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Mach4 Information needed from experts
« on: June 08, 2019, 03:51:58 PM »
We are a company that works with marble.
At this moment we have a cnc machine and we are looking for a software for the machine and also a design software.
I am wondering if someone used coreldraw for designing different Lego's and text and somehow to send design to cnc machine.
My question is
 a)how the machine will read corel files
b) what hardware is needed
c) how accurate the reading will be(interface)
Any other suggestions

Re: Mach4 Information needed from experts
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2019, 06:09:27 PM »
this post would be best placed on the main Mach4 Discussion board, you'll get more replies there.

Mach4 is a CNC control software solution. It takes Gcode, an industry standard code for producing machine movement,
and in conjunction with a motion control board produces pulse streams which in turn control motor drivers which in turn
control the X,Y and Z axes of your machine.

Your question is really in two parts. You ask about Corel Draw, obviously you already use it in your design process? Mach4
does not 'read' Corel Draw but rather it 'reads' GCode.

There are a number of ways to produce Gcode, it can and used to be written by hand, but is these days produced by a CAM
program. A CAM program will take a digital drawing of your design, commonly produced by a CAD program, but also able
in many cases to accept designs from drawing programs like Corel Draw and convert it into a series of machine moves
which can then be presented to Mach4 and your machine.

Fully fledged professional CAM programs are expensive.....very expensive. Mastercam is one of the oldest and best CAM programs,
a fully featured copy could be as much as $20,000 plus a $2500 annual fee! You probably don't need anything like that,
there are many 2D and 2.5D CAM programs for under $1000.

Another CAD/CAM program that has become very popular amongst hobbyists is Fusion 360 because its free to hobbyists/students
and start-ups. It is fully featured and altogether pretty darn good. Even if you find a better solution I certainly recommend you
download it and try it out. Its made and supported by Autodesk, the same company who make AutoCAD, Inventor and HSMWorks.
Clearly their intention is to showcase their CAD/CAM software to attract new customers. Fusion 360 is very good
advertising material.

Mach4 runs on a PC, just about any PC will do, its not a particularly 'hungry' program. It produces numeric data which is
communicated to a motion controller, most commonly over a Ethernet cable, then via a breakout board to the motor drivers.
I use an Ethernet SmoothStepper made by Warp9TD. There are other worthy examples like PMDX-424, UC300, 57CNC and
Hicon Integra. They range in price from about $150 to about $600. The Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS) is in the middle at $190.
It requires a breakout board ( a amplifier/buffer to protect the ESS and connect to the wiring of the drives), which can be
had for as little as $25 up to $200 depending on the features you want.

Just as an example:

PC- entry level Laptop     $500
Mach4Hobby                   $200      (Mach4Industrial is an option $1400)
ESS                               $190
MB03 breakout board      $180       (fully featured breakout board by CNCRoom)

TOTAL                            $1070

I suggest you look on the NFS website to find some videos of Mach working.

The machine is likely to be very much more expensive than PC/Mach4/Breakout Board.

It is common for hobbyists machines to use stepper motors for the axis motors because they are cheap. For your situation
with a large machine you will probably require AC servos and could easily spend $500 per axis.

Rolled ballscrews are an economical way of producing linear movement from the rotational movement of the axis motors.
They are accurate to about 0.05mm over 300mm. They are lightly preloaded so there is no backlash. Up to about 1m in
length you could get them for about $200 each. If you require better accuracy then you need ground  (C5 or even C3) ballscrews
which are $2000 plus each.

As you can see if you require very good accuracy, as would be expected in a CNC machining center the cost goes up

You will require linear guides or some other 'rail' or method to guide the axes. You might get away with round rails a linear bearings
but the flexure is going to count against your accuracy. I would recommend rectangular rails and preloaded recirculating ball bearing

A Hiwin (Taiwainese) 15mm square rail and two heavy duty cars say 1m long would be around $150.

Just as an example, this is the cost breakdown for the components of three axis gantry type machine with slave Y axis
and servos on all four ballscrews, approx. size 1m x 1m

4 x 400W AC servos                                      $2000
3x  1200 mm rolled ballscrews  (X and 2 Y)     $600
1x 400mm rolled ballscrew (Z)                       $150
6x 15mm square rails/2xHD cars (2X and 4Y)  $600
2x 15mm square rails/2xHD cars (2Z)             $200

TOTAL                                                          $3550

Note this does not include the steel frame and gantry nor does it include the spindle. As you can see just the cost of good motion
components well exceed the cost PC/Mach/ESS/BoB.

I have no doubt you could reduce the cost of the components, for instance substituting steppers for servos, and roller bearings
instead of recirculating ball bearing cars/rails. At each cost saving decision you trade cost verses accuracy/rigidity/speed. You will
have to weigh carefully the initial cost of components against the potential of this machine to make money......penny pinching
at the outset may cost you operational efficiency/money making potential in the longer term.

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     and I miss him!

Offline Tweakie.CNC

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Re: Mach4 Information needed from experts
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2019, 01:38:06 AM »
this post would be best placed on the main Mach4 Discussion board, you'll get more replies there.

Topic moved here as Craig has suggested.


Offline Bill_O

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Re: Mach4 Information needed from experts
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 08:28:50 AM »

Very good and thorough explanation.


Offline Pedio

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Re: Mach4 Information needed from experts
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2019, 09:56:54 AM »
I use V-carve pro. It has both a CAD and a CAM embedded in the program. The thing I REALLY like is how it uses a V-bit to do lettering or graphics. It actually lifts the bit to give you sharp corners. Also, it will calculate how far apart two lines are and how far down a V-bit needs to go to fill in between the lines. The program is more directed at sign makers and such.