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Thread: New to CNC

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  1. #1
    I have been looking at CNC for a bit now, but a total newbie.

    I have on order a 3020T (200W) which I hope will fit my needs, for a relatively compact hobby machine to cut thin ply, PCB and acrylic in the main.

    For my first project I've been asked to cut some gaming pieces for an obscure game from the middle ages "rithmomachia" the pieces are triangles, squares and circles with a range of number engraved on them (see pic)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I plan on using Acrylic for the pieces, though I'm also toying with casting Pewter pieces and then engraving the numbers on them - would a 3020T cut soft white metal pewter ?

    Secondly I'm hoping to Use Sketchup pro 2018 for my designs and SketchUcam to convert this into G code. I've no real experience with either of these (I've dabbled with the Sketchup and watched a few Yuotubes and that's about it!).

    Would love to have and advice, pointers and help that can support me in this new venture.

    Later on I hope to cut some PCB's

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Britannicus1 View Post
    I plan on using Acrylic for the pieces, though I'm also toying with casting Pewter pieces and then engraving the numbers on them - would a 3020T cut soft white metal pewter ?
    Good choice for a learning machine but don't expect the world from it. My advice for these machines is not to waste money trying to make it better, instead work it to death and make it earn money for the next one.!

    Yes, it will do it if you take light cuts and use the correct tool with correct feeds n speeds, etc. However, if the spindle is one of the cheaper models then the runout and power could make it a challenge.
    Be prepared to snap a few cutters at first and strongly suggest you cast some extra pieces to practice on first. Go's without saying you should test the code on something soft but dense that will hold an edge first. Model foam or clay is good for this, even acrylic. I suggest you use Cast acrylic as well because it machines so much nicer than the other stuff.

    Can't help with advising on sketch not used it enough for drawing and never for spitting out code..!

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  4. #3
    Cheers thanks for that , One thought I'd had was to use the CNC to cut molds for casting pewter - I was thinking of cutting it out of a block of solid plaster of Paris - soft enough to cut but holds a shape and is heat resistant. I plan on trying to walk before i try to run. You mention using the correct tool - is there a good reference source I should go to for which cutters to use ?

  5. #4
    I use SketchUp for my 3D printing. I would never pay money for it. It is OK if you want a block with a hole in it, but anything more refined is a struggle to draw. Why don't you go straight on to Fusion360, it is free and much more 'organic' than SketchUp. In fact I need to learn Fusion360, I am tiring of Sketchup.
    No man is an island entire of itself; every man
    is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
    if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
    is the less.

    Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
    John Donne 1624

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  7. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Britannicus1 View Post
    You mention using the correct tool - is there a good reference source I should go to for which cutters to use ?
    Not really other than making sure you use a tool suitable for that material and any good tool provider will have info on which tool suits what material best.
    After that, it's more personal choice through experience and every machine cuts slightly different depending on stiffness and several other variables. So speed n feed settings can vary widely between users.
    Not many will be cutting pewter so won't get too many suggesting what they use but I'd guess any tool suitable for aluminum would work. For aluminum you want uncoated tooling, carbide works best and lasts longest, but it's expensive and with your machine you probably won't be able to cut at the correct feeds to suit carbide. In which case you'll be better with High speed steel(HSS)

    Quote Originally Posted by cropwell View Post
    Why don't you go straight on to Fusion360, it is free and much more 'organic' than SketchUp. In fact I need to learn Fusion360, I am tiring of Sketchup.
    I'm not sure it's still free.? Sure I heard that they had started charging a subscription for it, but I might be wrong so don't quote me on it.!

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  9. #6
    Doddy's Avatar
    Lives in Preston, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 7 Hours Ago Has been a member for 6-7 years. Has a total post count of 585. Received thanks 97 times, giving thanks to others 21 times.
    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    I'm not sure it's still free.? Sure I heard that they had started charging a subscription for it, but I might be wrong so don't quote me on it.!
    Damn, just quoted you on it. The licensing for F360 has certainly changed but there is an licensing option that remains free for hobbyists, although limited in terms of the extra tools/capabilities that it offered(collaboration, data translators, and more). This is a true personal-use rather than the earlier start-up license, and you are limited as a hobbyist to <$1000 revenue from your activities with F360.

    That will suit many, but not all of us hobbyists.

    I honestly don't know what licensing I get - I subscribe to another Autodesk product (Eagle) and that's resulted in me getting some form of subscription license for free, which I think includes collaboration, but not full-fat F-360.

    To the OP, Fusion 360 is a good 3D CAD modelling tool, which, as discussed, can be got for free. Don't underestimate the learning curve associated with it, however, although it's time well invested if you do a lot of modelling. I've tried Sketchup in the past and, to be honest, wouldn't piss on it if it was on fire.

    Understand also that you have more tools in the toolchain than just the CAD/drawing package. I'd start looking at the machine controller (e..g MACH3) and the CAM software (e.g. CAMBAM) and understand their place in the overall toolchain.

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  11. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Doddy View Post

    To the OP, Fusion 360 is a good 3D CAD modelling tool, which, as discussed, can be got for free. Don't underestimate the learning curve associated with it, however, although it's time well invested if you do a lot of modelling. I've tried Sketchup in the past and, to be honest, wouldn't piss on it if it was on fire.
    .
    Thanks for the pointer, I'm interested in fusion 360, but the only free download is only for 12 months. Having talked to a few folks it's definitely the better product, but reluctant to spend a lot of time learning something if i only get to use it for 12 months .

    I find Sketchup frustrating in that the menus seem to be endlessly re-written so good advice is difficult to get, but at least I have a licence to work with .

  12. #8
    DaveL's Avatar
    Lives in Sudbury, Suffolk, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 8 Hours Ago Has been a member for 1-2 years. Has a total post count of 13. Received thanks 4 times, giving thanks to others 1 times.
    Fusion360 is supplied on a yearly renewable license, you just have to jump through a few hoops to get it renewed for free.

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  14. #9
    OK - that changes the situation a bit :-) . just didn't want to be stuck with a huge bill once they'd locked me into their product

  15. #10
    Hi I'm Harry, a newbie to the site. I've been browsing on here a while but I've finally signed up this morning. I work in the machining industry and I like to make things at home too. I've always liked metalworking and making gifts for people.

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