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  #1  
Old Thu 12 April 2007, 10:05
Sean_D
Just call me:
 
AutoCAD vs Rhino vs DesignCAD, and DXF to G-code converters

Hi all

As you might realize I'm Gerald_d's son, Sean

I'm currently using CAD to draw my tool paths plus layout the profiles on the board/material. Then I use Vector to select my start position on the cutting job, connect all profiles with a safe height, then create code for my CNC machines. I'm wondering if there are guys that use Rhino or Cobalt CAD to prepare cutting files? What processes do you go through to make code?

I'm trying to better my method to try save time for me and my customers. Is there a program that will make the g code and make out job cards for my staff? I also would like to be able to open and use other format other than dxf or dwg.
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  #2  
Old Thu 12 April 2007, 11:09
Gerald_D
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Hi Sean, fancy meeting you here! Welcome!

Just to make it clear for everyone else, Sean runs his own business www.camcraftsa.com fairly close to my current office. We mostly try to stay out of each other's hair as I have another company to run. Sean is the custodian of the big MechMate as well as a smaller ShopBot that has a MechMate gantry. His company has grown totally independent of the old man since it started in Jan 2001.

The CAD and VectorCAM date from the beginning, now he is looking for a more modern approach to running a job shop.
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  #3  
Old Thu 12 April 2007, 15:33
David Rosenbleeth
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All right Gerald-Stop preening and let him do his thing!!!
Sean: The right software depends on what you are trying to cut out. Although the "old man" and I may disagree on this, If you are doing basic parts cut outs from sheets you can import many drawing types (dxf's dwg's AI's, etc) into the Artcam version of Part Wizard that exports g-code and toolpath there, and if you need to go more sophisticated in your toolpathing Artcam Insignia will do that. Both of them have the limitation of not doing 2.5D work except for a limited number of fonts. For truly sophisticated sculpture and "3-d" work Artcam Pro is the best there is, but unless you are going to use the design tools that you are paying a steep price for it is too much money. Lots of guys have appreciated greatly the tools in the V-carve line of software for an extremely reasonable price. All of the above include drawing, import, and cam output tools to, theoretically, operate as a stand alone package, however most of us end up using a combination of ingredients to accomplish many tasks. For example, the furniture I produce is fully drawn in a cad program (in our case it is autocad although many of the much less expensive versions, such as design cad are used by many successful shops)and the lines of the parts I want to cut out are imported into Partwizard by my floor "Van" and then cut out. This tells you nothing about Rhino Cad simply since the only direct knowledge I have of it is a friend who stopped using it forever once he bought Artcam Pro, but then he specializes in "3-d" carvings.

Dave
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  #4  
Old Thu 12 April 2007, 23:39
Sean Dorrington
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HAHA

Ok. If I wanted 10 discs from you, how would you go about it?

My process would be:

Layout discs on board, draw offsets for tool path and set depth eg -3 for 3mm MDF, save as a dxf and open it in Vector. Select the discs in order to which I want them cut. Then use 'connect at z' command that will automatically insert, connect all tool paths at safe height. Then generate code.

Why I'm thinking of using Rhino Cad is because it?s half the price of AutoCAD, I would also be able to import a greater selection of file types, maybe when I?m bored make 3d models, and maybe RhinoCAM might have some uses to.

You mentioned importing AI into artcam. Do you use artcam to convert to a dxf then rework it in AutoCAD?
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  #5  
Old Thu 12 April 2007, 23:54
Gerald_D
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If you don't like the price of AutoCAD, I don't think you are going to like ArtCam either. Have you checked how the other CNC router guys around Cape Town do it? Or even the laser and plasma guys if you mostly work 2D?
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  #6  
Old Fri 13 April 2007, 04:33
David Rosenbleeth
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If I am cutting something as straightforward as 10 round (or oval or rectangular shapes) I will do it all in Part Wizard. Place 1 disc, block copy, toolpath using "machine outside vectors", save as code, open operating software, cut. The complete toolpath is generating through a vector, bit type, material spec, etc. checklist menu that includes the z settings, speed of cut, and a return home at safe z height when you are done. If you are using SB code on the old machine and g code on the new one than you can save the artwork and generate either or both operating codes.
RE: AI to DXF through Artcam. That is doable. The AI files Artcam Pro recognizes are typically an older version and it is usually better to use EPS. Exporting Vectors as DXF's is immediate and easy.
With a very low priced cad program such as Design Cad and Artcam Insignia E you can do all the parts cutout work in the world with easy toolpathing, basic design tools, and lettering within your Cad/cam package.
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  #7  
Old Fri 13 April 2007, 13:25
Evan Curtis
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TurboCAD is much less expensive than AutoCad, and the learning curve isn't as steep. How ever I have to admit I don't use it any more. I do most of my drawings in either Autocad or in Inventor(another AutoDesk product). SheetCam (actually I think the "old man" turned me onto it) is a great inexpensive 2.5 CAM program. It's being upgraded all the time and the upgrades are free. As to a program that will generate "job cards" or cut sheets or assembly sheets, I don't know of any programs other than high end cabinet programs that do this. Good Luck
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  #8  
Old Fri 13 April 2007, 15:13
dneisler
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Alibre Express, Free, and a great program.

