View Full Version : CAM plug in

04-30-2015, 01:33 AM
What a shock, I just realized Autodesk had bought Delcam/Artcam. I bought a copy of Artcam not long ago to do some work on my CNCs at home. There isn't any direct integration between Artcam and any thing else from Autodesk that I could see. I have imported some stuff I was working on in Lightwave to Artcam, so life is good.

I looked around for CAM software that directly supported Lightwave and couldn't find any, but did come across a CAM python script that works as a plugin for Blender. Got me wondering what it would take to convert that over to Lightwave. Gets a bit complicated, but a quick look, it seems to scan z buffer data to figure out how deep to run the cutting tool in an XY grid pattern. I don't need another project, but my head keeps going back there. Any one else here play with something like that?

PS CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacturing. You import a 3D model into the software and it writes a program for a machine to carve out that object.

04-30-2015, 11:24 AM
Of course they did..

Anyhoo, where is the location of the script? and would need to locate the CAM file format. Can't hurt to take a look.


04-30-2015, 09:05 PM
Ya the location and info would have helped .

It generates a generic G-Code. The vast majority of CNC machines are controlled with a G-Code program. The cutting area in the machine is an X, Y, Z cube. Not a lot different from the world defined in lightwave. The G-Code just commands the cutting tool to move from location to location:

G00 X10.5 Y4.0 Z0
would rapid move the cutting to that location in 3D space.

G01 x5.6 Y3.4 F2.5
would move the cutting tool to that location at 2.5 inches per min (assuming you are in inch mode)

There are a bunch of G-Codes, but am guessing those 2 are used almost exclusively. Most cam programs use very few other G-Codes

05-01-2015, 04:25 AM
I used CamBam at work when I was setting up our little cnc milling machine and it support .3ds & .stl so it should work with lightwave. Cambam is free with some limits but if you don't do too big or complex things the free version should be enough.

05-01-2015, 06:21 PM
Tried CamBam. Didn't work for us. Can't remember exactly why just now. A lot of the CAM processors available only do 2.5D, which isn't acceptable. Some say they're doing 3D but don't work with actual models, only height maps, etc. BlenderCam has been great. Can run roughing passes, leaving a skin of arbitrary thickness, then runs finish passes; all in a CAM chain. On one job, where we have surfaces that flare out to horizontal on lower Z levels, the path becomes too stepped when using Waterline; which uses a Fixed Z-step. In a recent version, that I installed separately because I didn't want to mess up a working install, there is a new path type, Outline Fill, which generates paths in Fixed Stepover; incrementing outward by a set amount on each succeeding path. I set it to only start at a specific Z-height and it runs through those Z-stepped lower levels and smooths them out nicely. So, that operation had three paths in succession.

As a side benefit, it's forcing me to learn more of Blender's UI.