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Author Topic: What CAD system to use with MACH3 & LazyCam  (Read 6930 times)
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davecutts
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« on: September 22, 2008, 01:16:54 PM »

Hi All, I'm new to all this but have experience with PCB CAD. I am a model engineer and am currently converting a Mill to CNC. I am impressed with the Mach3 software and would like to use it, but I am having trouble getting my brain round interfacing with the various pieces of software. I would like to use the Alibre 3D cad design software but cannot understand how to output the 3D information into the Artsoft software. I can see how to make a flat item and just rout round the outside like a spanner, but how is the z-axis programmed to coincide with the x&y movements?

I guess I am missing something. I have no problems interfacing the computer with the machine. Is there any other CAD design system (Preferably cheap!!) that anyone can recommend?

Thanks,

Dave
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Kristin D
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2008, 01:43:25 PM »

Dave,

If I understand your question, the answer is the Z axis component is set in the tool your using, you need to set up your tool for instance a milling cutter to have a start cut depth and final cut depth, additionaly you can specify per pass depth and inside or outside offsets.

Kristin
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davecutts
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2008, 02:59:41 PM »

Hi Kristin,

Thanks for the reply, I suppose that the main question is: what CAD software do other people use that can output to Mach3? I Understand about the Z axis control but not how the cad software outputs to Mach3 or LazyCam.

Cheers

Dave
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Kristin D
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2008, 03:25:07 PM »

Depending on what CAM software your using, generaly it seems most accept DXF format as input from the CAD software. Try a simple DXF in LC or there may be some sample files already included. I am using SheetCam now. I use Solid Edge 2D to create my parts save as DXF and then import them into whatever CAM software to create the G-code.

Kristin
« Last Edit: September 22, 2008, 03:27:53 PM by Kristin D » Logged
Hood
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2008, 04:12:58 PM »

Dave,
 there are three things at play here, first is CAD, thats where you do your drawings. Then there is CAM, that takes your drawings and converts them into G-Code. Lastly there is Mach, it is the controller, it takes the G-Code and makes your axis move correctly.
 A lot of simple tasks can be done in Mach with the wizards, you enter a few dimensions and they produce the code for you.
 LazyCAM that comes with Mach is a very basic dxf importer which can turn a DXF into G-Code. Some people like it others hate it.
Hood
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ger21
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2008, 05:54:37 PM »

Two ways to do it. Using Alibre and LazyCAM, you'd save 2D drawings from Alibre as .dxf files, and bring them into LazyCAM. In LazyCAM, you assign cut depths to the lines and arcs and create the g-code, which is then brought into mach3.

Or, you can get a 3D CAM program and export your 3D models from Alibre into the CAM program, which will then create 3D code for mach3. It depends on what your making, but for most mechanical type parts, the 2D method produces much more efficient code that will get your parts done in much less time.
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RICH
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2008, 08:20:27 PM »

DAVE,
"Preferably cheap" can be subjective. Lets put it into relative terms.

Consider what you paid for the machine, tooling, some attachments,CNC controller ( drives/ power supply, cables),
PC. Lets say you that was $2000........ hmm.......lets be honest now  Lips Sealed Lips Sealed

Now comes the software end: Mach $150 +CAD+some type of CAM maybe= how much more do you want to spend.

The software is just as impotant asall the rest, so lets say it's worth 25% of the total package = $500
I will definitely recommend MACH, so that leaves $350.

So check out all the CAD or CAM that's available on the market and see what you can get for that money.
There must be a 100 CAD programas out there from free to big dollars. Start trying some free ones just to get a flavor of CAD.
I use AutoCadd and MicroStation, realisticaly, I probabaly only have to use 5% of these to get done what needs to be done to DXF out a file.
So high end dosn't mean money well spent.
Once you have a flavor of CAD, and have played with the wizards then progress into CAM. Not all software is equal by any means.
You can spend a life time evaluating software. CAM or the combinatioin CAD/CAM is another story, depends on what you want to do.
You won't get a loaded full sized car for a strippped sub-compact price. You can either hate or love or learn to hate some of them.

So work your way into the CAD or CAM. Honestly, I don't think $350 will not cut it when it's all
done and over with. And trust me Grin  I'll never tell the boss Lips Sealed.
RICH

.................................................HE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS..............................................................

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blowlamp
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2008, 03:31:52 AM »

I use the following and get great results. ViaCad, which can be found here - http://www.punchcad.com/products/viacad2d3dV6.htm and is simple to use for 2D and 3D work and is very powerful. It cost me about 53 a few months ago. Check out the demo. For Cam software you really cannot beat CamBam, which can be found here - http://www.cambam.co.uk/ and has 2 versions, 1 of which is free and unlimited. I chose the plus version as it is WELL worth what Andy (10bulls) is asking for it.

Let us know how you get on, Martin.
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MikeHenry
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2008, 04:04:54 PM »

Alibre CAM Express is available as a free download:

http://www.alibre.com/products/mechanical/alibre_cam_xpress.asp

It's probably pretty basic but may be enough to satisfy your needs.  If not, there are other added cost versions of Alibre CAM available as well and an integrated version of Alibre CAM comes with Alibre Expert.

I use Alibre Expert with SprutCAM which provides 5-axis milling and lathe features.  It's been hard for me to figure out but offers a lot of capability for the money, which was pretty inexpensive as a bundle with my Tormach CNC mill.

Mike
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