Test Cuts and FINISHED!

This is a forum where you can read about builds and retrofits of existing CNC machines using CandCNC controls. We will be posting the progress of a retro of a Chinese Plasma table retofit we are going and links to videos and details of using our latest Spindle Speed control and a 4KW spindle to build a commercial; grade 4 X 8 Router table. and of adding options (like a rotary pipe cutter and oxy-fuel ) You are welcome to post your build logs and pictures. We ask you not to use this forum to post support questions or "hoe to run a machine type questions.
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Spam is not tolerated and will result in you account being locked. Foul or hateful speech is not tolerated . No political sexual, or religious comments . This is about CNC machine builds and retrofits using controllers from CanddCNC . We reserve the right to edit,or remove any post for any reason .
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admin13o5
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Test Cuts and FINISHED!

Post by admin13o5 »

The Owners of the table arrived early in the pickup day. They were excited . After having the table for almost a year and struggling to try and get it to cut something ( a single line is all they could ever cut ), tying to get help from the controls manufacturer in China and being told they needed a whole new setup, they were apprehensive about the complexity. We went to the training room and uisng the video projection and a local LINUX workstation we started out with the drawing part using Inkscape. Inkscape is a pure vector drawing program and wil import various vecto formats.

A full training course takes about 3 days but they had already been playing with Inkscape and SheetCAm so all we had to do was fillin th eblanks . A lot of users are afraid and want a "easy" way to just draw and cut in the same application . With simplicity you lose flexibility. A combo draw/CAM and CUt program sounds neat. (kinda like a combo TV. microwave oven and message chair) .

we have hundreds of designs we created (hand traced and optimized for plasma) from the early 2000's when we had our own decorative cutting operation. At the time wer were using CorelDraw and MACH2 and an old Miller plasma (later upgraded to a Hypertherm 1000 G#) . So the files were all in CDR vector format. We could have opened them in Coreldraw and export them in SVG to keep the arc and circles intact but no need to because Inkscape will import older CDR formats . We just imported them into Inkscape. We picked a popular design
texasrose600.png
texasrose600.png (42.37 KiB) Viewed 1013 times

The art was designed to be a hanging with upper and lower tabs so we could add a smaller plaque below it and hang the whole thing from a bracket.

We spent some time showing the owners of the table how to edit the drawing ,re-aize it and clean up some close cut areas) We went over the advantages of using a file format that supported complex Bezier curves versus formats like DXF where you never know what you will get

Once we had the drawing edited and sized we saved it as SVG type (native Inkscape format) and opened it up in SheetCAM .
admin13o5
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Move to SheetCAM

Post by admin13o5 »

With Inkscape still open we can fire up SheetCAM (you can do both of these on the control PC, another LINUX PC OR a Windows PC with the Windows versions of Inkscape and SheetCAM. You don't have to use Inkscape and you can infact use another Windows drawing program and import that to SheetCAM. I still recommend using SVG format for the export if that format is available. If all you can do is DXF (sign) then consider using the QCAD PRO version that will import DXF and DWG files and export in SVG.The first thing to do in SheetCAM is to setup the cut view by putting in the material (blank size. We want to use a 2 ft square piece so we open the Job Options and set the size to 24 x 24


texasRose_inSheetyCAM+options.png
texasRose_inSheetyCAM+options.png (66.1 KiB) Viewed 1012 times

Here is the SVG import into SheetCAM TNG for Linux
texasRose_Import.png
texasRose_Import.png (58.38 KiB) Viewed 1012 times
admin13o5
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Selecting Toolpaths

Post by admin13o5 »

Once we had a valid import its time to position the whole drawing on the materail where you wan it to cut. Yu sue the "nesting" button and just drag the whole thing to where you want it on the sheet.

The next process is to select the Contours you wan to cut and create cut "LAYERS" to use in an OPERATION.

