PDA

View Full Version : Can lightwave be used for engraving machines?



ilanvfs
10-22-2018, 04:40 PM
Hello everyone,

I am going to be using an engraving machine to engrave objects that are not flat. The company recommended I use a program called Vector - Aspire but upon downloading the trial I feel that lightwave is far more powerful.

Has anyone ever heard of lightwave being used in the engraving world? Is it possible to use it?
I much prefer to use lightwave over a new software.

Best,

Ilan

Ma3rk
10-22-2018, 06:46 PM
According to the Aspire site info:

Import 3D Mesh files created in other CAD software such as,

Rhino, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Silo, MOI, Blender, SketchUp etc.
STL, 3D DXF, OBJ, 3DS, VRML, 3DM, SKP file formats

If your engraving system undertands those, you should be OK as Lightwave can import/export to the first 4 of those formats natively. You're not exporting textures or such, just geometry?

roboman
10-22-2018, 07:15 PM
Lightwave is not a cam program, it's a modeling program, a rendering program and an animation program. Vector - Aspire and Artcam seem to be the big two. Actually, The last several years Artcam seems to have taken a major hit and Vector - Aspire is now used a lot more. The modeling in Vector isn't great, so you may want to do that else where any way. What Vector - Aspire or any other CAM program is to take 2D or 3D objects and convert them to G code, that the cnc uses to cut the part. Vector and Artcam will also, with a little bit of work, turn drawings or photos into G code, that the cnc can use to cut an object with. If you wish to do art and engraving, you probably will be more happy with one of the Vector versions then most others.

jasonwestmas
10-22-2018, 08:33 PM
LW isn't a 3d slicer either. Some engravings would require that I would think.

MonroePoteet
10-22-2018, 09:16 PM
As roboman says, Lightwave Modeler won't produce the G code necessary to run a standard CNC machine, such as what your engraving machine probably requires. Creating a "tool path" in G code from a 3D model or 2D artwork is the role of a "Computer Aided Manufacturing" (CAM) application. G code is a standardized set of ASCII text commands used to control the axis motors, rotary table, spindle motor, etc. on a CNC machine. Here's a G code reference:

https://www.cnccookbook.com/g-code-m-code-reference-list-cnc-mills/

You might look into other, cheaper CAM packages to see if you can build a pipeline from LW Modeler, exported as STL, DXF or other format, imported into the CAM package, converted to G code toolpath and finally operating the engraving machine. The real stumbling block may be your requirement to engrave "objects that are not flat" (trophies? mugs? machined parts?), which implies at LEAST 4-axis toolpath support (x,y,z and an x-axis rotary table to rotate the stock). More complex real-world objects to be engraved may require even 5-axis or higher support in the CAM package.

For example, you might take a look at MeshCAM from GRZ Software, which does support 4-axis job types, but no higher:

http://www.grzsoftware.com/

whose manual is here:

http://www.grzsoftware.com/manual/

and has "quick start" guides for bringing in STL and 2D DXF files. The MeshCAM Art product is supposed to have the ability to create toolpaths from bitmap type artwork (e.g. logos).

I haven't used MeshCAM, but it's the follow-on recommended CAM package for the CNC milling machine I have, and looks quite functional from my minimal experience.


Best of luck!
mTp

UnCommonGrafx
10-23-2018, 06:11 AM
http://blendercam.blogspot.com/p/download-and-installation.html

I have found this implementation pretty rock solid for my purposes. It's a pretty capable implementation of a cam tool with a simulator and feeds-n-speed calculator on board.

With LW, whole objects can be loaded, cam profile exported and chained together. I initially found it very exciting. Now, it's just reliable. hehe, no excitement in being rock solid.

erikals
10-24-2018, 06:51 PM
render greyscale in LightWave,
then use a converter to G code ?

https://www.google.com/search?=&q=grayscale+to+gcode

jwiede
10-25-2018, 02:52 PM
render greyscale in LightWave,
then use a converter to G code ?

https://www.google.com/search?=&q=grayscale+to+gcode

Converting to grayscale raster image and then to g-code will produce rather inefficient/inaccurate g-code. Depending on end use, it's much more efficient to keep it in "vector domain" throughout (STL, 3D DXF, etc) and convert directly from that to g-code (for 3D engraving, the g-code itself is effectively a 3D vector format).

For cases like CNC machining, 3D printing, etc. an app like Lightwave can be useful for producing the initial STL object definition for the end result, because what's being created is essentially a 3D vector object . It's arguable a NURBS 3D CSG modeler might still be more efficient versus modeling using polygons/SDS for that, but at least a poly/SDS modeler can offer potential value in that situation.

In contrast, for such specialized usage (3D engraving -- other than on stuff like cylindrical surfaces with "rotisserie mount", which turns into 2D engraving effectively), where you're using precision 3D vectors (and likely, curves) both to represent the surface definition on which the engraver is "writing", as well as what the engraver will actually "write", you really want something that has CAD-/CAM-level precision ability to express both the target surface, and also understands how to produce 3D g-code to deal with it, such as Vectric Aspire.

Lightwave seems much less useful in that second scenario, because you're not "creating" a 3D object from scratch, you're instead trying to define the 3D target object as precisely as possible, in order to ensure ideal relative work head placement to "write" on it. While NURBS CSG 3D programs like Rhino and FormZ, as well as actual CAD/CAM apps, understand the "surface boundary math" enough to generate g-code which can keep a work head positioned closely relative, poly-/SDS-based 3D pkgs aren't really as well-suited for such applications (due to how they define continuous surfaces solely as approximations of tessellated sections) and would still require a subsequent app that could use surface boundary tracking to generate the g-code needed to keep the engraver's work head positioned for engraving on an arbitrary 3D object's surface.

