Creating Outlines and Paths in Adobe Illistrator

One of the machines I have access to is a Wazer water-jet machine that uses a combination of water and an abrasive to cut through pretty much any material you desire under 3/4" in thickness.

After doing a bit of research on how to prepare the machine for cutting I realized I would need a template file to work off of to get a real experience with my own project instead of using the sample files.

I decided upon my side business logo, a basic design so easy to work off of. Now I couldn't directly drop this file into the Wazer program as it was a .png, and did not support .png files. It requires a file with a tool-path embedded in it to know where to cut. 

After doing a bit of searching online I found this tutorial which showed exactly how to convert an image into a traceable form in which I could send to the Wazer program.

Basically you import your image, select it, and under Objects > Image Trace > Expand it would trace the object outline and its ready to go to export and send to the Wazer program to get ready for cutting. If the image isn't black and white or easily traceable then you need to convert it to either a grey scale or black and white. You can do before clicking expand, under the Properties panel at the top go down till you find the Image Trace > Preset > Silhouette and this will convert it to black and white. Then click the Expand button below it.

You can see the trace lines more easily if you go to View > Outlines which will show you only the outlines of your image.

I came back the next day to laser cut it out to see if that worked fine like in the program. I placed it in the Voccell laser engraver's application and prepped it for cutting. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn't have everything cut so I figured out which parts I wanted to be engraved and which cut.

I am very pleased with the outcome!

CNC Machining Oneshop Redding error33

Alright, back at it again. So after running through a simple path to see if it would stop before completion I found that it still does, what would happen is it would go through about 40% of its path, then give the carbide an error code (error33) and stop the toolpath, I've gone through a bunch of different cuts, sometimes trying them several times and nothing worked. I've tried different outlets, different power banks entirely for the router but always had the same result. I asked my brother as he mentioned having some similar issues and tried his solutions but didn't work. What he had done was to lower the fine tolerance of the passes to have a rougher cut out, then come by later with another tool to clean it up.

After looking a bit online forums I found a few possible solutions. 

Carbide 3D's Shapeoko cnc machine was originally designed in metric VS imperial. It supports imperial, however it wasn't designed specifically for this and so has to do calculations to convert it to that and so has a lot more of a load than if you where working with metric. If this is the issue then simply designing everything in imperial then just switch the units it measures to metric when setting the tool paths.

This would also explain why not so many people are having this issue as most people use metric for designing and creating toolpath's. Which I primarily use as well but didn't have any metric measuring tapes when setting the stock and so set the unit of measurement to imperial.
Another possible reason for the issue is the sheer amount of digits it has to calculate and one guy said he solved the issue by rounding everything to only have at most 3 decimal spots. For instance, if the side load cutting rate is at 0.04195 you would simply round that to 0.042 and etc with all the settings. Apparently this reduces the overall load the machine has to take.

Here is a link to the forum that I got this information on: https://forum.shapeoko.com/viewtopic.php?t=8237

So after making a few modifications to the tool path settings, I set it running again and await the results.


Lazer Engraving Oneshop Redding

Oneshop has a laser engraver, the Voccell DLS can cut through and engrave quite a few materials and I was very excited to try it out. So I asked Tyler for a quick rundown on the machine and I was off. It's extremely simple to run and there is a list of materials and what outputs for each one to achieve certain things like cutting vs engraving. I did a few test runs with wood using my logo from my small side business and the speed and ease of use are insane! 

I tried it on a piece of metal with not nearly as good of an outcome but still showed up. I tried it with a painted one and anodized but pretty much the same outcome on both where it would only really show at an angle. 

After doing a couple of different test runs of a straight logo and things of that nature, I was curious on what would happen if I tried using an image and converting it to a point where it would show up on wood and still be recognizable. I found an image I liked and tried imputing it directly into the software that creates the g-code for the laser engraver, but it came up very dark and filled the entire area with a straight color which was not what I wanted as you couldn't make out anything in it. Then I remembered my father getting an app that would convert an image to have a sketchy look to it, like a hand drawing. I decided to download the app and convert the image through there, then plug it into the machine and see what would come out. This too didn't have the desired outcome, it would only show the more defined lines which didn't show very much only the bare outlines. I then took the image into photoshop and played around with the contrast, exposure and brightness to a point where I got the sketched lines to be a straight color instead of grayscale. I plugged it into the machine for an example and it looked much more promising. However, the image was of two people (my sister and her boyfriend) and his eyes came up as a straight black blob where you couldn't make out anything. I decided to clean that up manually which only took a couple of minutes and helped a lot with recognizing the people in the photo. 

Here is a photo of the final outcome and before image:


CNC Machining Oneshop Redding (router problems)

Today, when I got to Oneshop the router for the CNC machine, wouldn't turn on, the light would come on indicating that it has power, just the tool wouldn't spin. Was looking around thinking maybe a cord came loose or something of the sort, but nothing was loose. I asked Tyler (oneshop owner) about it and he said the brushes on the motor top may have worn down sufficiently to need to be replaced. Thankfully he had a couple of extra which I installed and that got it working again without a hitch.

After starting up another cut of Kevin (small circular paperweight) it started without issue and ran through about 80% of its path before it suddenly stopped moving. This was a bit annoying and I had noticed it doing the same with another cut. After posting this on Instagram, my brother mentioned having the same issue and that the solution was to lower the tolerance from its default 0.004in to something rougher and just create a new toolpath to clean it up afterward to get a cleaner finish. The reason it does that is the computer has to calculate each layer and multiplies over and over to the point where it overloads and crashes. I believe this is just an issue with this specific machine though I haven't tried it on the larger one they have.