CAMheads CNC Router Forum By: CAMaster CNC

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Mike Fuson 01-21-2018 01:46 AM

Trying to learn the lingo...
For the last 2-3 weeks Iíve been doing a ton of research almost to the point of obsession. But for someone like me that up until a few weeks ago only knew what a cnc router looked like in a magazine, itís proven to be hard research because I donít know what so many of the terms are referring to. So I thought it would be best to ask you guys for some definitions of what these words mean or refer to. It would sure help as I read and watch videos to know what the terms mean instead of further confusing me. So if you donít care, here are some words Iím having trouble with.


2. CAD

3. CAM

4. Post Processor

5. Nesting

6. Optimization

7. DXF file

8. G- code

There may be a post or thread somewhere here that these terms have been gone over that Iíve not found, if so my apologies.

Gary Campbell 01-21-2018 09:27 AM

Vectors: Similar to lines, except that they possess start, end direction properties. Can be straight, curved or an arc. Can be open (2 separate ends) or closed into a shape. Common shapes are rectangles, circles, etc. For more info, download a trial copy of VCarve Pro and use [CTRL] + [F] to search out vector in the Help contents

CAD: Computer Aided Design What we design projects with

CAM: Computer Aided Machining What we use to apply machining operations to our vectors

Post Processor: An internal processor that takes CAM operations and converts them to the specific requirements of a given machine For example, VCPro has over 400 of them. A CAMaster requires 1 or 2 (with rotary)

Nesting: Mathematical process of placing numerous pieces on 1 or more pieces of material

Optimization...generic term Google it. All of the above could include it

DXF File: Stands for Drawing Exchange File. Used by CAM programs as a sort of common language to allow vectors from one to be used in another

Gcode: A text language that is understood by CNC controllers to provide the motions of the machine.

A sentence: Your CAD program can import a DXF file, optimize them with nesting, apply CAM operations, and then post process them into Gcode files. Simple, right?

See you at the CAMaster School in March

james mcgrew 01-21-2018 09:27 AM

I will give this a try

2. CAD Computer aided design, allows user to design by pacing "Vectors" at given points to create a code that can be translated by CAM to an action such as machining or printing

1.Vectors lines (visual) between given points to create machinable or printable code

3. CAM Computer aided machining,, translates the code sent by CAD using a post processor to machine parts

CAM is the part of a CAD program which can create tool paths

4. Post Processor translation of specific methods a machine uses ( tool locations, feed speeds, etc) and the code sent to perform the action as requested Basically translates CADCAM code to machine controller

5. Nesting fitting parts to a given area

6. Optimization fitting parts to a given area using the best fitting between them possible.

7. DXF file one of several file types to transfer written code

8. G- code file structure commands controller to move or make machine perform expected task ... I asked Bill once how much Gcode do i need to understand to do this,, his answer was "About enough to order a mexican meal" I have learned more since then but not as much as most, yet i have machined anything they have !

Most all of this i learned on the fly, if at all.. do you have vsectric software yet ? if not go to their page and download the demo program for Vcarvepro. it is free and is the full program, it will allow you to learn before you buy and will allow you to save files you just cannot run them till you own the software. if you buy a CAMaster i believe VCP is included ?

james mcgrew 01-21-2018 09:29 AM

And after reading Garys post i feelI got most of it right !!

Jim_in_PA 01-21-2018 11:27 AM

Just like in the telecom industry I just spent many years earning a living, this space has it's own extensive list of TLAs and FLAs. (three letter acronyms and four letter acronyms) [lol]

T.R.MacMunn 01-21-2018 12:41 PM

Mike, I'll add some "clarity" to the "vector" definition.

Lets say you have a 2 axis CNC ( that would be a vinyl cutter ... I don't think the ability to raise & lower the blade would count as another axis) ... Anyway ...
I'm sure you've seen digital prints that when you get get close up, you can see the pixels. Lets say it was a photo of your name "Fuson" ...... if you try to cut that out on a vinyl cutter, it'll cut every pixel. In other words, a mess.
However, if you convert that to a vector, it will have an infinitely this outline that CNC machines can follow. With a vinyl cutter, you cut "on the line" . With a router. you can cut inside, outside , or on the line .... but it still follows that line.

Any of the professional drawing programs work in vectors. Coreldraw. Illustrator, Inkscape, & all the sign-specific programs. Aspire, VCPro, etc., as well

Mike Fuson 01-21-2018 10:38 PM

Thanks for the responses, everything is much more clear now.
I started my cabinet building business 20 years ago using what was called delta cad, and I still use it for some things that kcd wonít do. Iíve been using vectors all this time with it just didnít know thatís what it was called. From what Iíve seen the Vectric software is much more sophisticated. Iíll download the trial version of Vcarve, excellent idea to get familiar of what it can do. Thanks again.

Ger21 01-22-2018 11:46 AM

From my experience, most cad programs don't call lines "vectors", but they are basically the same thing.

I can draw a line in AutoCAD, save it as a .dxf file, and import it into Aspire, and it's then called a vector.
In simple terms, a vector is just a line.

Mike Fuson 01-22-2018 07:18 PM

I like simple Gerry. I donít know why they change the names of things, when I was in school names started watch a capital letter, now they say it upper case... maybe they just want us to sound fancy I guess. I found it hard to help my son with his homework because of all the fancy terms they have today and none of it was anything that I hadnít learned when I was his age. Simple is better.

Rlee1972 01-22-2018 09:16 PM

If looking for some good beginner's basic reading for the world of CNC, might I recommend an online search along the lines of "CNC 101" or "CNC for beginners". I found several really good articles from many points of view when I was beginning to research the field. It was also a big help for terminology immersion, etc. I am sure you have been down this road by now but thought I would mention just in case....

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