Useful CNC Cutting Information
Here are a few links to some very interesting CNC Cutting Information
Techniques for Cutting Good Quality Holes.
Water or Down Draft Table?
Removing Rust, Mill Scale and Dross from Plasma Cut Parts.
Excel Spreadsheet for Quoting Plasma Cutting
Remove Dross and Mill Scale from Plasma Cut Parts
HVAC Fitting needs! Layout Master Here
Plasma Cutting Tip Refurbishing
Steel Plate Weight Chart
Water Table Use, Plasma Quench Recipe
Holding Small Pieces of Metal on Your Table
CNC Configuration Questions
CNC Lead Ins
Metal Coloring and Texturing Info.
Creating a cut ready DXF file from a photograph Part 2
Once you have learned these basics your are ready to begin creating a cut ready DXF file for your CNC cutting system.
The first step to creating a cut ready DXF file for your CNC cutting system is to open or import the image that you saved from the first step into your CAD or CAM based program.
The second step is to select the image and scale it to the size you want to cut it at.
The third step will be to change the opacity or transparancy of your image. You will want to lighten the color of the main image so that you can see the tracing lines you will be creating later in this process. See the following image.
The fourth step is to lock the image into place so that it can not be selected or moved around accidently.
The Fifth step begins by selecting an appropriate pen or pencil tool to begin tracing with. You will want to change the size of the line thickness/weight to .0625″ (represents the actual cut width of a Plasma cutting system set at 40 amps.
The sixth step will require you to trace the complete outermost silhouette of the image you want to cut out using the pen or pencil too. Then you can use a black fill color to represent the main silhouette and change the opacity so that you can still see the main image located below the silhouette that you just created. See the following images.
This is the artwork that I selected.
The main silhouette of the artwork has been traced in the above image
The main silhouette of the artwork has been traced in the above image and the fill color transparency has been lightened so that you can see the original artwork below.
The seventh step is to trace around the features that are within the main silhouette image that you want to have fall out during the cutting process. An example of this would be having the metal between the seat and the roll bar fall out. Also the metal between the hydraulic arms of the front loader on the tractor. Then you can use a white fill color to represents the pieces of the design work that you want to fall out during the cutting process. See the following image.
This is what the image will look like when you use a white fill color to represent the pieces of the design work that you want to fall out during the cutting process.
You can now focus on using a single line to highlight certain features that are found within the main silhouette of the image you are needing. I usually use a weighted line weight of .0625″ to represent my single line cut paths. See the following image.
The above image represents the single line cut paths as well as the cut paths that will result in pieces of the design work that will fall out (represented by the white fill color).
The final step is to remove all the fill color from the design work, select the cut paths and export/save the design work as a .dxf file.
The above image represents what your design work should look like before you try to export it as a .dxf file.
Once you have successfully exported your .DXF file you will want to import the resulting DXF file into a CAM based program to detect for broken lines or intersections.
Video Tutorials convert image into cut ready DXF file utilizing Adobe Illustrator
Watch these videos to learn how to convert a basic image into a cut ready DXF file utilizing Adobe Illustrator.
Creating a New Document in Adobe Illustrator
Placing Images into a New Adobe Illustrator document
Changing Image opacity and locking placed image
Tracing main silhouette of your image
Tracing interior closed path cut outs
Defining interior single line cut paths
Exporting your DXF file
Create a cut ready DXF file from a photograph Part 1
Digitize your photograph
In this blog I would like to discuss my method for creating cut ready DXF files for CNC cutting systems using existing design work, artwork and even photographs. Chances are that you are part of the majority of business owners and hobbyists that have purchased introductory level or even advanced CNC cutting systems to find out later that it can be very time consuming and difficult to create custom design work suitable for cutting on your CNC cutting system. I would like to start this blog by encouraging each and everyone of you. I can assure you that there are software programs and designing methods that are available and affordable that can drastically reduce the amount of time you will spend creating design work that is cut ready for your CNC cutting system.
Before we begin creating a cut ready DXF file for your CNC cutting system we need to locate good quality design work, artwork or photographs to design from. It is very important to take time to locate high resolution images of what you want to cut with your CNC cutting system. There are lots of resources for locating high resolution images and you can get quick results by utilizing online search engines. The Google and Yahoo search engines provide image searches that will aid you in locating images of what you are wanting to cut with your CNC cutting system. These search engines will give you the ability to define your image search based on image size or as well as other image attributes.
Once you locate a high resolution image you will need to save it to either your computer or a usb flash drive so that you can find it later. There are a wide variety of file formats that will work for your design project. The best image file formats to work with are going to be .jpg, .bmp, .svg, .pdf and .png. When getting ready to create a cut ready DXF file for your CNC cutting system you will want to make sure you have a suitable CAD or CAM based program that will enable you to convert your image into a cut ready DXF file for your CNC cutting system. The very best programs for this job are traditional graphic design programs that have the capabilities of exporting DXF files and importing DXF files. The two best programs for creating a cut ready DXF file for your CNC cutting system are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. I would also like to make mention of Inkscape because it has been used successfully for the creation of cut ready DXF files for CNC cutting systems as well. From my experience Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw are the best software programs for this job. Once you have acquired either of these programs(30-60 day free demo’s are available) it will be very important to take the time necessary to understand the basic operation of the software and the tools within these programs. There are numerous resources online for users of both the Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator software programs. You will want to learn the following about the program you decide to go with.
