After quite some time I have gotten back to using my CNC machine once again in the Tinker's Workshop today. I have always been fascinated with trying to make new things on my CNC and yesterday I found the perfect test project that I have been wanting to try. I was going through some old internet links that I had saved when I came across this CNC machining site.
This site has a good sized library of CNC 3D engravings that will come in handy in a lot of different projects. I was able to download a free CNC software from the site that will take 3D vector artwork files and convert them to G-Code for my CNC machine. Since the software was free and the VectorArt3D site also has some free samples to try it out I thought what could I loose but some time and a little styrofoam. As usual I cut all my test parts in foam as this is a simple medium to use and is very inexpensive for this portion of any project.
The free software that I downloaded is called VectorArt 3D Machinist. It is a very simple program to use to convert the VectorArt files to G-Code. The image above shows you what the software looks like once you get it loaded into your computer. I had to download the software and then restart my computer. Once I did the restart I was able to install the software from the download and get it running. The picture of the engraving you see is one of the free sample files available from the VectorArt 3D web site. I liked the look so that was the plan of action for today's CNC project.
This is how the foam test part looked just after an hour of milling using a 1/4" flat bottom CNC bit. This was after three passes and is called the rough cut. The project is taking shape at this point and so I was moving forward once again and pressed on to do the finishing pass on the part.
Here you can really see a difference in how the part looks. You can still make out faint lines on the part and it is not perfectly smooth but is a much more finished looking part at this point. I was using a 1/4" bit called a ball nose bit which cleaned things up quite a bit. A ball nose bit when spinning is rounded over at the tip. The bit also was making one pass to clean up the part but each pass was only 1/32" wide. The rough pass was 1/8" wide and took three passes to complete in one hour. The finishing pass took the same amount of time but with only one pass. If this was the real wooden part I could do some light sanding on the part and call it good. I am very pleased with my first attempt at this type of CNC made part.
I could change the finishing bit to a smaller diameter bull nose bit and the finished part would be smoother still. Just a matter of how detailed you want the part to end up like. This part is ten inches in diameter so the larger bits look pretty good. But I suspect that if the part were a third this size it would need the smaller diameter bits to get the detail that you see here. Anyway I am happy with my first effort. Check out the VectorArt3D website for the free software and samples and a look at their library. I know I'll be looking at it again soon.