Thread: Why CNC?
if you can imagine it, you can make it!
Tom, that has to be the quote of the week. :)
It was seeing all the hardware bits on eBay that set me wondering what the attraction was? But as you and others have pointed out, it's clearly the ease of CAD design that most attracts people to CNC, and I can understand that.
I think tomorrow (and probably quite a lot of tomorrows) will now be spent reviewing CAD packages. Then once I have found one I'm happy with I'll start thinking about bolting steppers on to my lathe.
Have a look at this one (free) http://doublecad.com/Download/tabid/1128/Default.aspx at bottom of page the free one.
I just remembered I had loaded it and have just tried it, looks OK but like any of the others will take time to look around, spent 10 minutes trying to find the ortho button.
Thanks for the link Peter. I have downloaded DoubleCad, but I hope the product itself was not written by the person who wrote the download form. It demanded from me a company name I haven't got; then even worse, demanded that I tell them the most-used CAD packages in my non-existent company, offering me a list to choose from, most of which I had never heard of and none of which I have ever used, without even thinking of giving me a "none of the above" exit from the input loop.
This is an appalling way to write any code. I spent 25 years writing software for a living, and one thing I learnt from that is that more than half your code space (and programming time) is taken up by exception and error handling; i.e. when the real world (or the end user) doesn't do what you think it's going to do. I shall look with interest at DoubleCAD, but I hope it's error handling is better than that on their web site!
In the bath this morning (which is where I do my most productive design work) an approach to the expensive software problem occurred to me which I need to experiment with. It may be of interest to others here, and if so I'll post details when I've tried it. Won't be until after Christmas though; too much needs to be done in the workshop first.
My word! You gents are all extremely helpful. The http://www.cnc4free.org/ link is a very useful one Jon, and seems to have the right philosophy for me now that we have to live on my meagre pension, namely: "If it costs money, we don't do it."
But looking at some of the lovely things people have made, I must say I am beginning to get the CNC bug :)
Are Alibre still doing their $99 offer? That was the bargain of the year. Of course I got referred to a UK dealer who wanted £99, but I knew the Yanks wouldn't turn away my $99 if I pressed on regardless.
My old AutoCAD no longer works now I have to go Windows 7, looked up the replacement and blenched at the price. Searched el webbo for AutoCAD look alikes and ProgeCAD for £220 looks the best bet. Anyone tried it?
CamBam is good, I sent him the money. You have one minor hurdle to leap before you can start stacking cuts down the left hand side of the screen, perhaps not quite as intuitive as the manual thinks. Having to redefine the tool every single blooming time is a pain in the butt and somewhat fraught.
I make the odd sign or plaque now and then but the real reason was this: (and I saw this quote on a CNC site somewhere but it stuck)
"to make something with my hands that can make something I could never make with my hands"
And that's the real reason, I'd have loved to have been a carpenter but I'm hamfisted where chisels/planes etc are concerned BUT I'm good with CAD and decent at 3d modelling and frigging amazing with a welder. Bish bash bosh, one CNC router and I can now carve wood better than the artist guy who lives in the next valley, faster and better quality too and I don't even own a chisel.
Jeff.Nothing is foolproof......to a sufficiently talented fool!
I knew I'd arrived with files and saws when my metalwork tutor was asked for someone to copy a security key. With a whole college to choose from he picked me. I cut it out of mild steel on a bench pin, got 40 Bensons and she said it worked better than the original which slightly worried me. I thought it would work the same. Maybe she was just being kind :whistling:
I was taught well for 3 years. I can make most anything by hand (so long as I can find my +4.0 close up glasses for the fiddly bits). OTOH CNC is much easier if you can live within the constraints of 2.5D and radii on internals
Gentlemen, you have converted me! I am now gathering the bits and pieces to make a CNC pick-and-place machine for populating PCBs. I couldn't even estimate the number of PCBs I have built by hand over the years, but now I'm looking forward to leaning back in my chair and watching a robot do all the work.
After that will come the various robotics for machining die-cast cases, fitting the PCBs in them, and testing the end product. Time scale to be in production is six months, but for the first time in my life there are no commercial pressures on me so if it takes longer, who cares?
By the way, surveying the CAD scene there seems to be plenty of 2D and 2.5D software around at sensible prices, but there doesn't seem to be so much 3D. How important / useful is 3D? Do people here use it? If you do, could you live without it?
My grateful thanks to all who have responded so magnificently to a stupid newbie's questions! I now understand your enthusiasm for the subject. :)