How to open or import an image into a new document
The above image shows how to open an image into Adobe Illustrator CS6
How to select and deselect opened or imported images.
The above image shows the direct select arrow in Adobe Illustrator CS6
The above image shows what the photograph looks like when it is selected using the direct select arrow tool from the Adobe Illustrator CS6 software (blue bounding box around selected item)
How to scale or resize opened or imported images to specific sizes
How to add appropriate sizing or line weight to the lines you draw
The above image shows how to edit the line weight in Adobe Illustrator CS6
How to fill closed path objects with color
The above image shows how we can edit the fill color of objects in Adobe Illustrator CS6
How to change opacity or transparancy of the opened or imported images.
The above image shows how to adjust the opacity/transparancy in Adobe Illustrator CS6
How to lock selected images into place.
The above image shows how to lock a selected item into place using Adobe Illustrator CS6
How to trace using a pen tool or pencil tool
The above image shows how to select the pen tool for tracing using Adobe Illustrator CS6
How to export DXF files from your document
The above image is the first step in exporting a DXF file using Adobe Illustrator CS6
The above image is the second step in exporting a DXF file using Adobe Illustrator CS6
The above image is the third and final step in exporting a DXF file using Adobe Illustrator CS6
Metal Artwork Patina’s For a Great Finish!
Hello everyone, It seem like i get alot of questions regarding the finishes on products that i have displayed in my gallery and throughout my website. Most of the time the questions are directed around products that have been cut and finished by Bill Worden http://steelfxpatinas.com/. I have seen alot of unique finishes from my time spent doing research online. I see a lot of flame coloring, patina finishes, powder coating as well as rattle can spray paint. Each of these finishes are unique and no doubt have their own market appeal. I feel Bill’s finishing process and techniques really do help to create a beautiful and unique one of a kind product. Anyone that owns a CNC cutting system should be happy to know that Bill has decided to share his finishing process with the industry. Bill has decided to create an e-book download that details the step by step process a person would need to follow to achieve the finished results that he has painstakingly learned through his numerous trial and errors. Pre mixed solutions necessary to create these exotic finishes will also be available for sale. I will keep you all posted on how soon this e-book download will be available for sale. You can see some good examples of the finishes Bill has mastered on his website http://steelfxpatinas.com/photo-gallery/ I am excited this opportunity is going to become available. The information in this e-book download will be very helpful and critical in producing some very amazing finishes for your cut metal art. JH
What is a DXF File
DXF or Data Exchange Format/Data Interchange Format was developed by Autodesk and originally used for CAD (Computer Aided Design). The DXF format was developed as a universal format so that AutoCAD documents could be opened more easily with other programs. A DXF file is very similar to the original DWG file format but is more compatible with other programs since it is ASCII(text)based. DXF was introduced in 1982 as part of AutoCAD 1.0. Versions of AutoCAD from release 10 (October 1988) and up support both ASCII and Binary forms of DXF. Earlier versions of AutoCAD could only support ASCII. DXF is probably one of the most widely supported vector formats in the world today. DXF Files are relatively easy to parse since they are tagged and text based and therefore human readable. Exporting your splined DXF files from AutoCAD in a R14 or 2000 DXF format will help to produce polyline DXF files that will work as suitable cut paths in most CNC software programs.
Getting Started Guide
After purchasing a CNC cutting system most new owners tend to feel a bit overwhelmed with learning how to assemble and even operate their CNC cutting system. This is a perfectly normal experience that has been shared throughout the industry by many. Through hours and hours of practice and patience as well as some good note taking many CNC cutting system operators will build confidence in their ability to cut a design or product correctly. Once a new owner is confident in cutting they will start to become interested in learning how to design cut files for their CNC cutting system. The problem is that the design software that is included with most CNC cutting systems is relatively cumbersome, time consuming and often times very frustrating to use. This is exactly why I create and sell pre-designed DXF files. I feel that most new CNC cutting system owners would really like to create wonderful designs and products for their own customers. These same owners soon realize that the design work takes up to much time and most customers are not willing to pay for the added cost of design time. These owners will sometimes decide to not charge for design work or charge very little just so that they can make a sale.
I feel that your time is worth money and that it would be very hard to stay in business if you are working for free. If you are a new CNC cutting system owner and have found yourself in this position then you have a couple of good choices you can make that will help your business be more successful. Either you can purchase a design program that will enable you to create the design work faster and easier or you can purchase pre-designed DXF files that can be easily customized to meet the needs of your customers. The first choice is a great choice if you are able to devote time to learning another computer program. If you are like most new owners, spending more time on learning another program might not be a very good option. If you are unable to devote time to learn a new design software program then my DXF files can help you be successful with your CNC cutting system.
My existing customers enjoy how easily my DXF files load into their CNC software programs and are amazed at how well the design work actually cuts out. Once the design work you select is purchased through my website you will receive the DXF file as well as a JPG or PDF file that can be used as a visual reference for your customers within minutes through your email address. Simply download these files to your computer or memory card and load them into your CNC software program. You can literally be cutting within minutes. Your prior experience with setting up and cutting with your CNC cutting system will be very important when cutting these DXF files correctly. I provide full customer support regarding any questions, concerns or problems you encounter with my DXF files. Free sample DXF files are available for you to try out before you make your first purchase. Thanks very much for visiting my website and good luck with all your business endeavors!
Sincerely, Jason Henry
Cascade Metal Designs LLC