Can you point me to any tutorials on going from VW to running a machine on a Mac? Thx

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This is the open source platform I based mine on, I made a few minor changes to some of the 3d printed parts and firmware on the control board to adapt to the weird scrap and recovered parts I was using:

https://www.v1engineering.com/specifications/

 

The total cost for me was less than $200 (if I don't count labor... which my grandfather would be very mad at me for not doing) since most of the parts I either had from a 3D printer I had built a few years ago and replaced with a larger model recently. A lot of the stepper motors came from old printers I disassembled. The control board is a RAMPS 1.4 which is the old reliable method of controlling simple robotics in a lot of the open source community. The largest expense was the cutting tool I chose, which is a new Makita trim router that holds 1/4" bits and I have collets so that it can take the more common 1/8" bits as well as the 6-8mm bits readily available from China.

I would say this only took me maybe three solid workdays to complete, of course spread across the weeks when I had scraps of free time or when I wasn't waiting on parts. I am now learning the CAM aspect of it myself.

I would say that Vectorworks is an excellent tool for either generating the original geometry from scratch or modifying it, and thats the same on Mac vs Windows. The DXF output settings are something I may share in an article after I have had a chance to confirm. BUT I have yet to find a CAM software solution on the Mac. I have been using the shareware (though I ended up buying a copy because it was so powerful) EstlCAM on windows and its quite capable. Fusion 360 is a viable Mac option I believe, but I have not learned much about its CAM solution yet.

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Cool stuff!

 

We may or may not be experimenting here at my school to get interiorcad up and running for a cnc job in furniture production (or anything else that will apply). Our team Furniture Design was looking for an ‘intuitive, flexible and intelligent’ 3D app. I may or may not have advised them to choose the obvious…

😇

Edited by Jan-Burger TROOST

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Interesting Jim. By the time one could buy the parts, build the thing, buy a (and learn) PC and CAM software, you could be into something like the Shapeoko and Carbide Create and Motion for the Mac.

 

You'd think adding CAM capability to VW would be a nature fit, eh? There isn't enough of a Mac and/or general CNC/3D Print/Laser/Carving/Cutting market to make it worthwhile for Nemetschek?

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1 minute ago, Terry Ackerman said:

Interesting Jim. By the time one could buy the parts, build the thing, buy a (and learn) PC and CAM software, you could be into something like the Shapeoko and Carbide Create and Motion for the Mac.

I don't build it myself because it's the cheapest, I build it myself because thats half the fun! 
 

2 minutes ago, Terry Ackerman said:

You'd think adding CAM capability to VW would be a nature fit, eh? There isn't enough of a Mac and/or general CNC/3D Print/Laser/Carving/Cutting market to make it worthwhile for Nemetschek?

I don't personally, honestly. We cater to a LOT of different industries already and I feel we need to significantly improve our testing, quality standards and existing tech before we attempt to dip a toe into new circles.  Though I have no idea how much of a market demand exists on the Mac side.

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5 minutes ago, Terry Ackerman said:

You'd think adding CAM capability to VW would be a nature fit, eh? There isn't enough of a Mac and/or general CNC/3D Print/Laser/Carving/Cutting market to make it worthwhile for Nemetschek?

There is a plugin/add-in from ComputerWorks in Germany that’s called InteriorCad. We’re aiming to use this for furniture making at school here very soon! Works seamlessly & cross-platform with Vectorworks…

 

Edited by Jan-Burger TROOST
Added hyperlink
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12 minutes ago, Terry Ackerman said:

You'd think adding CAM capability to VW would be a nature fit, eh?


If we were in a slightly different position in development, I'd absolutely be on top of people trying to convince them of this as well though.

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1 minute ago, Jim Wilson said:


If we were in a slightly different position in development, I'd absolutely be on top of people trying to convince them of this as well though.

Maybe acqui…, ehr teaming up with ComputerWorks would get things rolling?

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Just now, Jan-Burger TROOST said:

Maybe acqui…, ehr teaming up with ComputerWorks would get things rolling?

 

I was just thinking the same thing. I went to an intro class last night at a local 'Maker Lab' and the possibilities are endless across many disciplines. There does not seem to be anything standardized and a pile of confusing proprietary solutions. Seems like an opportunity for someone to clean it all up and make it way more user friendly and 'connected'. V-Carve seems to be the front runner, but not for Mac.

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Well, in the real world it’s all about me having the right network when I’m not capable in doing something myself. The people I work most frequently with are the ones that understand me. 

Edited by Jan-Burger TROOST

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Well, the Carbide Create app is very limited and can't even import a .dxf of a rounded rectangle. Could be operator error.

 

Lua Error:

[string "dxfreader.lua"]:1261: attempt to compare number with nil

 

Edit: I went through the Carbide Create tutorials and it was stated that the G-Code was 'pretty vanilla' and ran every CNC they tried. Not sure how you could test a Mac generated G-code if on your Homemade CNC the control is run by a PC, however.

 

Also, what is an '.svg' formatted file. It is not an option from VW, correct?

Edited by Terry Ackerman

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Terry Ackerman said:

 

Also, what is an '.svg' formatted file. It is not an option from VW, correct?

