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A member registered 98 days ago

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I treat the Sharpie's similar to a drag knife . Disable the spindle, set Z to top of material, define depth of cut for the pen at .05", and set profile or pocket toolpaths to .05". There's a 2.5D function in VCarve called fluting that will perform a ramped cut over the length of a profile, and it has options  for:  

  • start depth and final depth of cut
  • tool type
  • to make the flute have a linear ramp, to ramp at start,  to ramp at start and end (think bowl/concave shaped), to ramp for a fixed length
  • to define the ramp as a linear motion or as a smooth motion (similar to cutting a pocket with a radius end mill VS flat end mill)

Because I was focused on just the flat drawing at the time, I hadn't thought about applying this to the Z axis (or even an A or B axis for rotary jobs), but it makes sense - merging the two scenarios that I originally wrote about as it boils down to modifying the feed rate (or spindle rate) based on possible parameters:

  • distance to/from Z coordinate
  • distance to/from X-Y coordinates
  • distance to/from A-B coordinate (tricky if you allow your rotary to spin more than 360 degrees)
  • spindle speed target = ST; spindle speed actual = SA; adjust feed rate by F%, adjust spindle rate by R%

As for implementing the gradient function or better yet, the radial modifier, I think that a simple linear percentage as you move between zones would give the best performance. I imagine that having more than one modifying layer could be tricky, do you default to the lowest value, the highest value, or a value between the two?

I know you can't or shouldn't make promises - this is only a suggestion based on an idea I had from a recent project.  I can probably achieve a similar effect from having multiple overlapping toolpaths at different feed rates... I'll end up making a tool holder/mount that holds a modified fountain brush with an air line that keeps the reservoir  pressurized.  The trick will be to either hand edit the G-code to pulse a solenoid for semi-constant air pressure, or to find a way to have a post processor insert an M-code based on the distance traveled when the tool/brush is in use. Or just sit and watch it and make sure the ink doesn't run out or spit all over the project. It would probably be easier to just to paint the damn thing by hand... if I could paint.

I don't take any part of your reply to be insulting, no worries there. I'll start off with something to think about - not every CNC machine cuts.

So, for scenario B with the zone modified feed rate, the tool in this case being a pen (or a laser with fixed output level, or an air brush with a fixed nozzle size and flow rate) would leave less ink (or the laser would burn not so deep/dark, air brush would leave less paint, etc). This absolutely could be accomplished with multiple overlapping tool paths creating the different levels of the gradient, but that also increases the run time of all the tool paths and goes over the same ground multiple times. But if a zone feed rate (zone gradient effect?) were implemented similar to your spiral operation (with the center being user defined, along with # of rings, eccentric VS concentric) the toolpath would go faster the farther from center the tool got. This could have an interesting effect on a crosshatching texture, too.  See the attached picture of a test piece I did. It's an attempt at Bender on canvas using Sharpies. Sharpies and canvas don't mix well, even if the pen holder is spring loaded - the canvas chews up the tip rather quickly. The gradient effect would work quite well on the stripes, but could also be useful to force focus in a particular spot. I realize after writing all of this that it's a request for a niche function few people might use.

As for dynamically controlling spindle speed - that sounds like a good complimentary feature for trochoidal milling.

The scenario A function that I described is essentially a finishing cut pass. In a discussion about another piece of software used for cabinets, objects that were below a certain size had the option of having the last pass slow to a specific feed rate in an attempt to not damage or eject the piece.  I imagine the use of either spiral upcut or downcut bits combined with not babysitting the machine because it's not cost effective in a production shop, having the machine slowdown on the last pass cuts down on tear out or projectile ejection. For the interior of pockets, spiraling the tool all the way to desired depth inside the pocket profile at a slow steady descent  usually works as long as the piece in the center doesn't cause tear out when milled away. While cutting a piece of aluminum for a Jeep switch face plate, one of the slugs from a switch hole got caught on the bit just before it was completely cut free and it ended up pulling the whole piece up and into the bit (of course it was the part that was farthest from any of the 6 bolts holding the stock down). Had I either manually slowed the feed rate down, or the toolpath generator auto-magically applied the size less than X @ last pass rule on the switch holes, the slug probably would have been cut free without damaging the main piece.

How feasible would it be to add options to toolpath control... specifically in relation to feed rate. 

Here's scenario A: you're on the last pass of toolpath (profiling, pocketing, any operation really) and you'd like to automatically have the feed rate change to certain percentage of the initial rate. This would be either a last pass option, or better, an option based on thickness of the stock (percentage or actual dimension).  

Scenario B: feed rate is modified based on zones. Picture an archery target with it's concentric circles, and each annulus would potentially modify the feed rate. 

I'll keep at them so you focus your efforts on more important things.

I emailed them last night, but all I got was a non answer...

"At this time we do not have any information regarding the .tool format.
It is just used to store tool information when exported from our software."

I'm going to try again today with a more specific question.

I can send you a sample tool database, and ping Vectric if you'd like.

What about having the ability to import a Vectric tool database? I've got a bunch of tools already defined in there with optimized feeds and speeds for my machine, as does anyone else that uses VCarve, Aspire, Cut3D, etc.  Amana Tool is steadily adding Vectric compatible bit information to their product pages (like this: