CAM Resources

Contents

Common CAM Processing Workflow

Based on observation and reading… but not definitive!

NOTE:
Device specific simulation is not part of the typical workflow, but highly recommended. Most CAM tools simulations don’t use the post-processed (machine specific) NC instructions. It’s always good to check the post-processed files to make sure units are converted correctly, rotations of spindles are correct, etc.

Fusion360 CAM

This article has some interesting background information about Autodesk’s CAM kernel (core software for milling.)

The same kernel is used in HSMWorks, Inventor, and Fusion360.

This should mean post-processing scripts for one should work for the others. Post processing scripts convert from generic machine move instructions to specific ones for a given mill/lathe/3D printer/water jet/plasma torch/etc.

Autodesk has a searchable archive of post processors for Fusion 360 and AutodeskHSM.

Instructions for adding a post processor to Fusion360 are here.

Rough Guide

  1. Design object.
  2. Select CAM workspace.
  3. Add operation type, define stock material dimensions, work surface, and work co-ordinates. THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THE WORK COORDINATES AND HOW THE MACHINE WILL MOVE!
  4. Add operations of the given type. Select the correct tool, feeds and speeds, etc.
  5. Generate paths.
  6. Simulate.
  7. Post Process.
  8. Copy files to machine and run your job.

Fusion360 CAM for 3D Printing

Fusion360 CAM can (via cloud credits) create supports etc for printing in high-end metal printers.

The generated supports look very promising, eg for SLA printing. It may be using NetFab technology.

The simulator for 3D printing acts like a typical 3D slicer, showing each layer as it’s built.

When this was written, there didn’t appear to be a post-processor to generate Marlin/RepRap compatible G-Code. However, the object + supports can be exported to 3MF format (intro to 3MF.) Simplify3D, Cura, and probably other slicers, support 3MF.

Fusion360 CAM for Laser Cutting

Super Simple SVG Export

For quick exports use the Shaper Origin plugin.

Pros:

  • Super simple to use. In the design space, click on tools, then the Shaper plugin icon, and follow the prompts to select each of your (plane) faces in turn.
  • Exports clean, “sensible” (no double lines, or thousands of points, …), easy to edit SVG
  • only minor edits (remove fill, line colors) needed before can be sent to laser

Cons:

  • Autodesk sometimes breaks the plugin API. Can take a while for the plugin to get a fix.
  • No kerf allowance. Final parts will fit together as tight as your cutting tool allows, unless you feed this through another tool.

Simple- DXF Export

Use the DXF for Laser plugin.

Pros:

  • has kerf compensation

Cons:

  • plugin API breaks (see Shaper plugin above.)
  • Inkscape doesn’t always handle DXF well.

CAM Workspace

Has an operation type for plasma/laser cutter/profile only cutting tools.

Unlikely to break if the plugin API changes.

SVG exporting post processors are available for download. Search that page for ‘SVG’.

The kerf compensation is performed by Autodesk’s HSM tooling, which is very powerful.

Follow the Rough Guide for setting up CAM processing.

When selecting the profile/cut tool, create (copy) a new laser cutting head.

The cutter diameter is your kerf width, which will vary with the material, focus, power, speed, etc you’re going to use.

To measure the kerf, draw a 1cm square in eg Inkscape. (Make sure use geometric dimensions is enabled in the settings so sizes don’t include the line stroke width!)

Cut this with your intended settings.

Use calipers to measure the size of the cutout square (=inside length), and the size of the hole (=outside length.)

cutter\ diameter = \frac{outside\ length - inside\ length} {2}

The CAM tools are designed for spinning mill bits, and the ideas of conventional vs climb cutting leak through to some places where they don’t make sense - like laser/plasma/water jet profile cutting.

There are notes/help topics that talk about compensating to be inside/outside/on the desired profile, based on direction of cutting the outline (clockwise/anticlockwise.) Changing these settings didn’t seem to cause expected changes for creating profiles for laser cutting. Triple check the simulation to ensure cuts are on the expected side of the profile you want to cut! You will have to zoom in a lot!

Lightly Tested SVG Exporting Post Processors

Epilog Laser

  • color coded output
  • exported SVG seemed “messy”- overlapping lines, extra lines, extra points

Glow Forge

  • straight forward export to SVG file, or SVG embedded in HTML.
  • output was “clean” and easy to edit in InkScape.

Vectric VCarve Makerspace Edition

We maintain a license of Vectric VCarve: Makerspace Edition, installed on the 3D Printing/CAM workstation by the 3D printers.

VCarve is a very friendly, task oriented CAD/CAM tool for CNC routing. It’s very simple to set up 2D jobs, and has some interesting features such as generating texture, breaking up jobs that are too-large for your machine into pieces- including 3D models.

Makerspace members can even download a version that will let them design and test. The final generation of G-Code has to be done in the Makerspace using our copy.

It’s focus is simplicity, and getting jobs, including production tasks, done.

There are a lot of tutorials and free example projects. Support has been fast and friendly.

(And Vectric is now employee owned!)

Kiri:Moto

  • Kiri:Moto - web based
    • Kiri:Moto is a multi-modal slicing and visualization engine that produces
      • 3 axis CNC toolpaths
      • GCode for 3D printers
      • DXG/SVG cut paths for lasers