Newbie to CNC

This forum is dedicated to those Hobbyists Interested in CNC machining in their home shops. (Digital Read Outs are also topical, as is CAD/CAM as it relates to CNC)

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Jorgens
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Location: South of Oslo, Norway

Newbie to CNC

Post by Jorgens » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:47 am

Hi all.
I`m a Norwegin who is working for a small robotic company.
We are in need of a CNC lathe for prototype, and later, serial production of mainly aluminium parts. (Discs)
As I have NO experience with cnc machining (on the other hand I have it with manual milling and lathes) I need some information.

First; We are about to buy a second hand cnc lathe. Max dia needed for workpiece is 200 mm.
Our programmer is working in Solidworks 3D.

So: There are a lot of machines for sale in Norway, but some are old- like a Traub TND 360 with TX8 control from 1985.
We would like to export Solidworks files directly to the machine. Is it possible to convert this in a way so the machine can use the file?
If so, what is needed?
And if not, what year did machines that can do this come out to the marked?


Thanks in advance

Br
Jørgen.

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Dave_C
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Dave_C » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:57 am

Jorgen,

If solidworks will do a G-Code post for your particular machine you should be fine. No mater what Cad program you use it will need the CAM feature as well to make the G-Code from your drawing. Then it is just a mater of making sure you have the right post processor that writes the G-Code properly for your machine.

For example: I use Bob-Cad to draw my parts. Then Bob-Cad converts the drawing into machine moves (G-CODE) using the Post processor written for Mach 3 which in turn runs the CNC machine.

Dave C.
I learn something new every day! Problem is I forget two.

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Gary Armitstead
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Gary Armitstead » Wed Aug 26, 2015 9:17 am

Jorgen,

I am a retired die sinker/tool and die maker and in the later years of my trade I did programming for CNC mills and some lathes, I am also familiar with Solidworks and as far as I know, that software does NOT generate G code. I used/use MasterCam for BOTH drawing (CAD work) and to generate code to run mills and lathes. The software has to have the capability to generate toolpaths from the drawing geometry, surfaces and solids. After the toolpath is generated, then the software has to have a post processor (also a software program to change the physical toolpath into the code that your particular lathe or mill controller will understand. These post processors can vary quite a bit depending on the controller used. Good luck. Getting into CNC work can get very pricey in the beginning. Lots of information needed to make the right purchase, new or used.
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

Jorgens
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Location: South of Oslo, Norway

Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Jorgens » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:32 am

Thanks to both of you- I will check with our programmer about the G code in Solidworks.


Jørgen

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Marty_Escarcega
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Marty_Escarcega » Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:30 am

Jorgens wrote:Thanks to both of you- I will check with our programmer about the G code in Solidworks.


Jørgen
As Gary mentioned, Solidworks is primarily a CAD program. You will need to export the file to a CAM program to generate your Gcode.
Just make sure the machine you look for understands common G code. Some have their own interpretation, quirks or don't understand all the common G code commands.
"Jack of all Trades, Master of None"

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Richard_W
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Richard_W » Sat Aug 29, 2015 5:11 pm

The new Hurco mill I seen at the tool show in Portland, OR showed the program generated from a print file right on the control. It was impressive. Up until that point in time I wanted a Haas mill. Not having done much with CAD or Cam you would need to check out all the details for yourself. Also it would help if you had about $80K to work with, which I don't have or I would have brought it home.

Jorgens
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Location: South of Oslo, Norway

Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Jorgens » Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:56 pm

Thanks for your replies guys, I will keep on digging into this.


Jørgen

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Bill Shields
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Bill Shields » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:13 pm

Jorgens:

the TX8 control on that machine is rather limited in what it can do with graphic input from the outside world. I personally would recommend staying away from a 30 year old machine unless you KNOW you can get parts and support from someone local to keep it running.

A good looking machine with worn out ways and ball screws can be a nightmare to bring into tolerance.

In general, the choice of a machine should also include availability of parts and service. The best machine in the world is worth nothing if you cannot keep it running.

CAM:

As said, SolidWorks is a Solid Modeling Design package, not intended to drive machines.

There are several 'FOR SOLIDWORKS' CAM packages that run INSIDE of SolidWorks for generating machine code files.

I can name a few, but since I work for one of those companies I will refrain from advertising anyone's product here.

All that being said....you STILL need to know how to setup and program the machine to make it run. Do NOT think you can substitute purchasing software for proper training on the machine.

