I am interested in making some new programs for the Weeke CNC machine at our factory. I am having a little trouble using WoodWOP 4.5 when designing worktops, etc with curves or arcs. For instance, looking at an example on our machine, making an oval top is a complicated mess of SINE and COSINE rules to plot out the points. Surely you don't need a degree in mathematics to design these shapes?
I notice some people are using AutoCAD 2000 or similar to design shapes. Would this make my life easier? If so, I may get the company to purchase AutoCAD.
From contributor B:
I never could understand why some CNC manufacturers send out machines without guidance on using drawing programs such as AutoCAD and G-code CAM software to create code. Nothing could be more accurate and simpler. It just makes no sense to me to write code when CAM software will take your CAD drawing and generate the code.
Any CAD program that will output a .dxf file will work, as that is what the CAM packages I know of import. I use Enroute 3 Pro for my CAM work, but there are many other programs out there in that and lower price ranges.
If there is someone that can explain to me an advantage of writing code versus using CAD and CAM software, I would love to learn the reasons.
We use Autocad 2004 to draw everything up. This makes life much easier. You will have to get CAD, and you will also have to contact Stiles Machinery to get a copy of the BPP software from them. It's a go between software. You assign layers in CAD, and then run the dxf file through the converter. It takes some getting used to, but makes life much easier when dealing with WoodWOP.
So basically, my best option (for creating 2D shapes at the minimum) is to get some kind of CAD package that will output dxf files and when imported, the drawings will automatically have the counters' starts/ends/rads/etc entered for me?
Yes, the support for the machine is rather limited. I think the plan was only initially to do basic squares/oblongs/rectangles, etc, which is a terrible waste of such a machine! I'm assuming, working in 3D in a CAD package, I could create embossing and chamfers with nice angles on a lot easier.
I am basically a beginner, having only had experience programming simple items on a CNC lathe for metal work and having to manually program it line by line years ago. Also, I've read that v5.0 of WoodWOP is not available. Is this a free upgrade or will Homag want lots of money from us to upgrade? What will I gain?
I could name several other instances where it is easier to change a couple of parameters (dado, construction holes, rabbets, toe kicks...) than to create CNC code with CAM and transfer it to the machine.
Your statement is applicable to your business and your situation. I know you are making curved moldings and it makes sense to draw in CAD, load drawing in CAM and output CNC to the machine. I did the same thing with carvings, but not with things that I mentioned above.
I will assume you have not had any formal WoodWop training. Unless you have had formal training or direct training from an experienced operator/programmer on the job, you will probably have many more question like this. I highly recommend Stiles WoodWop programming class. It's very thorough.
Anyway, you can design shapes and curves very easily. Using a coordinate system, any number of shapes can be made. You don't need any SINs, COSINs or Tangents for this. You simply use a starting point and tell the next line segment exactly to what coordinate, or to what direction and how far to move. For curves, you tell it a starting point, ending point and a radius. I prefer to use variables and formulas as much as possible, as this makes a program parametric. Although you can use some very complex formulas and programming techniques, most programs are very simple.
You can use a variety of CAD software to import designs to WoodWop using DXF format. For complex designs and 3D programming, this is very useful. But, for desktop curves and arcs you need not go any further than WoodWOP. With a little guidance from an experienced co-worker, you should be able to make any relatively simple shapes and curves within a few minutes. WoodWOP 4.5 gives you global variables that are extremely useful.
Of course, CAD programs can save you much time. I use AutoCad 2004 and the BPP for my own pleasures but have not needed it for any machining for our customers' jobs. Companies that don't already have AutoCad shouldn't have to buy it just to make complex shapes. That is why WoodWOP is so popular. Not all companies can even afford it. I have yet in many years to find a product that 100% requires a CAD program to design. Keep in mind, every company markets, designs, and manufactures their products differently. You might be able to create a design in AutoCAD just as quick as someone can create the program in WW. It depends on the operator/programmer. Unless you produce high-end custom cabinetry, AutoCAD is not a necessity, but very helpful.
And yes, even an ellipse can be created in just a couple of minutes. I have already had to do the brain work, so with the correct programming technique I have developed all full-parametric programs. I would never think of even opening a new program. Copy a similar program if it saves you 15 minutes or even 15 seconds. You can do it too!
Hope I don't insult anyone with such a blunt response, but I just can't see any more accurate or faster way to make one of a kind variable shape parts.