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CNC Design Process

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:19 am
by tylerv
I'm fairly new to CNC machines and as such, I want to make sure I've got the general design process down.

From all the websites I've read and whatnot, I've created a flowchart of the design process from either a physical object (or just the idea of what to make) all the way to a finished physical object.

I'd like to hear what people have to say about it. Experience is worth several thousand words, or something like that.

Re: CNC Design Process

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:44 am
by cpdude
Hey Leon,

In my experience with my DIY CNC router the CAM process is where the g-gode file is generated. I'm using a program called CamBam. This program takes a DXF file and generates numeric or g-gode file. It also does other things like compensating for the tool width and allowing my to add holding tabs.


p.s. I don't have to generate g-gode with the FSE RetinaEngrave card and software.

Re: CNC Design Process

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:22 pm
by bdring
That is basically the correct flow. A good controller can pull a few of those steps out and make it more like printing.

Which way you go, depends on your background and what you plan to fabricate. Most people with a CNC background have trouble giving away too much control. I personally prefer the G-Code route over the printer route. I like to be able to control the offsets for the kerf and even the direction and order of the cuts. I feel more connected to the machine through G-Code.

If you were setting up a machine at a school, tech shop or hackerspace, I would go with the "printer" method and buy a commercial controller.

Re: CNC Design Process

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:50 pm
by pwvandeursen
So as a complete beginner, which software packages should I bee looking at to make this work? for the real basics, I use Windows, and am looking to build a CNC with audrino powered stepper motors.

Wat is the easiest combination to start with assuming I have limited programming skills, have limited knowledge of audrino, but would like to start with making a simple drawing into a wooden reality.....

Sorry for the real basics here, and if this is in the wrong section or if I have hyjacked the wrong post please let me know where to put it.


Re: CNC Design Process

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:26 pm
by BenJackson
Between "laser makes the object" and "real-life object" I'd insert "assembly" with optional "additional hardware".

As a complete beginner I'd point you at building a 3D printer kit such as MakerGear's Mosaic or MakerBot's Thing-o-Matic. Both are cheaper than any laser cutter. Designing objects for a 3D printer is much easier and the CAM step is mostly automatic. The downside is that a 3D printer is much slower and typically you will be limited to small objects.

Re: CNC Design Process

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:20 pm
by bdring
I got started in a backwards way. I had some steppers motors laying around and decided to try and build something with them. I started with a cheap driver board and the demo version of Mach3. I just ran the motors by themselves until I felt comfortable with the whole process. You can do that for less than $100.

I decided to go the CNC router direction as my first project. I have access to lasers, 3D printers, lathes, mills and more. My "go to" CNC tool is still my router. It has proven to be the most versatile tool in the long run.