CNCSimulator Pro

user guide

7.1. 3D Maker

3D Maker is a 3D CAM tool that helps you create 3D toolpaths from STL 3D models. STL files are a common file format in the 3D world and they can be created with most 3D modeling applications on the market.
It is important to understand that 3D Maker is not a full-blown 3D CAM system and it is not our intention to make it one. It is a practical and easy-to-use 3D tool that will create spiral or zigzag cutting patterns based on STL files.
The first thing you have to do is to load a workpiece into 3D Maker from the Files menu. The workpiece will be fetched from your workpieces defined in the Inventory browser.
Then select one or more 3D models by clicking the Add Model in the Files menu.
There is a Basic and an Advanced tab. Let us first look at the Basic one.
On this page, you just tell 3D Maker the quality you want and also the tool diameter and the type of tool (flat or ball).
You select the 3D model or models by clicking on them. Then you click on the Create toolpath button.
At the bottom of the window, you can see a progress bar letting you know that 3D Maker is working. Be prepared to wait for several minutes (depending on quality, the model complexity, and your computer speed) for the procedure to finish. 3D Maker has to perform millions of calculations in order to create toolpaths from 3D models.
When all the calculations are done, you will see the toolpaths on the model.
If you are happy with the result, you can exit 3D Maker and create a 3D layer in SimCam. You will find this option in the Files menu.
SimCam is not made to display 3D toolpaths so you will see something we call a "3D Blob". It is like a box with all the 3D segments inside. On the box you can see how many, and it can be post-processed to CNC code just like any other toolpaths.
Note that 3D Maker creates toolpaths that will result in thousands of CNC blocks. It can take a long time to simulate these. Also, if you plan to run the program in a real machine, make sure the CNC controller has enough memory to store the program. Remember that it is your responsibility to ensure the program has no errors that can damage the machine or hurt people.
This is the result after simulating the above toolpath.
If you do not want to wait for a normal simulation to finish, you can do a quick simulation that shows the toolpaths only (no workpiece) by selecting Fast Backplotting, in the Simulate menu. This function will more or less instantly plot many thousands of CNC blocks.
Let us briefly discuss the more advanced features of 3D Maker.
In the Files menu, you can load a workpiece onto the 3D scene.
A workpiece will make it easier for you to fit the 3D model inside so that the toolpaths will end up in the correct position.
In this picture, we have loaded the mask 3D model onto a predefined workpiece. As you can see, they do not quite match up in size and position.
We click on the gear button, to show the modification panel.
Here we have buttons to manipulate the model. We first type in 2 into the X, Y and Z fields and click on the Scale button. This will make the model twice the size.
Next, we type in X35, Y30, and Z0 and click on the Move button. This will move the scaled model to the correct position.
You can keep on moving, scaling and rotating until you have the model where you want it.
Note that when you have a workpiece loaded onto the scene, a workpiece will also be automatically defined in your resulting milling program.
Now we can select the Advanced tab and look at the Work area. Here you define the limiting box where the toolpath will be calculated. If you click on the Auto button, a box will automatically be generated for you.
You can then tweak the box to the size you want by changing the automatically calculated values, and clicking on the Update button. If you enter a value in the Padding field, this value will be added to all sides of the box.
Next, we find the Cutting properties.
Here you enter the desired tool diameter, the clearance (if the tool path is going to be used for roughing) and the maximum desired cutting depth.
In the Method box, we can define the cutting method we want to use.
3D Maker can run in a zig-zag, sweep or a spiral pattern. Also, type in the resolution here. The resolution is given in the number of steps per millimeter. Please note that the higher the value you use, the longer the process will take and the more segments will be produced. Don't go too high!
Finally, at the bottom of the Advanced tab, you find the Autosettings button. Click on it if you want help with calculating all the settings. You can always tweak them afterwards.
You can also load more than one model onto the scene, and models can be combined and overlap each other. Experiment and have fun!