Newbie Questions

Hi everyone, just purchased the Shapeoko 3 and am really excited to use it! I tried looking through the forum for answers to my questions, but would be grateful if anybody could chime in. My forum-fu isn’t the best.

Will Carbide Create suffice for most projects? I anticipate doing inlays, basic endmilling, and lettering. Do I need to get F-Engrave or Inkscape? I have access to Adobe Illustrator. I’m just not familiar enough with design and file formats to know.

For v-carving, do I use 60 degree, 90 degree, or both? Are there certain situations where you would use one or the other?

Are people happy with the quality/price of the carbide bits, or are the other brands you like or trust?

Thanks in advance for any help. Mark

Carbide Create is a rudimentary drawing / CAD tool, but has decent back-end CAM capabilities (and keeps getting better). http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Carbide_Create

F-Engrave is a nice (free/opensource) turnkey tool — it affords a few options which Carbide Create doesn’t for engraving, so might be a nice thing to fall back on if you find you need access to one of those features. http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/F-Engrave

InkScape is a decent (RGB/screen-oriented) vector drawing program — if you’re comfortable using Adobe Illustrator, there’s no reason to use Inkscape unless you need one of the specialty plug-ins for it such as gcodetools, or one of the ones which exports to OpenSCAD. http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Inkscape

My suggestion would be to draw / create in Adobe Illustrator, then save as a .svg, then open that svg in Carbide Create and do CAM there.

Here’s a bit of information on file formats: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/File_formats — please let us know if anything is unclear or could be improved on.

The wiki has a guideline for text size vs. bit angle: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Endmills#V-bits

The tradeoff is feature size vs. feature depth — an acute angle allows one to cut a smaller, finer feature w/ more depth, while a more obtuse angle allows one to cut a larger area w/ a single pass and while having a single bottom, as opposed to a ragged set of scallops. Recommended bit angle for a given text size:

  • <1" 45–60°
  • 1–2" 60°
  • 2–4" 60–90°
  • 4–6" 90°
  • 6–10" 90 to 120°
  • greater than 10" 120° or greater

I agree with Will. The drawing capabilities of CC are rudimentary. Up until a few weeks ago I used a stand-alone CAD program (DeltaCAD) to produce the drawings and CC for the CAM (which it does decently well). Just in the last few weeks have I upgraded to a better CAM program (Vectric Cut 2D) with SO3 post-processor. It does several things CC doesn’t do, like drilling operations, nesting, tabs and a better tool library.

Short story… CC will get you going and is very intuitive to use for what it does, but most people will outgrow it at some point in their CNC journey.

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