• Travis Gillin

Routing, Software tools of the trade

One of the first questions my customers ask is "What software do I have to learn to run your machines?". This question is a bit tricky to answer in full over a short phone call or email. Our Xmotion machines (Both Rigid Series and Light Series) run a standard Gcode based motion control system. Its a computer based system that runs on top of a Real-Time Linux Kernel. By Utilizing the Linux platform we gain a highly stable system that's secure and very unlikely to be compromised by viruses or other malicious software that plagues Microsoft Windows. We've built our control software around a system that's been tried and trued in production environments. There's never forced updates that will keep you from doing your work! We claim you can draw your part, create your tool paths, and cut your parts all from one place on the control itself. Which is absolutely true, but there are a few drawbacks too that workflow. Because its a Linux based system, Cad software is a bit limited. Programs like Fusion 360 only run on Window and Mac...

I'm gonna outline a few different common workflows for routing that can be used to get to a finished part.

Workflow 1 - Design, Create Tool paths, and Cut right on the control interface

  • CAD Software - QCAD, Runs right on the control. Draw or edit DXF files.

  • CAM Software - Sheetcam, Runs right on the control. Import DXF, SVG, or other formats. Create 2.5D tool paths from drawings and generates Gcode to be run con the CNC Control.

  • CNC Control - Based on EMC2, is configured specifically to interface to our motion control cabinet to make the machine move how its supposed to.

Workflow 2 - Design your part away from the control, Create Tool paths, and Cut right on the control interface

  • CAD Software - Whatever you prefer. All that maters is that it can export to a DXF, SVG, or other file format that Sheetcam supports to import.

  • CAM Software - Sheetcam, Runs right on the control. Import DXF, SVG, or other formats. Creates tool paths from drawings and generates Gcode to be run con the CNC Control.

  • CNC Control - Based on EMC2, is configured specifically to interface to our motion control cabinet to make the machine move how its supposed to.

Workflow 3 - Design your part away from the control and Create Tool paths away from the control

  • CAD Software - Whatever you prefer. All that maters is that it can export to a DXF, SVG, or other file format that your preferred CAM software supports to import.

  • CAM Software - Whatever software you prefer. All that matters is that the CAM software supports customization of "Post Processors". Maybe you would prefer to use Fusion 360 for your cutting operations because you already use it for all your other CNC needs. The good news is that it's possible. You just have to make sure you have the proper post processor. It's true that our machines use a standard set of Gcode, the proper post processor is still needed because the torch touch-off routine needs to be called when starting the cut. We currently have post processors for Sheetcam and Fusion 360, other CAM post processors can be written if support for them is requested.

  • CNC Control - Based on EMC2, is configured specifically to interface to our motion control cabinet to make the machine move how its supposed to.

The most common workflow for routing, the one that I prefer personally, is Workflow 3. It you gives you the freedom to use the CAD software you prefer (I prefer Fusion 360)

Xmotion control's support USB thumb drive's or Hard Wired (Wifi is not a good idea around HF, RFI, and EMI that the cutting process emits. We recommend high-quality Twisted and Shielded CAT6 for a stable issue-free connection) Network file shares to get the drawing to the control. I prefer the network file share option because its quick and I don't have to keep track of tiny little thumb drive's all the time! As soon as I export the Gcode, its sitting on the control ready to be ran by the CNC Control!

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