In looking at the drawing we have a group of smaller closed contours in the Rose Petal . We used the EDIT CONTOURS tool to drag a box while holding down left mouse button and dragging a rectangle around the petals . They should highlight . You can also use the left mouse button and click select while you hold down the CTL key. Either way you "group contours together to cut them.

DON't GET LAZY and just select everything and let the software try and figure out what to cut first and what gets inside , outside or no offset cuts. On e of the advantages you have with a CAM program like SheetCAM is YOU decide WHAT to cut , When to cut it and How its cut.

Once you have them selected , right click the group and select Move to Layer / New Layer and name it something that reminds you which cut it is .
texasRose_petalsCut.png
texasRose_petalsCut.png (52.81 KiB) Viewed 1012 times
Now, select the other contours you want to cut . I elected to select the complex Stem part of the rose that includes part of the Texas outline.

You can see in the shot below where i made that a separate contour cut
texasRose_stemcut.png
texasRose_stemcut.png (41.75 KiB) Viewed 1012 times
Once that was done I selected the rest of the INSIDE cuts and put them all on on layer.

The two hanger holes at the top were put on a leayer .

Finally the outside cut was the last layer defined and named .

Now for the fun part: You select an OPERATION in the left of the screen and define it as a "New Jet Cutting Operation". There it opens a screen to left the select the layer (contour group) you want , the tool to cut it with and some basics settings that are preloaded with the tool that you can change if you want.


NOTE : This assumes you have loaded the toolsets and Posts we send with all systems into SheetCAM . The Plasma tools have all of the parameters defined for each thickness of material and each AMP setting on the plasma. If you have the HyT-Connect option for your Hypertherm the amps get set automatically .


Here is a shot of the Rose Petals Operation with the tool selected )16A 45 amp) and using an arc leading an no lead out.


texasRoseCAM_70percent.png
texasRoseCAM_70percent.png (204.49 KiB) Viewed 1012 times

Do the rest of the Layers using the same tool but on the outside ring cut make the cut type "Outside offset"
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djreiswig
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Location: SE Nebraska

Re: Test Cuts and FINISHED!

Post by djreiswig »

I guess I'm lazy. :? I find SheetCam does an excellent job of determining inside and outside contours on its own. In cases where it doesn't, I find that one of my cut paths has an issue and is actually a open path which needs attention. Maybe I'm missing out, but I've honestly never used the contours tool. The only time I have ever split a drawing up is when I was experimenting with slowing down on holes and I just moved them to a different layer in cad.
I do always move the start points where I want them, and change the cut order. I find SheetCam isn't so good at this.
Your post is an excellent tutorial for those just starting out with their tables. It's good to have resources like this available.
I'm sure the owners were elated to get their table back and in usable condition.
2014 Bulltear (StarLab) 4x8
C&CNC EtherCut
Mach3, SheetCam
Hypertherm PM65
Flame Torch
Pneumatic Plate Marker, Ohmic
admin13o5
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Using the POST to generate the Code

Post by admin13o5 »

Once you have the Operations defined you can reorder them if you want by dragging an Operation up or down in the list,\. You can also disable an operation and it will not cut it in the job. The unique flexibility you have with your choice of drawing programs, SheetCAM TNG with its custom settings for CommandCNC and its Real time Response and Smart DTHC , far outweighs any inconvenience of having everything in one package

We provide custom POST processors for SheetCAM that lets you do simple or complex cuts and even combine plasma with plate marking if you have that option. The DTHC settings are moved from SheetCAM to CommandCNC and the the cut via the G-code so you have no knobs to twist, no settings to change and no charts to memorize. You can, of course, override any setting you want

SheetCAMPostSelect.png
SheetCAMPostSelect.png (59.87 KiB) Viewed 1011 times
Once you select the POST one time (or import it out of the SheetCAM-CandCNC/Posts folder) it remembers it unitl you change it. Run that Job using that post and it will ask you where to put it (folder) and then report its Processing and each Operation it did and tool info. The "code" is a dialect of G_Code made for LINUXCNC (basis of CommandCNC) ALl g-code is simple lines of text. While its not essential you learn G-code (there is a G and M code manual on your control computer in the CNC folder) its handy to at least know what some of the basics are. The POST puts in lots of 'Comments" as to what its doing that can also help.

