Hello I am new to the whole cnc life/ hobby. I’m looking to start engraving on gun sliders and grips. Is there a way to import an outline of some sort to carbide create so I can lay the pattern out on the slide or grip to see how it will look and where they engraving will be? Or what is the best way to do a project like that? Thank you for your help😇
Find a CAD for the weapon in question or photograph it and redraw: https://shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Carbide_Create_Photo_Tracing
EDIT: Note that there was one customer who did this already: http://carbide3d.com/projects/024-1911-engraving/
A further note, please check all applicable laws in your locality if doing this to a weapon which you do not personally own.
To clarify the legal side, according the ATF if you are going to have a business that merely modifies the appearance of a firearm (engraving, camouflaging, painting, etc.) you should still be a licensed gunsmith to avoid running afoul of their rules. This primarily has to do with making sure you are not modifying serial numbers.
The ATF ruling in question: https://www.atf.gov/file/55461/download
I think Will has pointed you in the right direction. I would also be very careful with where Create sets your zero. On flat surfaces like slides, I would think the engraving would go well, provided you shim the slide so that the surface you are engraving is perfectly level with the X-Y plane of your machine. If not, you will get uneven surface depths. I’m not sure how you would engrave on a curved surface like grips to account for variation in Z height, at least not in Create. You may have to switch to a more advanced CAM program for that. I’m a firearms enthusiast though, and I look forward to seeing your work.
I haven’t used create, but one work around I’ve used, is to preform an oval pocket, or what ever shape, so there will be a flat surface to re zero, and then run the engraving program.
This is out of my league, but I do know (from reading) some cams let you engrave on curves, and there is probing a part to get the shape of the part in a DXF maybe, then add the text?
I’ve always been able to cheat and do the flat first. Works with any CAM, if acceptable
One option here would be to set up the file as a level / flat engraving, then use a probe to auto-level and have G-code mapped to the resulting depth variations. Mostly this is done for PCBs, hence: https://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/CAM#Leveling
Some members of this forum use Estlcam. I haven’t used it myself but if I had this kind of project I would look into it as a possible option. It can do a surface scan and then adapt the gcode to carve relative to that surface.
That’s really interesting Matt. Pretty cool how they use what looks like aluminum foil as a “touch” plate that conforms to the surface. Seems like that would work pretty well for shallow angled surfaces. Maybe not so much for steep angles, but then we are limited by not having a 4th or 5th axis on our machines. Only so much you can do.
Edit: Estlcam seems very reasonably priced as well!
Re: Curved surfaces I have not tried this spring loaded tool, but curious to see how well it would perform - if it works it would save a lot of messing around in CAM.
Re: Estlcam, just a caution but I think that for some features you have to re-flash your machine’s ROM, and I don’t know if this is one of those. I believe one forum member even built a “two controller board” project so he can control his machine either with the stock GRBL firmware or the Estlecam firmware without having to re-flash. Again I haven’t personally done any of this, just bringing it to your attention.
Estlcam and CM are two very different programs, to install Estlcam you do have to flash your controller board and you can reflash it back for CM BUT I have not tried to reflash back to CM, Read read read before you do, the help on Estlcam is very hard to reach, as he is only working Estlcam at a hobby level. Reach out to C3D support and ask them about it, they are very helpful and cooperative.
If you can create a 3D model of the gun, or anything else curved you want to engrave on, Aspire has a function to “project toolpath onto 3D surface.” I have used this to engrave on domes, cylinders and other curved objects.