This is what I use, and no compliants so far.
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  #9  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 02:55
Sean Dorrington
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Thanks guys. Keep sending your methods. I need to find time to try and test these them though.
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  #10  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 03:06
Sean Dorrington
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Lets change the profiles to mirror frames with 5x5mm rebates on 16mm MDF. And lets make them into 4 different sizes on 1 board.

How would you guys prepare your code. My method is always the same.

I must say i know AutoCAD rather well, its just their pricing is over the top for multi users.

Has any one used Cobalt yet?
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  #11  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 06:22
ralph hampton
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Personally I work solely in Autocad (full). I draw, offset toolpaths, and have written a whole set of autolisp files that organise polylines and output sbp files. For G code there is Tahlcam, on which I based my methods.
Doesn't do it all for you, but as a user of Acad, it is dead quick, and so far totally accurate. Plus I can tweek/add new features as I go.
R.
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  #12  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 14:01
Pierre GRAND
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An answer not completely linked with the purpose of this chapter....an artcam pro version 8.0 at 50$ sold on this store ?? It seems to be legal...!

http://oemsoftware.in/index.php?target=search
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  #13  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 15:37
David Rosenbleeth
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This is a crack site and it is NOT legal.
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  #14  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 15:48
Pierre GRAND
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Thanks for your answer !!
Back to Vectric softwares...legally!!.
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  #15  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 16:00
David Rosenbleeth
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You're welcome-I have a friend who messes with this kind of thing all the time-He told me that when you download from them there is a chance that they will enter your computer with the download and wreak havoc for "fun". Just going on their sites can be dangerous.
Best if you delete the link.
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  #16  
Old Sun 15 April 2007, 22:33
Sean Dorrington
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Hi

It seems to be that I'm on the right path by using AutoCAD. Maybe I must just bite the bullet and buy the new LT and annual subscription. Only problem is I'm wanting to employ an assistant which means I have to buy a second full package of LT and subs. Going to burn the pocket!

I must compare ARTcam, sheet cam, Vector and parts wizard. I don't do 3D modelling due to lack of software skill but I have mastered 2.5D. I have considered in making foam blanks for surf boards etc. especially when im basically on the tip of Africa!

Out of interest what would AutoCAD 2008 LT cost in the States and in the UK? I have friends travelling to and from there.
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  #17  
Old Tue 17 April 2007, 21:28
Dick van Randen
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Take a look at
http://www.intellicad.org/members/products.php

I have been using the Intellicad product for two years now, and find it more than adequate. Uses the same keyboard/mouse interface as Autocad , covers drawing formats from r12 upto the latest Dwg formats and supports VBA and LISP. Have tried other cad programs but find the combination of keyboard and mouse commands to handy to give up. The full CADopia version (this is not a lite version of auto cad)is about 1/5th the cost of full AutoCad.
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  #18  
Old Wed 18 April 2007, 11:03
Sean Dorrington
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thanks guys

My mind has been off software the last 2 days. Just installed a Vacuum table on big Mechmate.

yippeeeeeee

may it solve many problems!!!!
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  #19  
Old Sat 28 April 2007, 11:04
Steven Horrocks
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Hello.

Volvo View Express which can be downloaded for free is good

Volo View lets you open, view, mark up, measure, print, and plot AutoCAD files. Whether your data is on a network or on the Web, you can use Volo View without installing AutoCAD. You also can view Autodesk® Mechanical Desktop® 4.0 and AutoCAD Architectural Desktop? 2.0 files. (To view these files, you must download object enablers).

Volo View lets you open the following types of AutoCAD files for viewing and markup.

DWG (the standard format for saving vector graphics from within AutoCAD)

DXF? (an ASCII or binary version of an AutoCAD file)

DWF (a highly compressed format created from a DWG file)

You also can view and mark up raster images.

Inventor Files
Volo View lets you open, view, mark up, measure, and print the following types of Inventor 5 files.

IPT, or part file (stores a design component)

IAM, or assembly file (stores component relationships)

IDW, or drawing file (stores an Inventor drawing)
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  #20  
Old Sun 20 May 2007, 10:22
ger21
Just call me: Ger
 
Detroit, MI
United States of America
If you have a full copy of AutoCAD 2002 or newer, I have a macro that exports Mach3 compatible g-code from within AutoCAD.
No need to offset toolpaths, as it does cutter comp. Just draw all your parts as a single polyline, and include a leadin and leadout, and the code will include the cutter comp. You can also ramp into the cut. There are quite a few options, and it's easy to use.

http://home.comcast.net/~cncwoodwork.../AC2GCv039.zip

If I had the time and money, I'd like to get a copy of ProgeCAD (AutoCAD clone, $350) and port the macro over to that to make it accessible to more people. Unfortunately, it's not an option right now.
http://www.progesoft.com/eng_index.p...tml&MAXITEMS=4
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  #21  
Old Tue 11 September 2007, 00:58
CAM Craft
Just call me: Sean D
 
Cape Town
South Africa
AutoCAD vs Rhino, File converters

Hi all

Ok I want to find out your opinions AutoCAD 2008 LT VS Rhino 4.0?

