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    Lightbulb What type of software?

    So my small welding shop in a High School just got a plasma table. I was wondering what cam/cad software do you use? Or maybe you can point me to what I'm looking for. I want a raster to vector software and then and tool path generator that will do lead ins/outs and offsets. And all this for low cost Does any one have any suggestions.


    Thanks a ton!

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    Tell us who made the machine you have and that will prompt the answers you need. We just need more information to give you good answers.



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    A lot of people use SheetCAM for plasma.

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    I have a small Dynatorch cnc. Does sheetcam do both raster to vector, and generate offset paths with leads?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Metal-Mass View Post
    I have a small Dynatorch cnc. Does sheetcam do both raster to vector, and generate offset paths with leads?
    SheetCAM does not do raster to vector or any drawing based functions. You can do raster to vector in a multitude of drawing/illustration programs (CorelDraw has Corel Trace built in). In all cases the results from any of those is totally dependent on the complexity and type of artwork. On simple B & W or line drawings it's pretty good. On things that need to be geometrically correct (circles, Text, etc), it's marginal even if it's a line drawing, and a photo with blurred edges is a joke. After years of cutting with plasma and being mostly in the decorative cutting end, we found that learning your vector drawing tool and hand tracing over a bitmap is about twice as fast as auto-tracing and doing all of the cleanup. Fonts on the computer (Truetype & Adobe) are already vector and there are hundreds of faces that can be used to match virtually any logo you have to duplicate.

    For decorative cutting having the ability to import vector files, size and edit, bring in text, wrap it around an arc or circle, and weld/trim objects together to get nice clean artwork that cuts smooth is a real time saver and profit enhancer.

    There are several sources of nice clean vector clipart (in AI and EPS formats) that can save hours of work. www.VectorArt.com has thousands of files in dozens of major categories. Once you have the file you can use it as is or break it apart/combine/edit for more complex designs. The sign industry has all this figured out and does not waste a lot of time trying to scan and cut things.

    SheetCAM DOES have: Auto lead-ins and outs (4 kinds), Kerf Offsets, Separate Pierce Height and Cut Height, Pierce Delay, End of Cut Delay, Auto touch-off (IHS), variable touch-off intervals, and Ramp Leadins. It's also very cost effective at less than 170.00 USD and works for 2D and 2.5D routing and milling as well. A lot of the parameters are not usable on machines that do not have a full Z axis controlled by G-code.

    The new version (TNG) will have new features. One new add-on for TNG is the My Nesting program.

    TOM caudle
    www.CandCNC.com



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    I think you would be better off, working with Inkscape for your raster-to-vector only because your students can download a copy to work at home & school.

    Inkscape is free, & I have a plugin that will export to dxf, then import to any CAD that supports R12-DXF (Most CAD supports R12-DXF).

    That might free up more money for a better CAD program?

    Have a look at the link in my sig. to see over 500 dxf files, at least half I made with Inkscape.

    If you need any help with Inkscape, let me know, like I said you can export a dxf for free. I can also point you to a bunch of free Inkscape tutorials.

    Free DXF - vectorink.com


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    So is Inkscape an open source of Adobe Illustrator, cuz I have that and pretty familiar with it, but I could never get the export DXF thing to work right. For example if I typed something out and then went to edit the font to make it plasma friendly, and then exported it as DXF, only the lines i drew in to edit the font would show up and no words.

    Right now I have been making the students use a Solidworks to make a sketch and then export it through a drawing as a DXF ( talk about the run around ) and then the dynatorch software will convert DXF to G-code. I would like to have more students be able to access this with out having to figure out something like solidworks.

    So if I could have a program give me an offset path with leads then the DFX to G-code would work fine for the students.

    What kind of files formats does SheetCam import/export

    Thanks



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    I think that Tom meant to say that creating g-code from a straight raster to vector conversion will give you pretty poor results when plasma cutting. That's why he prefers hand tracing.

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Another option could be:

    1) Inkscape (free)

    2) CorelDraw (pay - I think they have a student version)

    3) DXFTool - plugin (pay - exports better dxf than default CorelDraw - dxf)

    4) CadCam (pay)

    CorelDraw & Inkscape will do about the same things, your students could use Inkscape at home for free, make their own drawings, then export as .SVG, bring the .svg to school convert to dxf (CorelDraw + DXFTool) then, convert to g-code with CadCam.