If you want to contact me off-line, I will be happy to help.

bshields at mehrs dot com

Dor_Crank
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Dor_Crank » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:44 pm

Yes, Solidworks can't generate G-code. I agree with Gary. The software co. want you to buy
both MasterCAD and Solidworks.

MasterCAD doesn't do 3D well as Solidworks. MC is basically a 2D design software. For instance,
when I tried to mill my steam cylinder's outer wall depression (where insulation is to be wrapped),
it's not possible to draw that using the MC*. I had to ask one of the other students who
was trained to do SW to re-draw my design. He then had to go back to MC to
generate the G-code. What a waste of time (n' $$). Neither software is complete (unless your
object is basically a 2D with straight thickness, no curves). Attached photo of my bronze cylinder
milled by Haas at the adult machine shop class. Used a ball end mill. Note the channel also has
salients (2) for drain valves. The cylinder is for my 1/19th scale (16mm/ft or ~ 5/8" per ft) British
2ft Na. gauge live steam engine on 0-ga. track.

Yes, I too bought BobCAD software at a student price at the LA Convention Westec show this month.
The seller said it can generate G-codes. At the show, I asked the tech guy to draw me a simpler
version of my cyl above from my hand sketch. He easily did the channeling around a basic cylinder
and generated G-code as my fellow student did with SW n' MC. So I bought the software for a little
under $500 (student price but of full useful version, not like a crippled student version by MasterCAD
company but free). The BC software is of very good price and been around for more than 7 yrs.
I haven't loaded it yet in my PC. For those who want BC at a good price, I suggest you take a CNC night
class (or day if offered) locally at either a trade school or cheaper, at a public school (adult), learn basic
CAD n' CNC machining. I don't think too many of us can mill curves using our manual milling machine.
Basically, with our manual mill, we can only do squares and holes. No, I don't have an indexer or a rotary
table.

Since Jorgen's concern is of lathe and not milling machine, I have no idea about neither MC or SW version
for your lathe or any lathe. At the machine shop class, we had a CNC lathe but none of our instructors were
teaching it and was sold.

Does anyone know whether a typical CNC lathe also acts as a shaper machine? I.e., the software stops at
the middle of a cylindrical stock and can start fluting along it's length or cut a concentric groove at some
point on the work shaft but not grooving all the way around?

*Or perhaps very hard to draw with MC
Attachments
brnze cyl tilted - reduced.jpg

RET
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by RET » Thu Oct 01, 2015 8:50 am

Hi Dor_Crank,

Don & I went to the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show yesterday. WOW! A very impressive show. Anyway, while we were there, I saw both Solidworks and MASTERCAM at their booths. Solidworks makes beautiful drawings, but as you say it doesn't do CAM. MASTERCAM has an add-on for Solidworks that is designed to work with it and does the CAM part.

MASTERCAM comes in several flavours. The basic package is 2 1/2 D, not 3. That is probably what you have seen. You can also get the full 3D version for more money. Solids is part of both versions. The cost is 7 to 10 thousand dollars per "seat" with about $1,200.00 per year "maintenance" for which you get updates and support for the software, but not training. Training is extra. MASTERCAM also has program verification software to check the code once it has been created. This is better and safer than having to verify the code on the machine.

As far as the ability to use the tool bit as a cutter like a shaper, it is likely possible, provided that you can use the spindle like a rotary table, but why bother when a vertical machining centre will do it better and easier and faster.

I also made a cylinder like yours, but I wrote the code for it myself in two separate sections. That code is simple enough that you don't need CAM. The first program used a 1/8" ball end end mill to go around the recessed portion and the second program used a standard end mill to take out the material inside and to flatten off the top. In the pictures you can see the CNC mill setup and the finished part. I made the mill and the rotary headstock shown in the picture and both work very well. The cylinder will be part of a power reverse unit for Big Boy.

Richard Trounce.
Attachments
IMGA0493a.jpg
General setup
IMGA0498a.jpg
A closer view
IMGA0508a.jpg
The finished part.

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Gary Armitstead
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Gary Armitstead » Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:31 pm

Dor_Crank wrote:Yes, Solidworks can't generate G-code. I agree with Gary. The software co. want you to buy
both MasterCAD and Solidworks.

MasterCAD doesn't do 3D well as Solidworks. MC is basically a 2D design software. For instance,
when I tried to mill my steam cylinder's outer wall depression (where insulation is to be wrapped),
it's not possible to draw that using the MC*. I had to ask one of the other students who
was trained to do SW to re-draw my design. He then had to go back to MC to
generate the G-code. What a waste of time (n' $$). Neither software is complete (unless your
object is basically a 2D with straight thickness, no curves). Attached photo of my bronze cylinder
milled by Haas at the adult machine shop class. Used a ball end mill. Note the channel also has
salients (2) for drain valves. The cylinder is for my 1/19th scale (16mm/ft or ~ 5/8" per ft) British
2ft Na. gauge live steam engine on 0-ga. track.

