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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

I am new to this forum so thought i would just drop a line here to introduce myself.

My name is Jennifer, i am 54 years old, my day job is a business applications developer for a very large corporation. I live in Adelphi Maryland, just inside the District of Colombia beltway about three miles from the DC city limits with my beagle "Penelope".

I have recently begun working on inlay and stringed musical instrument making (lutherie). I have been a lapidary for many years and earlier in life worked as a cabinet maker in the yacht industry. so becomming a luthier who also inlays her creations with abalone and mother of peral, among other materials, seems like a natural progression.

about a month ago i acquired a CNC controlled router. it has three axis control and runs under a program called "Mach3". Mach3 takes something called "G-Code" which is developed by "CAD", computer aided drafting, programs.

the router is wonderful, can hold a pretty high accuracy, about .003" with good repeatability. Now it is time for me to purchase a CAD program so that i can begin transfering my inlay designs.

I have two questiuons:

First is: Does anyone out there know how to hold a small thin (.050" or so) piece of material like shell on the router table so I can cut it? people in the guitar industry create CNC inlay all the time, so there must be a way.

Second is: does anyone out there know anything about CAD software? i want to purchase a program that will let me "draw" the delicate curves that often go with inlay. most i have looked at are really great at straight lines and geometric shapes comon in industrial drafting, but are a little weak when it comes to generating complex curves. Any suggestions would be warmly welcomed.

Thanks for your assistance. It is nice that there is an active forum just for people who use routers.

Thanks,
Jen :moil:
 

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Hello Jen! Welcome to the forum! Very nice to have You here. I know nothing about CNC, or CAD programs. I wanted to thank You for the post introducing Yourself. I love to read an introduction like Yours. So nice to know about Your work and the nature of Your work. I wish You well with the program. I am sure that You will find the help You need. There is a place here dedicated more to the subject You need on the forum jump to the lower right of this page. and Thanks again for joining :)
 

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I am new to the forum as well, and found your post as part of posting my own introduction. Google's Sketchup software and the many free apps created for it will allow you to create all that you can reasonably expect to create using a router. It will export to the DXF format. DXF can be converted to G-Code using a product from a company called NCPlot.

Good luck.
 

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Inkscape is an open source vector drawing app that will probably do what you need. Windows and Linux versions as well as source code are available. Given your day job I suspect you won't be able to resist a peek at the source and perhaps even a little hacking:dirol:.

Inkscape outputs lots of file formats including dxf. ACE Converter is an open source Windows app that converts dxf to g-code.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thank you Allen and Glagwell for the input about CAD software. i will check out both NCPlot and Inkscape. so far i have been leaning towards V-Carve Pro. i really like the easy interface, but again like most of the CAD applications they are a little weak when it comes to drawing complicated curves.
 

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thank you all for your suggestions they are greately appreciated!

I downloaded Inkscape and it's G-Code addons. it seems to work OK but lacks some of the "Nifty" tools the commercial applications have. I have decided to just pop for the V-carve application. I really like the way it can preview a toolpath(s). You just select the material and voilla you get a 3-D rotatable image of what the finished product will look like. To an artist this type of visualization can be very important. Now if only they had a user definable materials library where i could upload images of the stuff i use to make my inlay.

I was able to get usable G-Code from Inkscape quite easily but wold still have to create two seperate tool paths for every piece of inlay I want to do. one for the inlay material and another for the recess my inlay goes into. With the V-Cave application, i just tell it what bit i am using and it will automagically compensate (offset) for a recess or an inlay piece. this greatly reduces my time spent in a CAD application, something a programmer loves. After all i spend my days programming, i do not want it to be dominating my hobbies.
 
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