So far, all of the design work has been done as 3D solid modeling using Solid Works.
Next, 2D CAD files need to be created for each routed part, and I went ahead and laid out the parts on the panels so I knew how much material I’d need to bring in to work (fortunatley… I have permission to use the CNC machines on the back shift after my normal working hours). I prefer to do the 2D work in Auto CAD, as it’s faster for me.
Here’s the layouts for all three ~ 44” x 44” panels….. this is actual part geometry.
Next is to import the Auto-CAD files into the CAM software (we use a really nice package called Enroute). Here, the specific cutters (router bits) are selected from the library of our on-site tooling, and the tool paths are defined. You may be able to discern that the plate (sheet size) lines are in red lines, the part geometry is shown in black lines, through cuts are in blue lines and the 1/4” deep cuts are in maroon lines. You can see that the offsets are outboard for the perimeter and inboard for the holes…. and that the direction of cut is displayed with little arrrow tickmarks. Entry/exit criteria, feed speeds, plunge speeds, and number of passes are all selected at this stage of the game (usually via. a saved strategy for the particular material you’re using).
Not sure why I used conventional cutting when I laid this out…. we ususally select to climb cut when we CNC route… as this usually yeilds a cleaner cut edge.
After the tool paths are done, I tell the CAM software what sequence I want everything cut in… typically, all non-though cuts are done for all pieces first (to ensure the vacuum holds firm) and then through cuts are done last.
Finally, the CAM software generates a G-code file…. G-codes are ASCI text files, with the commands coded as follows:
G – line or arc movement commands… either transiting to a new location or cutting
M – control commands (spindle on/off, vacuum on/off, etc…)
S – subroutines (pre-programed macros for frequent tasks, such as tool changes)
F – feed speed
Here’s a screen shot of the first portion of one sheets G-code file….
this file has ~ 600 command lines, and will cut the first panel.
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