View Full Version : Engraving with Solidcam

The Aspirator
12-29-2009, 07:01 PM
I'm trying to engrave a simple practice test with solidcam 2008. It took me a long time to figure out that you require single line fonts, otherwise it will engrave double line (outlined) letters. I finally figured out that when you install solidcam it also installs a single line font called DPS Schrift which works great. Too bad they didn't give you more options.

Anyways, here's what it does:


I'm just using a #2 centerdrill, that flatbar is 1" tall. It doesn't seem to want to turn corners, just do straight lines and dashes. It does the straight sections just fine, like the 1, part of the "d", etc, but the rest are just dashes. Thoughts? I've gone over every setting that I could find and tried changing things drastically with no difference. Even changing the units section of the SolidCAM settings window. I've seen those videos on YouTube of the solidcam professor engraving and even after copying all of his settings I still get these results. Driving me nuts. It's gotta be a setting somewhere, right?


Brakeman Bob
12-30-2009, 07:26 PM
No, afraid not. This is a serious problem in SolidCAM and one that I address by making a sketch in the CAM part which is the centreline of the letter. I have been working on a SolidWorks macro to make a stickline alphabet but, well, work gets in the way and VBA isn't a strong point of mine. That stick font that SolidCAM supplies is a complete bag of ordure.

I use a Ø3mm x 90° engraving tool from ITC and in the past, when time was pressing, I just programmed the outline of the letters (the font was 5mm Arial) and it didn't look bad at all.

The Aspirator
12-30-2009, 08:23 PM
Well at least I'm glad to hear that it's not something I'm doing wrong! Thank you for the heads up. For just a few words or maybe for a logo that will get cut a lot, I can definitely see that it would be worth the effort to sketch the centerline of each letter. However my first real engraving project was supposed to be a few paragraphs on the back of a 4"x4" AL plate. Might have to skip this project for now.

I wonder if a different font would work? I found a few single line fonts floating around a few forums, some for Featurecam and a few other programs, but they seem to like connecting the long lines in each letter. For example an S would have a line between the two endpoints as well.

The Aspirator
01-09-2010, 01:23 AM
I figured it out, well it's a massive hack workaround, but it certainly does the trick. I hope this benefits someone in the future.

Basically I made a dummy 4"x4" block part, started a new sketch and wrote down all my text and formatted it so it looked good. Single line fonts work best for this, and the DPS Schrift worked great. After writing my font, hide the block, open the text sketch into a drawing file, then export it as a DXF. Then you go back into the dummy block and import the DXF, this converts all the text lines into sketch lines! Use "move sketch" to position it.

After this everything works great in SolidCam, I found Countour 3D to work best, and it took freakin forever (hours) to calculate my 478 characters. Ohh and I used the "get all" button to capture all the sketch lines instead of picking them one by one. The funny thing about this is that it engraves them in random order, like it'll do half of one word then move across the workpiece and start another word, or half letters then finish them later. In the end it was definitely worth it, looks so pro! Time to pick up a proper engraving tool though, cause my #2 centerdrill leaves a wide and slightly rough cut.

Brakeman Bob
01-09-2010, 06:11 AM
I used to do something like that by writing the text in AutoCAD using ROMANS and exporting the text layer to a DXF whhich was then bragged into SolidWorks.

When you have a lot of lines in a sketch to turninto geometry use the "CAD Select" (or some such - I'm at home right now and don't have SolidCAM loaded on my PC) and just pick the sketch from the feature tree that appears in the model window. That will grab every entity in the sketch.

The Aspirator
01-09-2010, 09:23 AM
Dude! So that's what the CAD select button does, thanks! I've clicked it before but when trying to click on a sketch or entity in the display it doesn't do anything. Now I know.

Brakeman Bob
01-10-2010, 09:01 AM
It does a lot more than that. Click on the "CAD Select" button then pick a face on the model - it's edges will highlight and that can be your geometry. Opick an edge, right click see those options - my most used are select tangency and select loop (but I find that sometimes it picks more entities than I bargained for).

Have fun.


01-13-2010, 06:08 AM
I agree. You need to play with all the solidcam functions just to see what's going on!

If I have time (which isn't often) I sometimes make a dummy model with a pocket, or profile or 3D surface (whatever), and then just play with strategies and toolpath options. It's greeeeeeaaaat!

Then when you have tricky jobs you know what to do.

When I first started using solidcam I tended to design my parts within my capabilities, but now I'm much more daring and then suffer the consequences of trying to machine it. Fun fun fun :)

Just these last couple of days I've been designing a carbon engine guard in SW. It's all surfaces etc, and a little beyond me really, but I've learned so much by trying to figure it all out. Then using the very useful mold design in SW I've designed the mold and the first half is being cut now. Just a couple of pencil passes and it'll be done (5 hour job so my operator is happy). And it looks well sexy!

To some people it's a job, but to me it's a challenge.



Brakeman Bob
01-14-2010, 02:50 AM
To some people it's a job, but to me it's a challenge.

Amen to that.


Adam Lilja
03-16-2012, 06:45 PM
It's easier to CUT-EXTRUDE the text in your CAD. After, go into solidcam and select a profile operation. To define your drive geometry click define & select multi-chain. Select 'faces' in the next window and pick the face that has all the text on it, then at the top click unselect and click anything you don't want to engraving. This will do single line engraving.



The Aspirator
03-17-2012, 01:59 AM
Thanks for the tip! I just tried it and can see how it works great for double line fonts, but how do you Extrude Cut a single line font? There's no face, just a line. Also all the single line fonts have connecting lines "closing" the chain of each letter, which is annoying.

This thread is 2 years old, can't believe it's been so long. Since then I've done a ton of engraving. Now I usually write it with single line fonts, right click and choose "dissolve text", that breaks it up into thousands of little lines. Exit Sketch, start New Sketch. Convert Entities and choose the text I just dissolved, this will convert it to much simpler lines and is way easier on the CAM program, here I also delete all the little connecting lines. Then in Solidcam I choose profile, under Define I click Add MultiChain, CAD Selection, choose the text, done. However sometimes it will forget some segments of letters, like the lower left line of the letter R will sometimes be left out, very annoying but manageable if you know to watch for it.