I’m not interested in the 3D work. All I want to do is draw arcs, lines, polylines, group objects and offset polylines (in basic). I will want to create my own tool paths (2.5D). From here I will make my own gcode.

Then second question is any one using a reliable file converter that converts ADOBE illustrator and freehand files into CAD format dxf or dwg files? Please send me recommendations/links.

Thanks
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  #22  
Old Tue 11 September 2007, 04:34
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
For those that don't know it, CAM Craft is the home of the original MechMates, and SD is my son, Sean.
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  #23  
Old Tue 11 September 2007, 11:19
duluthboats
Just call me: Gary
 
Arlington, WA
United States of America
SD,
For 3D surface modeling Rhino beats AC by a long shot. Rhino has a CAM plug-in which I have not used. Rhino will export surfaces to other CAM software in many formats.

Corel Draw will export .dxf and .dwg
Gary
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  #24  
Old Tue 11 September 2007, 11:32
duluthboats
Just call me: Gary
 
Arlington, WA
United States of America
SD,
I just reread your post sorry you said you are NOT into 3D ;-). Rhino will still do everything that AC will in 2D and I think it is easier to use and cheaper. I have been using it for a long time. I also have AC because Rhino’s old version was not good at blueprints. V4 has some very good blueprint tools. I seldom even open AC anymore, only to retrieve old files.
Gary
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  #25  
Old Tue 11 September 2007, 22:13
CAM Craft
Just call me: Sean D
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Thanks. I have an issue with corel draw sometimes. The dxf that is exported is in splines and 50% of the time its distorted from true shape. Maybe there has been a update in software. It would be good for me to learn 3D in future, wish i had time.

Please keep your comments coming.
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  #26  
Old Wed 12 September 2007, 03:18
duluthboats
Just call me: Gary
 
Arlington, WA
United States of America
SD,

I find that every time you covert a file from one format to another or even different versions of the same software there can be problems. I am no fan of Corel Draw but I have used it because sometimes it was better than nothing.

I’m not sure we want rehash the many fine discussions about CAD software that you will find on forums such as CNC Zone or BoatDesign.net. As I understand it this forum is for discussions dealing with the MechMate.

Gary
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  #27  
Old Wed 12 September 2007, 07:45
Alan_c
Just call me: Alan (#11)
 
Grabouw (Western Cape)
South Africa
Send a message via Skype™ to Alan_c
Hi Sean

The best program I can reccommend for this job is Enroute3 - as both a drawing program, and G-code output (it has drivers for MACH and Shopbot).

It handles the input of *.ai files well - ie does not change the splines and bezier curves to individual line segments but keeps them as radiuses. It can also handle a large range of import formats, namely .ai, .bmp, .scv, .dwg, .dxf, .fs, .plt, .stl, .3ds, .mmr, .mmo and .cnc (g-code scan). I have to admit I dont know half of those formats but it is possible your clients may work with them and would want work cut from their software.

For Freehand its best if the client first changes them to .ai if you dont have Freehand to convert yourself.

I do most of my 2D drawing with DesignCAD 17 - an affordable package with more than enough capability for most CNC work - I think I saw a package at Incredible Connection for about R700 recently.

Alan
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  #28  
Old Wed 12 September 2007, 19:54
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
Sean,

You said you wished you had time to learn a 3D program. A couple of years ago, I bought a book that taught me how to use Inventor. I would study it at night for an hour or two and in just 3 or 4 weeks of working the exercises, it became pretty easy. Heck, if you aren't trying to build complicated assemblies and only wanted to model stuff that the Mechmate could cut, it wouldn't take more than a couple of weeks to learn at the most. You definitely need the book to get started though. I ordered it online and it had a CD which containted a student copy of the program in the back. I think the cost was $30 or $40. Later I took a class on Solidworks and the transition was fairly easy. I love solid modeling.
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  #29  
Old Wed 12 September 2007, 22:44
CAM Craft
Just call me: Sean D
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Hi Alan

Thanks, I will look into Enroute3. Are there agents in Cape Town? In the mean time I will email them direct.

You say you use designCAD to draft. So does that mean you design your “toilet seat (natwood)” on it then take it to Enroute3 to generate tool paths and code. Why not just use enroute3? Are there pros and cons?
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  #30  
Old Wed 12 September 2007, 22:46
CAM Craft
Just call me: Sean D
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Hi Doug.

Thanks, for advice. My old man is going to like your comment. One day I will get there….
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