I have been cutting a lot of DXF's on our Thermwood with an updated version of control nesting. The process is pretty straightforward:
- Import file to cad
- Save as version 12 (DXF)
- apply layer names
- ensure all geometry is closed
- cut parts
Initially the learning curve is pretty steep, however now I have even learned to use the layer translator to speed up the process. Is this process similar to other CNC routers? Can most CNCs cut cab parts directly from an AutoCAD file using a DXF?
From contributor S:
It's not possible for you to be "cutting DXF's on a CNC." A DXF is a computer file composed of binary digits.
To try and clear up the secondary discussion in this thread, the DXF files only provide the geometry. You still need a post processor to translate that information into the G-code appropriate for your machine. Somewhere along the way it has be told how to interpret that information, be it by layer name, color, or some other method. Simply put, the DXF file itself is not enough to make the machine produce a part.
"Control can accept raw design files in addition to CNC programs - First generation controls are primarily playback devices, much like a player piano. They require that the programmer not only design the part but also perform a series of additional functions including CAM, nesting, and post processing in order to generate a precisely formatted program that the control can execute. Next generation controls such as Thermwood’s Gen2 SuperControl can, in addition to standard CNC programs, also accept raw design files directly from design software without the additional processing. It automatically performs any program preparation necessary to machine the part.
Control is directly compatible with virtually all design software - DXF files from any CAD or design software can be sent directly to a Gen2 SuperControl.
Combine files from multiple software sources in a nest - The control creates nests of parts internally and can combine parts from multiple sources in the same nest.
A single job file can contain hundreds of parts rather than requiring hundreds of separate CNC programs for a job - Including all the parts for a job in a single file can dramatically reduce file handling and improve productivity of the machine. The control nests the parts on the appropriate material, tells the operator how many sheets of material are needed for the job and tells him what material to load. In fact, it guides him through the entire process, step by step. This file also contains information for machining the back or flip side of certain parts. It prints a label for each part. Parts that require flip operations have a bar code on the label. When the operator scans the bar code, it identifies the part to the control which automatically retrieves the correct program. From the operator’s standpoint the whole process is simple, load one file and follow instructions. In a first generation control, the CNC programs are developed outside the control, so there is a program file for each sheet of material in the job and yet another program file for each flip operation. These files are normally processed into individual CNC programs. A single job may require a hundred files or more that must be sent individually to the machine. Some really limited controls may only allow one, or maybe a couple of programs to be loaded at a time. An operator then needs to sort through, identify, handle and load hundreds of files each day. This takes time and reduces productivity of a major investment, the CNC router. Also, this approach is more prone to error."
Any suggestions where to call? The Mastercam rep I talked to seemed uninterested. My interest in the Mastercam software comes from the fact that a neighboring machine shop uses it and the guy who runs it is willing to train me, which is a huge advantage. I came through the software through a third party.
Contributor A, I am relatively new to MasterCam and have only used MCam X. But you might try calling ShopWare (they are one of the top MasterCam Dealers). They might have a post available for your machine.
As far as what tools are being used, there are several options.
1. Like most programs, we have material groups set up on the router (that use specific tools). If cutting S/surface, we simply load up the DXF and choose S/surface. The router does the rest...
2. In the layer name, we can designate the diameter of tool we want to use. This, combined with preloaded material files, allows us a great degree of control with very little effort.
The bottom line is we receive AutoCAD files and can usually cut them directly off of the customers file - very little manipulation on our end means more cutting and less time programming (this equals more money).
As a closing note, like I suspected, Thermwood has really got their act together with this one... a simple process is still simple... no middle man required.