Put another way, if all the "surface boundary math" and g-code generation has to be done in a subsequent app like Vectric Aspire anyway, and you'd be able to produce a more accurate 3D surface definition of the target object in that app as well, then there really isn't much for Lightwave to do in that workflow. It's not that Lightwave couldn't be used, it's more that Lightwave doesn't really "add" much to that specific kind of workflow.

erikals
10-25-2018, 03:01 PM
thanks, very good info!

i'm willing to give the Greyscale to g-code a shot, but only because i'm doing this currently as a hobby.
( if i ever can complete that CNC 3018 )

very nice to know though, thanks again, info stored.  https://i.imgur.com/5O6mwtQ.png

jwiede
10-25-2018, 04:38 PM
The problem with using "grayscale to g-code" is similar to the problem of using bitmap-to-vector converters in 2D vector drawing apps: It essentially generates zillions of tiny vectors representing different pixel-by-pixel shading values, rather than a few vector definitions for the boundaries of the different shading regions. A really, really smart converter might coalesce similar-shading regions into boundary areas, but most out there rely on a more pixel-by-pixel brute force rasterization approach that generates huge volumes of tiny vector definitions.

Also, be aware that situations with large quantities of very short movement vectors are also harder w.r.t. "wear and tear" on vector-type motor drive mechanisms, due to the extreme "vibration effects" they can cause. Okay for use every now and then, but if it's going to be a very common scenario, you'll want to keep an eye on calibration of the motion axes, etc. and recalibrate them a lot more frequently.

djlithium
10-27-2018, 09:32 PM
We just had a conversation about this last week at Liberty3d with Chilton, myself and Ilan asking this.

The answer is actually yes. However the machine doing the work needs to have an SDK for a tools programmer (like Chilton, who has done this kind of work before btw) to talk to it through LightWave.
Sort of like writing a driver for it to exist in LW and then Virtual Studio Tool, but working in "reverse" controlling the unit.

How many people out there are doing this kind of work using LW to build stuff to be printed but would like to be able to etch using it?
I know Ilan's use case is pretty cool and serves a commercial purpose.

shrox
10-27-2018, 10:08 PM
All good to know.

erikals
10-28-2018, 04:28 AM
The answer is actually yes. However the machine doing the work needs to have an SDK for a tools programmer
(like Chilton, who has done this kind of work before btw) to talk to it through LightWave.
the number might be low, perhaps make a poll checking the status ?

sidenote, i'd like to see more Wavers playing with CNC/3Dprint
the more the the merrier

MonroePoteet
10-28-2018, 07:58 AM
Personally, I wouldn't ever control my CNC milling machine directly with Lightwave, but I'll always generate G-code and then transition to the "manufacturing" operation both physically and mentally. For me, operating the mill requires a degree of physical and mental awareness of what the machine is doing *right here right now*, or I end up breaking cutters, ruining the workpiece, or even endangering my eyes / fingers!

Operating the mill has Planning, Setup, Operation and Cleanup steps, none of which are done in the "design" software (CAD package or LW, for example), and ALL of them involving the safety of the machine and myself. These involve which tools to use, what type of work holding to use (e.g. vice or vices, my vacuum table, backing material if required, etc.), making SURE the stock is held firmly, loading cutters for each operation (I don't have a tool changer), calculating Feeds&Speeds for the cutter / material, zeroing the machine for each tool, checking the toolpath for obstacles, making sure the coolant system is working and aligned to the tool, keeping the ways lubricated, doing a test run while watching *carefully* with my finger on the ABORT key, actually doing the cutting (repeating several of these steps for each successive cutter), and then once the job is done, doing a full cleanup and inspection of the mill to ensure it's ready for the next job (or ready to be idle for weeks or months until the next job!).

So, for me, the *design* phase in the CAD package or LW has a very different set of skills, points of required attention and tooling expertice than actually doing the physical manufacturing on the CNC milling machine. Of course, an engraving job may be simpler than some of the jobs I try to do, but I still think it's advisable to treat the physical device with a great deal of respect and attention!

As always, just my opinion though!

mTp

UnCommonGrafx
10-30-2018, 06:31 AM
Good day,
I probably would support it if it support my board.
I have to say, though, this sounds like not the best of resources. If it were for pay, it would have to be better than what BlenderCam is offering for free. And for what I've been able to accomplish with it, what it is able to do beyond my present capabilities, I see the time developing something like this specifically to get Lightwave in on the conversation but unable to do the same as a waste of resources and time.

My board is the PlanetCNC mk3 board; I believe they have an sdk. At work, we have a lil Stepcraft 840 and a laser cutter/engraver 50watts.

It would be more interesting to be able to control a laser table. That, too, is a mult-step, mult-program path from LW. As well, just in 2D.

Nice mental exercise at such possibilities.
Robert




We just had a conversation about this last week at Liberty3d with Chilton, myself and Ilan asking this.

The answer is actually yes. However the machine doing the work needs to have an SDK for a tools programmer (like Chilton, who has done this kind of work before btw) to talk to it through LightWave.
Sort of like writing a driver for it to exist in LW and then Virtual Studio Tool, but working in "reverse" controlling the unit.

How many people out there are doing this kind of work using LW to build stuff to be printed but would like to be able to etch using it?
I know Ilan's use case is pretty cool and serves a commercial purpose.