Week 4 – Even MORE CNC-ing

I really want to make some kind of lamp or other light fixture, but I wanted to do something simple for this first run on the big-boy CNC in the basement. (Plus I don’t have a whole of time between now and next Thursday where I can be on campus).

First, I thought of just enlarging the palette I made from last week into a normal size palette rather than a tiny travel version. I originally drew this up in Illustrator, and for some reason my version of Illustrator hates the .DXF file and doesn’t even have it as an option to export as …? So I tried another fun conversion website to go from SVG to DXF then import that into MasterCAM. But for some reason, the conversion made my drawing EXTREMELY LARGE (so large the the little measurement of what an inch on the screen measure was like 500″). Not sure how that happened.

So, instead of fighting with Illustrator and converting DXF and SVG and all that jazz, I went back to VectorWorks and drew up a simple palette (not sure why I’m so stuck up on palettes, but I’m going to go with the fact that it consists of easy shapes with both pockets and cuts). I was able to export out of that into an DXF file that MasterCAM was happy with and didn’t make the schematic 1000x larger. I will say after this experience I totally understand Ben’s explanation of you’ll how you’ll constantly go back and forth from CAD to CAM to CNC back to CAD then CAM then CAD then CAM then CNC.

After I went through the entire process in MasterCAM — making sure the correct machine was selected, setting the origin, setting the bit size, step depth, ease in/out, breakthrough, pocket depth, etc. and also making sure the animation looked correct. I was able to take my USB and fire up one of the CNC machines. My material thickness + the thickness of the spoilboard was going to be too thin for the screws and would most likely drive all the way through the spoilboard and beyond, so I had to add an extra piece of wood to screw down between my material and spoilboard to avoid that.

I placed a 1/4″ flat end mill bit along with the correct sized collet, set the origin of the bit, and zeroed it all, then I was finally able to start the cutting. Also my dumbass was dragging the shop vac around the cut thinking I was collecting dust but some idiot (me) didn’t actually turn it on. Not sure how I thought it was working but who said I was smart.

Also shoutout to my camerawoman, Leia.

So, it turned it fine. Nothing terribly special, if I were to use this (like the mini travel palette one from last week), I’d need to add some kind of seal to protect the wood from the paint/water.

Still, I really really want to make a lamp. I’ll start drawing up some schematics for this.

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