Whether you are new to CNC milling or have been using a desktop CNC mill for some time, there’s always a way to make your workflow more reliable or efficient. Here are three simple and easy tricks you can use to simplify your workflow and make higher quality parts faster.
Fusion 360 is one of our favorite CAD/CAM apps, and it works great with the Othermill. Whether you’re learning CAD for the first time or you’re an experienced CAM operator, these resources will get you milling in no time.
This post provides an overview of how to design and prototype printed circuit boards on a desktop CNC mill. Most students do not have access to a CNC mill in their electrical engineering or electronics classes. In most classes, students make circuits using breadboards, which allows them to make connections by plugging wires and components into a grid. This method is great for very simple circuits, but it quickly becomes messy as circuits increase in complexity, to the point where it becomes very difficult to troubleshoot.
This guide shows you the basics of converting an STL file to a STEP file. STL files are a 3D mesh format mostly used by 3D printers, but in the world of engineering CAD and CAM, most software requires solid models. The most universal solid model format is STEP (.stp, .step). Ideally you'd begin with a solid model and avoid STLs entirely, but maybe you found the perfect object on Thingiverse or you used a 3D scanner, and there’s no reasonable way to begin with a solid model. Or maybe you're already doing solid modeling, but you need to incorporate an STL model into it. This guide shows you a file conversion process that has worked well for me.
In many Engineering Mechanics and Materials classes, “dog bone” tensile test specimens are required at some point, as part of determining the yield strength and ultimate tensile strength of various materials. For each of these materials, the test specimens are often milled one at a time in the university’s machine shop by a certified lab technician, until there are enough for the entire class. What if there were an easier way that didn’t require a machine shop or certifications, and could even be used as a teaching tool?
It’s hard to manufacture stuff repeatably. Unlike the software universe, where you can make exact copies, the physical universe isn’t uniform and nothing is created exactly the same way twice. Everything manufactured from physical materials falls on a spectrum, and it’s up to you to decide what part of the spectrum you’re willing to accept.
We’ve used Autodesk’s CAD/CAM application Fusion 360 extensively, and it’s one of the best ways to design for the Othermill. It has powerful solid/freeform modeling modes, rich file support, and integrated three-axis CAM functionality. It also works great on Mac OS and enables easy collaboration between project contributors. If you’re new to CAD and CAM, Fusion 360 is a great first step — and if you’re an experienced CAD/CAM user, it has many of the powerful features you’re used to.
Today, in a matter of hours, I went from never having done 3D CAD to having a physical object from an idea I had. I went through some tutorials and got a bit of nudging from the people on my team, but the only barriers standing between me and this wood cut were what I knew, not the quality of the tools involved.