I know there are some of you who use your tables for both. We have hopefully gotten the better part of figuring out plasma cutting down.
Now, we would like to do some routing. My question is basically on software. We have BobCad/Art, sheet cam, CorelDraw, and mach3. Now that I am figuring some of this out, I don't think we ever needed the BobCad/Art. But oh well. I haven't used the dxf file fixer software yet to go along with Corel but am working on it. What I have been doing is drawing in Corel, saving as bitmap. Import into BobArt, convert to vector, send to BobCad, do some final edits there, send to sheet cam, process and then into Mach 3. It seems like an idiotic process to have to go through, but I'm sure its just me learning to do things the hard way.
As I understand it, with the .dxf file exporter, I can export .dxf files from Corel straight into sheet cam?
At any rate, if I want to do some cutting into wood, I can accomplish that by using Corel and sheetcam correct? Sheet cam will generate my toolpath? I have been playing around with it and I think it will, but I want to make sure I am not skipping any steps. I tried a practice piece friday and everything went great until the machine drove the tool tip into the wood. I had manually zeroed Z on top of the piece, but obviously I missed something somewhere.
So, before I really screw things up, I want to cover my bases. Do I need Vcarve?
Oh, one more dumb question before I go....do I have to manually turn the router on, do I do it on the mach 3 screen, or what?
Draw in Vector, export in vector, cut in vector. In Corel Draw you have the option to export in DXF or HPGL (plt) files. Either one works with SheetCAM. Sit down and spend some time and learn SheetCAM. It's not hard. SheetCAM spits out nice clean g-code for MACH and there is even post processors for both the plasma and routing.
The DXF export from CorelDraw is hideous with lots of segment lines but if you export in ACAD ver 10 format SheetCAM will bring it in and make toolpaths. With MACH setup right you can get clean cuts. The DXFtool software makes the DXF exports from Corel into arcs and curves.
Even HPGL exports work pretty good and it was all I used for 2 years until James developed DXFTool.
You should have been using the Corel-Sheetcam-MACH combo for everything. If you want to more decorative sign type work VCarve is the answer but don't spend more money until you learn how to use the tools you already have. Forget about 3D stuff until you have mastered 2 D and 2.5D cutting.
Bitmaps are collections of dots and CNC machines don't cut dots (except to do photo peck engraving). Drawing in vectors and exporting a bitmap is like driving your car from work to home so you can ride a bicycle back to pick up a truck to drive home again when the intent is just to get home (:-).
There is a Router Profile that comes with your machine and unstead of firing the torch using M03 codes (out of the CAM program) it will fire the big ole 30 A relay on the Table I/O card inside the control cabinet. Hook one leg of the AC to that relay pins and to a router and you have total AC control.