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How to Prepare Files for CNC Metal Cutting Using SheetCam



Kevin is at his computer in his art studio, and opens the software called SheetCam. The program came with his DynaTorch CNC table, but he wasn't aware of it at first. It was on a thumb drive, and it's what tripped him up when he was first learning how to use the metal cutting table.

SheetCam allows you to import a drawing - a .DXF file, which Kevin showed how to make in the previous video - to import it to the plasma cutting table. This particular drawing is for a base plate for a sculpture. He tells the program, "Yes," please open the drawing I'm selecting.

Next the program asks what scale you want the drawing in ("inches") and where you want to position it on the metal. Kevin indicates he wants the piece cut out of the lower lefthand corner of his piece of metal.

Now the screen shows the baseplate, complete with 4 anchor bolt holes, in the lower lefthand corner of the screen, and on the steel. The outline of the base plate is shown in light red, but the bolt holes are shown in yellow.

Kevin wants to tell the program to cut the bolt holes first, then the outside of the base plate. He goes up to "Mode" in the software, and selects "Edit contours."

Next Kevin highlights one of the bolt holes, right clicks, and tells the program to "Move it to another layer." (Otherwise, the plasma cutter is going to be confused about which operation to do first.) He tells the software to "Move to layer", then chooses: "Open a new layer." He gives the new layer the name "holes."

The yellow bolt hole circle he'd selected now has turned to red. He then highlights the other three bolt hole circles, holding down "Control" between them, then right clicks and selects "Move to holes layer." Now they're all active, grouped together and on one layer.

Now Kevin is ready to tell the program let's get this converted to the right format and get to work out in the studio, to cut some metal!

Next he goes back up to the top menu and selects "Operations." He choses "Plasma cut." A new window pops up. It says "Jet cutting," which is the same as plasma cutting, and asked which contour method he wants. That lets you select whether you want the cut on the inside or outside of the line. Kevin wants it on the inside so the hole isn't too big.

Then the program asks which layer Kevin wants to cut first, which is "Holes." He selects "1/2 steel," and the rest is good. He selects "OK," and the cutting pattern appears on the screen.

The holes layer shows up on the lefthand side under Operations, so now Kevin adds the outside edge layer by choosing "Plasma cut" again, "Outside offset," and make it the "Visible line," and OK. Now both operations are showing on the left.

The last action is to choose the option "Post processor." This allows you to save the file, which is now a .TAP file. Hit "OK," and he's ready to put the file on a thumb drive to take to the computer connected to the CNC table and cut out the metal. That's next!

Kevin is ready to go back to work, but you might want to stick around another moment to hear Kevin Caron tickle the Voice's funny bone ....


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