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics and is an export option from Adobe Illustrator, etc. We sometimes used it for our laser cutters, until we were able to proces native .AI files. 

Edited by Jan-Burger TROOST
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9 hours ago, Terry Ackerman said:

 

Edit: I went through the Carbide Create tutorials and it was stated that the G-Code was 'pretty vanilla' and ran every CNC they tried. Not sure how you could test a Mac generated G-code if on your Homemade CNC the control is run by a PC, however.

 

All screendumps in the link you mention are from a Mac (see button style on top). If the gcode generator is cross platform itself ‘most of the times’ it doesn’t matter to what platform the machine is connected. 

 

We use Cura for our 3D printers, which has gcode files as output as well. It doesn’t matter on what platform the Vectorworks model is exported to .STL from to be loaded in Cura. 

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1 hour ago, Jan-Burger TROOST said:

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics and is an export option from Adobe Illustrator, etc. We sometimes used it for our laser cutters, until we were able to proces native .AI files. 

Wish VW would support SVG as it gives yet another alternative to exporting to Adobe Illustrator and similar. You can use EPSF and DXF but the DXF import filter in Illustrator and many cutting programs are very unreliable.

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11 hours ago, Terry Ackerman said:

Well, the Carbide Create app is very limited and can't even import a .dxf of a rounded rectangle. Could be operator error.

 

 

It's most likely a question of using the right elements in the drawing. CAM, cutter controller, etc programs are often very limited in what they accept and can process. As a rule, it's therefore recommended to keep things as simple as possible. Avoid symbols, Polylines, Polylines defined as a filled surface (with holes in it), filled objects in general, possible groups, etc. 

 

A rounded rectangle is a Polyline and they should be avoided as they very often cause all sorts of problems.

 

Lines, arcs and polygons almost always work.

 

What you can do if you have a problem is to run the Decompose command before exporting, export, and then run Undo to get back to the civilization again. I have found that it almost always solves the problem. 

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Jan-Burger TROOST said:

Maybe acqui…, ehr teaming up with ComputerWorks would get things rolling?

 

We are not part of ComputerWorks 😉 

Edited by Nicolas Goutte

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, Nicolas Goutte said:

 

We are not part of ComputerWorks 😉 

 

I’m sorry I meant ExtraGroup of course and will edit my original post. All credits to you guys for interiorcad! 😱

Edited by Jan-Burger TROOST

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5 hours ago, Claes Lundstrom said:

Wish VW would support SVG as it gives yet another alternative to exporting to Adobe Illustrator and similar. You can use EPSF and DXF but the DXF import filter in Illustrator and many cutting programs are very unreliable.

I think its very likely we will add SVG export, its been requested now for a number of completely different reasons.

 

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JFYI interiorcad has an SVG export for 3D parts. Here's the "V" in interiorcad and as an SVG-file. The SVG has the routing contours inside the pockets, that's why the V is striped. We usually need it to export graphical information of 3D parts to third party software, in case it is needed.

Bildschirmfoto 2019-03-01 um 16.25.06.png

%22V%22.vwx

Bauteil1_Haupt.svg.zip

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MeshCAM is a cross platform option that can import .stl & .dxf files for 3d and 2d CNC. They offer a 15 day free trial.

 

Regarding importing to Carbide Create, lines and converted text to polys (groups) works. I swear I tried a rectangle with no fill and had no luck. I'll try arcs, circles and other polys to see what else does and doesn't work. There seems to be an inconsistency that I haven't figured out yet. Plus there is a scaling problem. Might be from mm/inches. As usual, workarounds need to be dreamt up to get from drawing to output.

 

Bottom line, it seems that you really need to dumb down files that are exported for the toolpath creations to the point where you wonder if simply drawing in the app is the more direct and simple solution.

 

In a perfect it word, it'd be great to simply hit 'print' for CNC, laser, 3D, vinyl cutting, etc directly from VectorWorks.

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Terry Ackerman said:

In a perfect it word, it'd be great to simply hit 'print' for CNC, laser, 3D, vinyl cutting, etc directly from VectorWorks.

 

Hit print is exactly what we do using the laser with .ai files. Apparently it comes down to the capabilities of the ‘printing’ software, not so much the source. This functions as a hub to the laser software where material settings are done. Might come in handy for VW as well?

Edited by Jan-Burger TROOST
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On 3/1/2019 at 7:09 AM, Jim Wilson said:

I think its very likely we will add SVG export, its been requested now for a number of completely different reasons.

 

 

Any idea on possible ETA? Sounds like a good additional capability. I heard back from Carbide 3d:

 

Quote

Certain .dxf files have issues with being imported into Carbide Create, I normally suggest importing .svg files as they are a bit more standardized.

 

Jim, any plans to mount a laser on your rig?

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19 hours ago, Terry Ackerman said:

 

Any idea on possible ETA? Sounds like a good additional capability. I heard back from Carbide 3d:

 

 

Jim, any plans to mount a laser on your rig?

A blue laser head should be easy to insert as it basically a small box where age milling uint is located. The Chinese ones are quite inexpensive. 

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