Thursday, November 24, 2011

Plasma Cutting with Inkscape, SheetCam, and Mach3

1. Start up Inkscape and under the File menu choose Document Properties. Change the default units and the document size units to Inches (in). Then close that window.

2. Make your drawing, the colors don't matter.

3. Select everything you've drawn and under the Path menu choose Object to Path.

4. Save your drawing as a Better DXF Output file.

5. Start up SheetCam. It should already be set up for plasma cutting, but check this by clicking on the Options menu and choosing Machine. The Machine type should be Jet Cutting and the Post Processor should be Mach 3 plasma pauses. Click OK.

6. Under the File menu choose Import drawing. Find your drawing (you may need to change the Files of type to DXF files). You can leave the default scaling as 1 (metric) on the next screen that comes up.

7. Under the Options menu select Job options and click the checkbox for Use drawing.

8. You should now have a preview of what your work will look like once it has been cut.

9. If for some reason you don't have any tools defined on the left side of the screen, under the Tools menu select New jet cutting tool and set the options as you see in the image below.

10. We're now set to create a new cutting operation. Under the Operation menu select Plasma cut. Decide whether you want an Inside Offset where the tool cuts on the insides of your lines, or an Outside Offset where it does the opposite.
Inside Offset
Outside Offset

11. I'd recommend a 0.2 inch lead in and lead out, as shown in the image below. Check with your teacher on what the feed rate should be for the material you're cutting and the torch setting.

12. Click the P button at the top left to run the post processor which outputs the Gcode for Mach 3. Save it as a .tap file. Put that .tap file on a USB drive if you're not sitting at the plasma controller computer.

13. On the plasma controller computer, start up Mach 3. Under the File menu, choose Load G-Code and find the .tap file that you had just created.

14. Line up the machine as demonstrated by your teacher, make sure everything is ready and safe, and start the cycle. You'll have to start it again each time it pauses. Remember to follow all of the proper safety procedures.


Plasma Cutters said...

Thanks for sharing this, it's been really helpful.

Anonymous said...

Thx, but it is nicer to have on app to export Gcode - no CAM.