Doing the right preparation for CNC production is absolutely crucial. Getting a CNC engraving or getting your product CNC cut can be costly, so you want to get it right first time. Working with engraving machines or mills can be a little confusing to start with. Things like getting the correct CNC drafting and the correct CAD files ready is crucial when it comes down to saving time. This article will give you some crucial tips to get the preparation done right the first time, so in the long run, save you on project time and cost.
First, for CNC drafting and CAD work, make sure your file is saved in the correct format, AND an alternative format. Some CNC software programs may like one format over the other. So giving your CNC technician the best file format will help with quality assurance, and you also provide an option if file number one fails or produces errors.
Second, ALWAYS double check your file. It is ALL about quality assurance and a clean file. 99 percent of problems come from a lack of quality assurance. Ask specifically what the CNC technician needs, and inquire what exactly they are after. CAD programs such as Solidworks or AutoCAD often have multiple layers, so make sure these layers are clean and free from any errors. Also, when you have saved out your final file, be sure to open it again and check to see if the file is 100 percent before giving it to your CNC engraver or feeding it through a CNC engraving machine. CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!
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Third, keep an open line on communication. This is a crucial step to ensuring you get what you want, so try your best to avoid any confusion. Often there are times when the manufacturer or CNC engraving machine company needs to get a hold of you to double check things. Keep up the communication right until the final product is finished; try to avoid getting lazy and just handing off your file for production, without keeping tabs on what is happening.
Fourth, send your CNC technician screen-shots or instruction files using a 2D file output, so your CNC technician can get an exact understanding on what you are after. It is hard to get an exact scale for things, so making sure the better both you and the technician understand the geometry, size and look, the better your final product is going to be. Having screen-shots and 2D instruction files are crucial for both your manufacturer at home and when you are dealing with outsourced manufacturers overseas.
To conclude, try and remember these helpful tips when producing and handing off your CAD file for CNC production. Just paying attention to a few details earlier will save a lot of headache down the road.