Workflow

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This is a compleat overview of running a job from beginning to end, w/ links to appropriate pages.


Design the part

Cocktail napkin sketches aside, this requires that one draw or code the part(s) up on a computer, either in a CAD program, or directly in a CAM program which has drawing facilities, or directly in G-Code. See Designing for Fabrication for further considerations.

List of end-to-end tutorials

CAD

There are many programs for this, and as noted on the CAD page, one can use any tool capable of creating vector descriptions, or hand-code G-Code oneself.

List of CAD Tutorials

CAM

This is more complex than the words, “Computer Aided Manufacturing” would suggest. The following aspects of a job must all be reconciled:

  • Source file format (from the step above)
  • Material selection
  • End mill selection
  • Offsets based on Endmill diameter and machine runout
  • Feeds and speed
  • Order of operations, direction of cut(s), point of origin and Z-value for each cut

Previewing (and optimizing) the Job

See the page Previewing G-Code for a list of programs for this. In some instances, it may be necessary to tweak the G-code commands --- some of the programs afford this capability. For batch changes, see grecode (listed on the Programmatic G-Code Generators page).

Run the Job

The basics of course are covered in Hello World and First Job. Please follow (and use) the Operating Checklist.

One will need to:

  • check the machine
  • mount the selected end mill
  • place the material at an appropriate place on the work area in an appropriate orientation and secure it w/ an appropriate workholding technique
  • zero the machine and move it to an appropriate starting position relative to the material[1]. Techniques for this:
    • placing a piece of paper at zero and jogging the machine down until it catches the paper
    • drill bit --- use a drill bit or other cylinder of known diameter, jog the machine down and move it horizontally until it nudges the drill bit
    • placing a conductor of known thickness at zero and clipping a wire for a light or other electronic device to the endmill (or other electronic device)[2]
    • using a corner block[3] or center finder or other device[4]

Other Considerations