Good day everyone.
Bare with me, I am very new to all this.
First off I would like to give a big thank you to V1ENGINEERING for all the efforts that have been put into making the CNC options affordable and buildable by individuals with a passion to create.
My back ground is in two dimensional design, primarily for the sign and graphics industry. I am wanting to use the Lowrider to take my creations to a new level. My plans are to create a universal table for plasma cutting, routing and I envision laser etching would be a realistic addition.
I am asking for the advise of the users in the software you use to create and prepare your files for output. I am sure the CAD business has very complicated design software and also less than useful options and a good full feature option may lie somewhere in between .
Thank you in advance for any advice. I am looking forward to my build and sharing my future creations with everyone.
You can do the design in anything. The common formats for 2D or 2.5D (2D with varying dephts) are .dxf and .svg. I sort of think of .dxf as being more dimensional and .svg as being more art, but those are not real lines. I’m sure you’re familiar with illustrator and inkscape. Those work fine for .svgs. I also do a lot of work in onshape, and make the 3D object, then add a sketch to one side, mark all the features and export the sketch as a .dxf. That’s more for making something like a bookshelf. For making signs, I think illustrator/inkscape would be ideal.
When you have one of those files, you need to run them through CAM (computer aided machining). The CAM will let you set things like the speed of cut, the depth per pass, and the tool diameter and then select which lines from your file you’d like to cut (and inside or outside those lines). The easiest way it Estlcam and although it’s simple, it’s not a toy. It works great for lots of jobs. You can use it for free in windows or in wine. If you like it, it’s $50 to get rid of the nag box.
The other popular alternative is fusion 360, which is more complicated, and currently free for hobbyists. It has CAD similar to OnShape and CAM similar to Estlcam, but it is more complicated, targetting a professional CAD operator.
There are great youtube videos about these tools, and they are probably the best way to get used to what they can do and how to use them.
Jeffeb3 nails it on the head.
If it makes a difference, Fusion 360 has a definite learning curve but it’s nice to have all of your tools in one place.
On a more mechanical note: I would have to suggest building one machine for routing/laser engraving and a completely different setup for plasma cutting.
To operate a plasma cutter for large jobs safely, it is definitely better to have a water table. This helps a lot with metal vapor and all sorts of other stuff you don’t really want to breath. Water and routing/laser engraving don’t really play well with each other either. Thankfully these machines are inexpensive enough to build that it’s fairly inexpensive to do two, you’re just doubling your prints.
Jeff and Zero,
Thank you for the replies. My mind is spinning reading through the forums and gathering table ideas and software needed. I believe I am going to start by converting one of my tables I currently have to learn the build on then build my “Dream table” after understanding the principles and operation a little better. I am also assembling a Prusa i3 at the same time and looking forward to sharing what the combination can help create.
Thank you again for the words of wisdom