Yes, I too bought BobCAD software at a student price at the LA Convention Westec show this month.
The seller said it can generate G-codes. At the show, I asked the tech guy to draw me a simpler
version of my cyl above from my hand sketch. He easily did the channeling around a basic cylinder
and generated G-code as my fellow student did with SW n' MC. So I bought the software for a little
under $500 (student price but of full useful version, not like a crippled student version by MasterCAD
company but free). The BC software is of very good price and been around for more than 7 yrs.
I haven't loaded it yet in my PC. For those who want BC at a good price, I suggest you take a CNC night
class (or day if offered) locally at either a trade school or cheaper, at a public school (adult), learn basic
CAD n' CNC machining. I don't think too many of us can mill curves using our manual milling machine.
Basically, with our manual mill, we can only do squares and holes. No, I don't have an indexer or a rotary
table.

Since Jorgen's concern is of lathe and not milling machine, I have no idea about neither MC or SW version
for your lathe or any lathe. At the machine shop class, we had a CNC lathe but none of our instructors were
teaching it and was sold.

Does anyone know whether a typical CNC lathe also acts as a shaper machine? I.e., the software stops at
the middle of a cylindrical stock and can start fluting along it's length or cut a concentric groove at some
point on the work shaft but not grooving all the way around?

*Or perhaps very hard to draw with MC
I have been away from this thread for a while and just happened to look at it again this morning. I REALLY have to take issue with some of the statements above in this quote.

Dor_Crank,

Maybe you are confused with the names of some of the software you mentioned above OR just don't know the difference. MasterCad is NOT MasterCam! MasterCam has been around since the late eighties and is made by an American company in Toland, Connecticut. MasterCad is a product produced in the UK.

MasterCAM is a very high-end product that definitely does 3D drawing in both surfaces and solids. One seat of MasterCam with the Solids module added was about $15,000 in the late 1990's. The solids module does everything that Solidworks does. I have actually used BOTH Solidworks and MasterCam in my trade to produce forging dies for aerospace parts. It will produce ANY radical "swarfed" surface you could want! You can then machine that surface with ANY mill or lathe produced in the world today. MasterCAM will tool path from 2 axis all the way through 8-10 axis machining. Arguably some of the most complicated machining on the planet.

Solidworks is great for drawing parts in 3D as a "solid" especially when those parts are part of a larger assembly. Individual parts are constantly checked for "fit" to adjoining parts and any discrepancy is automatically noted to the user. It also keeps track of every "nut and bolt" used and material used (size and type of....). But as said before, it won't generate the codes you need to machine the parts.

MasterCAM, on the other hand, DOES generate the code to machine ANY part in ANY type of machine, whether mill or lathe. In fact it will do machining with NC routers and also does NC EDM machines! I have drawn 3D wireframe in MasterCAM and used that to machine dies and parts. I have also used MasterCAM's solids to produce some very complicated shapes in forging dies and parts. Your cylinder block would take me less than 5-8 minutes to draw and surface OR in solids and start to program the tool paths within 10 minutes ready to set-up and machine.

As far as BobCad is concerned, it is considered a "joke" in Industrial applications. Any serious manufacturer "laughs" at it. I wouldn't take it for free.

MasterCAM used to sell a Student version of MasterCAM called MasterCAM DESIGN. DESIGN is very strong software capable of 3D drawing wireframe and surfacing. Any and all types of file formats can be converted and sent to other software, including Solidworks if you so desire. If you take a night class at a Community College or HS in your area that offers MasterCAM, you might ask about it. That school software is sold through MasterCAM's Educational Company in Gig Harbor, Washington. I paid about $200 for my DESIGN version at that time (as long as I was attending school). It may have changed now because I was involved more than 18 years ago.

I'm not ranting, I just wanted to clear-up some misleading statements, IMHO.
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

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Bill Shields
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Re: Newbie to CNC

Post by Bill Shields » Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:57 pm

ANY PART IN ANY MACHINE?....Hmmmm....guess you have not seen a lot of the machines that it will not support.

I am not saying it is not a good product, but it is not a 100% of anything..and it has been around a lot longer than since the late 80's (I first saw it on an Apple II if that gives you an idea).

It is also good to hear you think so highly of BobCAD

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