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Illustrator to OPlasmaCam

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jlames
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Illustrator to OPlasmaCam

Postby jlames » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:46 pm

I am and absolute noob when it comes to CNC Plasma but certainly not to Adobe design tools which I've been with for 20+ years. In fact, I haven't even purchased a table yet but I'm trying to get a jump on understanding everything before writing the BIG check so I hope you can help me.

Using Illustrator, I'm able to import or create an image that includes Alpha or Alpha-numeric characters. I can then apply Live Trace to it, expand it and end up with the conventional outline tracing. In order to connect the dropouts letter centers to their respective bodies or the "holes" in letters like "a", "B", "g", etc., I was figuring I'd have to use a Pathfinder tool but it turns out that apparently I can simply go to "outline", select the "erasure" tool, stroke it through the body line of the letter and it bridges the letter creating four additional anchor points that I can then move around with the with the Direct Selection tool to make the gap as wide or as narrow and aesthetically pleasing as possible. I can then save it as a .dxf filoe for later use in whichever CNC machine I select. So, the question is, can welding and bridging for CNC in the design stage be that simple or am I missing something that is going to come back and bite me when I go to create the cut paths from the expoprted .dxf file in Torchmate or PlasmaCam cutting program? As I said, I'm deciding between two systems right now and after a couple of days of looking for the answers to this and other questions and not finding them and not having an actual program that creates the cut paths for a machine because I don't have the machine yet, I'm rather stuck.
bridge 2.jpg

bridge 1.jpg

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jlames
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Re: Illustrator to OPlasmaCam

Postby jlames » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:44 pm

OK, as I posted on another forum, I borrowed an ancient, pre-DesignEdge cutting program and imported the Illustrator .dxf file into it. I converted it to cut paths and then ran the Cut Preview on it. And, it did, in fact, create a pierce point and offset and then I watched as it ran through the entire picture in simulated cut mode so, I suppose it works. Does anyone have any insight on this; that is, would it really cut in this manner? I ask this only because I have 30 years of seeing programs "virtually" run flawlessly only to get it into the air and watch as it crashes and burns in the real world so if anyone has any experience with Illustrator-to-plasma and welding and bridging with and without Pathfinder, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

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Gamelord
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Re: Illustrator to OPlasmaCam

Postby Gamelord » Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:12 am

I use Torchmate software and your procedure is perfect and should work with zero problems. The only thing to keep in mind is the width of your cuts and your project. Depending on your torch, you are probably looking at a minimum of 1/8" clearance between your cuts (inside and outside). Closer than that and you may run into problems with the torch burning away your project because of the heat.

Not sure about other software, but with Torchmate, all you need to do when you are done with Adobe (or Corel) is to export your line drawing to DXF, then import it into your Torchamate software (torchmateCAD). From there you can size, rotate and scale your project. Once it is set the way you want, you can then create all your tool paths as needed. Once your toolpath is created (direction, cutting order, lead in's / lead out's, etc...) you delete the original object, leaving just the tool path, then save and then import it into your cutting program (table).

From there, cut and smile. :)
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jlames
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Re: Illustrator to OPlasmaCam

Postby jlames » Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:21 pm

Funny you should say that!!! It works like a champ. I saved a design I created in Illustrator to dxf and transferred it to a new Torchmate via thumb drive today and it worked great... except that I discovered that setting the Illustrator stroke width can help or hurt alot. Alot of what I cut fell out or melted because the design lines (stroke width in Illustrator) created cut paths that were too wide. Looking up alot of Jim Colt's past posts on kerf thickness, I discovered that a Hypertherm 45 kerf width is about .045". With the "points" that Illustrator deals in, each point equates to 1/72"... times 3 equals .045" so designing in Illustrator and using a stroke thickness of three points (3 pts) gives me a good idea of how far my design lines need apart to translate to cutable cutpaths. I hope that makes sense and helps perhaps some others out there who are Illustrator-literate. I know probably most everyone out there uses machine=specific CAD software but as I said, I'm very new to plasma and CNC so I can only try and contribute where I can. Thanks so much for your post. At my stage, every bit of "You got it right. Great!" or "You suck...That'll never work!!!" really helps.

whiskeymike
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Re: Illustrator to OPlasmaCam

Postby whiskeymike » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:59 am

Jlames, thanks, that was helpful. When you say that the stroke width helps/hurts, do you mean that it actually affects the cut? Or is it just a visual thing when editing and you placed the cuts too close together?

So an easy example... you draw two straight lines, one at 1pt, the other at 8pt. When you generate the cut file, is it cutting twice for the 8pt? One on each side?


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