New user here, but not new to 3D design. I’ve been in 3D for 20 years now, first in Mechanical Desktop and moving to SolidWorks. Can’t wait to wrap my brain around all of this.
I worked for a CNC shop for years, but on the product development end, not messing with NC programming. I want to get my feet wet as a home hobby.
So 3D creation, design for manufacturing, and good practices for machining are handled, as I’ve also got a decent amount of experience running a Bridgeport manual mill. The struggle is figuring out gcode using SolidWorks CAM, so I’m looking for some basics to get going.
I built a couple of basic programs, but I’m seeing some hiccups. I see the router make a few moves at the beginning and end of the program that aren’t in the program simulation. For example, in SolidWorks I built a table surfacing program where the cutter will start at one corner and face cut a 30 x 30 square. I noted I have to jog the machine to 15, 15 from 0,0, (using the front left corner as 0,0,) to get it to run the program in the correct position without crashing into the machine extents. Once there I hit reset zero in UGS with the Z all the way up to test run the program with the router off with no cutter. From there I can send it, but I get an error at the front of the program, which I think is because I may have a tool change command in the file which I understand may be causing the hiccup since we don’t have a tool changer. If I hit play again it will run the program.
This is where it gets interesting. It will rapid to the start of the program, the front right corner, 15,-15 away from 0,0 as the part is orientated in SolidWorks, but it plunges the router down to what appears to be the level of the cut before it starts moving. Once there it will lift the cutter up to the retract height, then plunge it back to the cut depth and run the program. This tells me if I were to actually run the program with a cutter, it would bury it from 0,0, rapid traverse to 15,-,15, retract, then plunge it back in and begin the program. Can’t have that, I was thinking it would keep the cutter up until it got to the beginning of the cutter path and then plunge it, so I’m super confused.
So I’m pretty certain I didn’t apply these parameters in SolidWorks CAM. I went over the clearance / retract heights when making the program, and I don’t think that was something I told it to do. I would have expected the cutter to stay up while it traversed to the beginning of the path, then plunge and go.
I feel like it’s doing some things I’m not asking it to do. I backed up and wrote a simple program to cut a straight line left to right at a constant depth. But UGS won’t even run that program as it finds an error with the code & won’t let me hit the play button again in UGS to override it.
Two things, one of which I’m certain of. I have no idea how to write gcode for cutter paths other than the screwing around I’ve been doing with this, so that’s probably 99.999% of my problem. But I’m also wondering if I’m post processing the gcode in the proper format. Knowing there’s different languages for all brands of CNC machines, I’m post processing the path to an .NC file from SolidWorks CAM in GRBL format. I’ve not found really concrete info on what the Longboard likes to read and how to save .NC files to that config. There’s so much information available that I feel like everywhere I look is causing me to ADD on the internet and bounce around on a million pages without finding anything that really leads me in the right direction.
Sorry for the long first post, but basically I need help getting my program out of SolidWorks and into the LongBoard from UGS correctly, and I need some of y’all to point me in the direction of how to get the machine to do what I’m telling it to do without potentially hurling broken cutters across my garage because I crashed the machine. The goal is to make sure the business end of my cutters never touch anything other than the part I’m cutting when it’s spinning 10k+ RPM.