Workflow – Idea to Drawing to CAD to CAM to Cutting
Cutting components with a CNC machine is a drastically easier method than it applied to be. But it is nonetheless straightforward to get sidetracked, confused, or downright lost if you never set up some requirements for the organization of your workflow. Based on your memory is just as well frustrating, and even if you can dependably hold track of the CAD, CAM and cutting files, it just is not a fantastic use of “psychic RAM”.
Possessing a constant workflow, and a constant filing program for your CNC projects will give you the most efficiency with the minimum investment in time and dollars.
1 of the very best tools that I have identified for my CNC projects is an application named DropBox. DropBox gives on line storage, that is accessible by way of any online connection (either challenging-wired or wireless), and permits you to access that storage from any laptop that you have set up with your account facts. DropBox also keeps a copy of every file “locally” on every of your computer systems, and it updates these files automatically to match the most up-to-date version.
So, how does this operate in a “genuine planet” scenario? The laptop that I really use to handle my CNC router and CNC hot-wire foam cutter is out in my workshop. And, despite the fact that I could undoubtedly do all of my designing, drawing, and programming on that machine, I just never discover it incredibly comfy or accessible. I favor to operate in a quiet, comfy chair, on my laptop laptop in my property workplace.
So, I develop the CAD drawings of the components that I am going to reduce (working with DevCadCamPro or Corel Draw). I lay out the actual components to be reduce in my CAM plan of selection which is Vectric Cut2D. And then I export the actual gCode cutting files from Cut2D. I save ALL of these files in folders inside DropBox. Then, when I am prepared to reduce components, I can access the DropBox folders from my “cutting” laptop, and if something requirements a minor tweak or modification, I can do that correct at the “Cutting machine”.
I use a constant folder structure, so that I can discover something that I am searching for incredibly rapidly. Every single project gets it really is personal committed folder. For instance, I am developing a 1/three scale radio controlled model of a Thomas-Morse S4E (a Globe War I biplane.) So I made a folder named “R/C Airplane Projects”. Inside that folder is a folder named “Thomas-Morse S4E”. Inside that folder, I two added sub-folders named “S4E Active” and “S4E” archive. Inside every of these folders are folders for the main categories of components…. “Wing Ribs”, “Fuselage Bulkheads”, “Landing Gear”, and so forth.
This could appear to be definitely anal retentive, but obtaining this properly defined file structure requires all of the unnecessary pondering out of the method, and permits me to concentrate on the gamesmanship of drawing, programming, and cutting fantastic components.
When I have the folders made, I can go by way of the method of drawing a aspect in DevCad or CorelDraw. I save every drawing with a descriptive name (anything like “Upper Wing Ribs”) and I also place a handful of initials correct in the file name, to indicate what sort of file it is. A common file name may possibly be “UpperRibs_DVCD” which tells me that this file was made with DevCadCamPro. Yes… I know that the Windows operating program will develop the suffixes automatically, but in some cases these can get confusing, and I want to be in a position to determine almost everything at a glance.
I also save the Vectric Cut2D files in the exact same folder, with a “C2D” appended into the file name. When I produce the GCode in Reduce 2D, I use the exact same naming structure, but start out the file name with “Reduce”, and also enter a code that reminds me of the material thickness and the cutter diameter. So, the G Code file for my Mach3 application will appear anything like this…. Reduce_TMS4E_UP_Ribs_18_035.
I can glance at this label and know that this is the GCode cutting file… for the Thomas-Morse S4E upper wing ribs, and that they will be reduce from 1/eight” thick balsa wood, with a.035″ router bit.
Suitable now, you are almost certainly saying to your self “this guy is some sort of a nut. I never have to go to all that difficulty”. And then, when you are searching a sea of file names that never ring any bells… you are going to transform your opinion and determine that possibly I am not so nuts following all. it really is your selection.. but I know that I can sleep far better at evening recognizing that I can discover any file that I have to have… months following the project was initially made.
In the course of the project, if I discover that I have to have to make a substantial transform to any of the files, I will move the current files into the “Archive” sub-folder for the project, and then save the new, replacement files in the “Active” folder. This way, if I do have to go back and do some “CNC Archaelogy” and reconstruct a project, I will nonetheless have the original files obtainable to operate from.
Oh yes… I forgot to mention… DropBox is Free of charge (for up to two gigabytes of on line storage.) Bigger storage limits are obtainable for incredibly nominal charge. And, DropBox will operate fine with Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems. I use my DropBox account with each my Windows and Mac machines, and access and modify files involving all of them.
(Disclaimer – In the interests of transparency and openness… this weblog is becoming written on my MacBook Pro, though I am sitting in my favored coffee shop. I am saving the text file as I go into my DropBox account, and will post it into the ABC's of CNC weblog when I get back into my workplace!)