Rotary cutter on shapeoko

Hi all!
I want to try cutting carbon fiber cloth and prepreg in a more automated way. Have you guys seen or thought of using a rotary cutter ( the ones used for fabric) on the shapeoko?

I’ve never cut directly on my Shapeoko, but I do cut templates from 1/8" polycarbonate for use with a rotary cutter.

You could try to use a rotary cutter like a drag knife to see how that works. You would need to figure a tool holder to keep the contact point of the rotary cutter just enough off the centerline of the rotation that fabric engagement would turn the cutter to roll in the correct direction. Depending on the geometries you need to cut it could work ok. Tight corners would likely be problematic. The typical automated equipment for this type of operation uses an active C axis to keep the cutter tangential to the cutting path. The passive rotation of a drag knife can lead to distorted corners or bunching of the fabric.

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Yeah, I’d definitely try to keep corners with an appropriate radius. I’ll dust off my shapeoko and give it a try!

There are some drag knife utilities that can modify G code to add lead in/out and extra geometry at corners based on the drag knife offset. V-carve has a widget, it works but is only half finished (in my opinion) as there is no way to set which side of the vector the extra motion is added. This can result in nicks in the workpiece. Ideally you’d be able to mark the workpiece and scrap to keep all extra motions in the waste. I’ve seen something similar offered by one of the drag knife companies but have not tried it.

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