    That way you would only need to buy the pay software once (keep at school), & the students could still take their time to create art at home (homework ).

    Free DXF - vectorink.com


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    Moderator Switcher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metal-Mass View Post
    So is Inkscape an open source of Adobe Illustrator, cuz I have that and pretty familiar with it, but I could never get the export DXF thing to work right. For example if I typed something out and then went to edit the font to make it plasma friendly, and then exported it as DXF, only the lines i drew in to edit the font would show up and no words.
    Right now I have been making the students use a Solidworks to make a sketch and then export it through a drawing as a DXF ( talk about the run around ) and then the dynatorch software will convert DXF to G-code. I would like to have more students be able to access this with out having to figure out something like solidworks.

    So if I could have a program give me an offset path with leads then the DFX to G-code would work fine for the students.

    What kind of files formats does SheetCam import/export

    Thanks


    Sounds like the font needs to be converted to vectors.

    Then after you edit the font, you need to weld/join the new edits to the font/vectors.

    Then export to dxf.

    Free DXF - vectorink.com


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    I'd have to say Corel X4 is your best option.

    Later versions of CorelDraw have a vastly improved Bitmap to Vector tracing engine which massively reduces the need to manually adjust nodes. If you want to work with text then Corel font handling and reproduction is also second to none.

    Corel will also allow your students to design things on screen at full size- there is absolutely no need to mess around with scale factors. This ability alone is worth the price of Corel.

    As far as exporting DXF files from Corel goes there is nothing wrong with the actual Corel export filter. The problem lies with the DXF format itself and the way it interprets curved lines. It doesn't matter how clean and smooth your nodes are on screen... the DXF filter will always substitute curved lines with sections of straight lines. This is an old problem and one which has never been addressed by AutoCad.



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    As far as exporting DXF files from Corel goes there is nothing wrong with the actual Corel export filter. The problem lies with the DXF format itself and the way it interprets curved lines. It doesn't matter how clean and smooth your nodes are on screen... the DXF filter will always substitute curved lines with sections of straight lines. This is an old problem and one which has never been addressed by AutoCad.
    Actually there is a LOT wrong with the Corel DXF export filter!

    The problem is the EXPORT from the application to DXF. DXF can handle arcs and curves nicely. What several applications do is they don't go through the complex math to convert their internal Bezier curves into arc segments or curves for DXF. They simply break the curve into hundreds of short line segments (no arcs). CorelDraw (all versions up to X4) Adobe illustrator and Inkscape do that.

    DXFTools by James Leonard was written as a CorelDraw plug-in filter to allow export to DXF and convert the internal Corel curves into the best fit set of arcs. A circle of any size is 4 nodes (4 arc segments of 90 deg). Text does NOT have to be first converted to curves which allows you to keep your master drawings and change the text (as text) if you want. The tool gives smoothing to the curves and you can set tolerances to get tighter curve following or fewer nodes. The first release was good but his latest release is even better.

    It does not fix bad artwork. If it's bunged up to begin with you either have to fix it in Corel or draw it in Corel. A bad DXF export from another package and imported to Corel is already messed up (segmented). Try it for yourself. (www.CorelDrawTools.com) It's free for 30 days or 30 exports. It's 59 bucks. It does not work with Adobe Illustrator or any thing else.

    SheetCAM will import DXF (with arcs), HPGL (always segmented) and EMF (vector components). The new TNG version also imports SVG, but so far I have not been able to get the SVG file exported from Inkscape to import correctly into SheetCAM. Maybe that is fixed in the last few months....dunno.

    You can still get CorelDraw X3 full version pretty cheap on Ebay. I bought a copy about 30 days ago for 69.00.

    If you have experience with Illustrator the concepts in CorelDraw will be easy to master. There are not a lot of tools you have to learn to do artwork for plasma and simple sign making.

    One of the strengths of CorelDraw is you can import virtually any vector format (including the ones used most by commercial sign shops like EPS and AI) and most bitmap formats to trace (or auto trace). There are thousands upon thousands of clean vector art collections. CorelDraw comes with a whole book of vector clipart and hundreds of fonts. There are vector sources for most major logos. (http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/)
    Only start with a bitmap and trace it if there is no other way!


    TOM caudle
    www.CandCNC.com



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What type of software?
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