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Messages - Frank1959

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thanks guys,

Ger, when you say "Another issue with a saw blade is that the toolpath needs to be aligned with the blade, sort of like a tangential knife...."
But isn't any tool path ALWAYS  aligned with the tool?? Or  is it a case of the tool path being aligned with the spindle axis, which is the same axis as a cylindrical tool, but with a disc, the tool path would be  at 90º to the spindle axis.  Maybe  I am  getting confusing (or the subject starts to get confusing for me ; - (

Also, you mention "But you can only make straight cuts." For roughing out material, the cuts could be "straight" in say X or Y axis, but they would obviously need to follow the relief of the 3D form in the Z axis.

And lastly you mention , "I've seen this done in videos, and I think it was with a 5 axis machine.". Yes, here´s one
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GQmgyviNRU  , a Chinese machine, which interestingly combines a disc AND a milling tool in the same tool holder.

 Both ALPHACAM (British i think)  and PEGASUS CADCAM (Italian) are stone CAM programs that use discs to rough out. But, we are talking about prohibitive prices.....

I´m investigating if BOBCAD can do this, as a reasonably priced alternative....any user out there happy with it? And also, Rhino+Madcam...both seem under what ALPHACAM  costs.


many thanks,


Will let you know,


Thanks Craig,
yes and no, obviously the price of MASTERCAM   is over the top for my present level of expenditure, but yes, it might point in the right direction...i.e. a software that allows you to profile a custom tool. Nice one!
(Ps, love your sense of humour re wife and best friend ;D)

I mill polystyrene to make the occasional theatre or museum prop, and sometimes even dinosaurs and the like, on a home built 4 axis machine, using MACH3,   and DESKPROTO to create  tool paths. Check out http://www.formato3d.com/ One big step to achieve faster finishing came with the addition of a hot wire roughing sequence, made possible using a work around within DESKPROTO  that BR549 very kindly suggested.

I´m a sculptor, (www.franknorton.com) and my current project is  to build a machine capable of milling stone, obviously super-rigid and a much more powerful spindle. Initially it will be 3 axis plus rotary, but with a view to 5 axis. I want to do bas-reliefs in marble and sandstone.
Industrial software packages like ALPHACAM STONE   for tool-path generation in the stone and granite  sector have a function where they use diamond coated discs, the smaller ones in the region of 12”/300mm in diameter,  to rough “mill” the block of stone, the surplus material  is then removed manually by hammer and chisel!...before true milling with diamond and tungsten carbide tools. This greatly reduces working time.
But I know of no software...DESKPROTO definetely cant...that allows you to configure a disc as a tool for roughing out in this way.
Failing the use of a specific program which includes discs in the tool library, any tool-path 3D software where all the tool geometry parameters are configurable....diameter in both planes for example, or diameter in one plane and thickness in the other......would do.
Any ideas?
Many thanks in advance,

Frank Norton.

hi Roger, and Dude,
thx both for your input. I had seen references to FUSION but honestly thought it only was cabable of indexing, not continuous, and had so un-checked it off my list pf possible soultions, as indexing isn´t the way I need to go...large pieces cant easily be spun on a trunnion type rotation axis (A or B, or whatever you call it ).  Now I see that, yes, 5 axis continuous is possible. So i will continue investigating and try and see tutorials etc.
I came across videos of POWERMILL, and it looks exactly what I need, but haven´t been able to discover what price it´s at. Here´s a chinese tutorial video, in English.
Roger, have you considered "cnc tool kit"? http://www.cnc-toolkit.com/ It´s eems viable, free, but quite intensive at a programming level.
With regards our common interest in cnc machining stone, I´d be more than happy to share all info I find. Interested? Is your machine home built?
Yes, my web is at present only in Spanish. I´m Irish, but live in Spain and my customers are up to this only on a national level.
Are you considering using a diamond disc to rough out work before milling? It seems to be the way big industrial machines do it. But yet another complication when it come to programming, as I know of no software cabable of accepting the geometry of a flat disc and creating toolpaths for it. Ther is a high end  English industrial program, I cant think of the name at the moment, which does allow this.
More questions for you, Roger. How do you use AutoSketch at a 3D level?
Thanks again,

many thanks Tweakie, will check it out with interest.


I built a 3 axis milling machine 2 years ago with also has a rotary (A) axis, for milling polystyrene and polyurethane foam, it works fine. I use DESKPROTO to generate the g-codes, and of course Mach (3) to control my machine. Some of my work at www.franknorton.com.
Now I want to build a milling machine for marble and other stones. I´d like it to have a real fourth axis; that is, I´d like the spindle to actually tilt, and so get to under cuts on the material I´m milling.
A full 5 axis machine seems to be too complex mechanically....eventually I´d like to, but I want to be more realistic with my next build.
The spindle could tilt either parallel to the X or the Y axis, it doesn’t concern me at this stage.
DESKPROTO can´t generate g-codes for this kind of machine; it can for 5 axis index machine, where you tilt your work piece on a rotary trunnion table.
This is complicated while milling big pieces, a more straightforward approach seems to me to be for the spindle to do the tilting, so as to get to those hidden undercuts.
But I need a software package to generate my g-codes.
Any ideas? I don’t mind paying a reasonable amount of money.
Frank Norton.

Understood, thanks Pete! I will be recommending your machine here in Spain. Rgrds, Frank

thanks guys! I really like your machine!
I tried what you suggest in Deskproto, but it didn’t work ; -((
I ended up using a Contour Only routine, this worked fine, thanks to an idea from TP (BR549).
I have tried INKSCAPE for generating g codes for HotWire cutting, but have achieved poor results. The piece is usually cut in half, as Ink doesn’t allow me to choose where I want the cutting to start. It usually chooses a node on the vector far away from origin X0Y0, so cuts the piece in half just to get there before starting ; - ((. Of course, it doesnt "know" its cutting, cause it "thinks>" its a milling routine with a Z axis.  Any ideas??
Is there a preferred setting in Ink that works good for Hotwire cutting ? I use it for a plotter, and it works fine, but the plotter has a Z axis and it goes down to starting drawing anywhere on the line.
Thanks in advance and congrats with your machine!

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