One of the things we did on this test run was to do a "dry" cut. That menas we loaded the g-code into CommandCNC and once its one the screen we selected the Disable torch using the button (which also disables the DTHC) and we let the machine do a simulated cut with the torch off so not actually cutting. it does the touch-offs but moves around and traces out the cut. Since the DTHC is off it will not adjust for warps or unlevel material so do it on relatively flat material .

Once we decided all was good we turn the disable torch off and ran the cut file. We had made usre the torch fired from CommandCNC earlier . We had tested the DTHC using a simple line test (initial Cut Test in the DTHC manual so we knew the DTHC was working.
FirstCut.png
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admin13o5
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After the Smoke Cleared

Post by admin13o5 »

The First (production) cut was run by the owners of the table. The smile on their faces told the whole story and ended months of frustration . We handed them a notebook with wiring diagrams and excerpts from manuals of their motors and drivers .

It was satisfying to know they were going to be able to fulfil their dreams of using the table to open and custom cutting businees and do artistic designs in steel to augment their line of other products .

All that was left was to load the table back on their trailer and watch them drive off inot the evening sunset. That feat is easier to say than to do and it took the two of them and 6 of use on our team to get the rotary axis , the huge table and the attached console all securely loaded and strapped down .

Before Loading: Finished Table
FinishedTable+rotary.png
FinishedTable+rotary.png (580.79 KiB) Viewed 1011 times

Almost loaded (after 1 hour of lifting, head scratching and sweat....
AlmostLoaded.png
AlmostLoaded.png (629.23 KiB) Viewed 1011 times

Ready to ROOL!


HeadedHome1.png
HeadedHome1.png (591.34 KiB) Viewed 1011 times
admin13o5
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Epitath

Post by admin13o5 »

We heard from the owners the next day and after setting it up they got stuck in an ESTOP condition. The system has a collision detection (ring on the torch holder) and it had gotten tripped and the only way to clear it is either to turn off power and hand crank the Z off the material or to go inot the Configuration Tool and temporarily set that input to "not used". We gave them a thumb drive full of plasma cut files from our decorative cutting days .So ends the saga of the China Syndrome. The owners have a table that is well built mechanically and with a modern CNC control system that has documentation and phone/online/email support .

HAPPY CUTTING!
admin13o5
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Re: Test Cuts and FINISHED!

Post by admin13o5 »

djreiswig wrote: Sun Jul 25, 2021 2:48 pm I guess I'm lazy. :? I find SheetCam does an excellent job of determining inside and outside contours on its own. In cases where it doesn't, I find that one of my cut paths has an issue and is actually a open path which needs attention. Maybe I'm missing out, but I've honestly never used the contours tool. The only time I have ever split a drawing up is when I was experimenting with slowing down on holes and I just moved them to a different layer in cad.
I do always move the start points where I want them, and change the cut order. I find SheetCam isn't so good at this.
Your post is an excellent tutorial for those just starting out with their tables. It's good to have resources like this available.
I'm sure the owners were elated to get their table back and in usable condition.
By breaking the job into defined operations you can :
1. Do detailed inside cuts fist that can cause pop=ups i always cut the detailed stuff first.
2. Drop-in code snips between operations to either pause things to let them cool or to require operator action to continue
3. Cut in any sequence you want. You can select all small holes and put them in a different layer/operation and change the feedrate , the way the DTHC handles them, and any associated settings . You don't have to remember to break them onto separate layers in CAD / Drawing

I does not take a lot more time to setup a list of operations and have them cut in the sequence you want.. I like control of my cuts and when I come back weeks , months or years later I don't have to rethink the job.
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