I am trying to burn out metal with our new CNC plasma table. I have converted a raster stencil like image to a vector using Inkscape. I then try to open the .dxf in nesting software. My computer says cannot read splines. I am familiar with what splines are. How do I get my CNC to do what I want it to do?
From contributor K:
Splines are S shaped curves. You will probably have to replace all splines with arcs.
AutoCad allows you to convert a spline to a polyline too. Rhino does as well. I am almost certain that Vellum converts. These are all examples of programs that primarily create geometry. They use vectors - that is lines and arcs and surfaces and solids. Seems that you are starting with a raster file, right? Raster essentially means a collection of points with color and location assigned to them. Examples are bitmaps jpegs, GIF and TIFF. Cameras use raster images, and TVs use more complicated ones.
You can proceed in two ways easily. One is to convert your raster image directly to real vectors, that is don't get involved with splines. There are a hundred programs out there that will do that, possibly even Inkscape, but I have no experience with it. WinTopo will take say a jpeg and convert it to vectors with very little effort. There is a free version available which is pretty powerful and easy to use. Get the settings just right and it is pretty powerful too. The paid for version has even more bells and whistles and is pretty cheap. Again there are a lot of them out there. These programs recognize the borders between sets of point attributes, like light and dark and create vectors along these borders. You can adjust the sensitivity of recognition and well as the "fineness" or scale of the vectors created.
Another way is to use the vector file you have including splines, and as you say convert the splines to lines and arcs. AutoCad (free trial for one month is available), Alphacam, MasterCam, Rhino (a free trial version of this excellent program is also available). All of these have help menus to explain how to convert the splines to lines and arcs. In AutoCad 2010 for example, import the DXF, then _u SPLINEDIT then use the convert to Polyline option.
What software do you have at your fingertips besides Inkscape? I just looked over the Inkscape website and I bet you could avoid the splines altogether just with Inkscape.
After choosing a contour detection it then brings me to the vector conversion window. Here I know to shut off curve detection because this is like a spline correct? Iím not sure if itís my burn table or cam software that doesnít like these. At this vector conversion window I can produce a vector using lines and arcs instead of curves or splines. Please correct me if there is a difference between a curve and spline. After the vector is created I go to file, save vector file, then choose dxf. In this window I can save curves as lines, b-spline curves, or bezier curves.
What is the difference of the two curves? I can also choose to save lines as two point lines, polylines, or light weight poly lines. I understand what a poly line is but how about the other two? I imagine because I shut off the curves option when converting to a vector that save curves as (lines, b-spline curves, and bezier curves) has no affect when saving the dxf but I do think how I save the lines will change the finished product.
I can't tell you how your particular program uses the terms none, linear edge detection, non linear edge detection, and contour detection. Apart from context they may be used in different ways in different programs, experimentation may be best here. Incidentally, you can run programs in air and learn a lot, or with plasma you may have the ability to run a low power trace, leaving a faint mark without cutting anything. In either case these have to do with converting the raster to a vector and the way borders are recognized.
Yes, use lines and arcs. Most good cam packages utilize the splines or curves just fine, but really the post processor and controllers are set up for lines and arcs. When you output the geometry for use it should just be lines and arcs connected together into polylines.
Strictly speaking, for flat 2-D space (which is what we are talking about here) a line is defined by two points. It's just the shortest distance between them. An arc is a portion of a circle that is a point representing the center and a distance from that center. It is not a piece of an ellipse or a part of a French curve, but just the collection of points equidistant from the center of a circle or a portion thereof.
Splines, B-splines, bessier curves, etc, are all well defined mathematical constructs, but they are much more complex. They contain information that in principle cannot be easily conveyed to your controller. To utilize them for creating geometry is fine, even elegant at times, but before making shapes from them on a CNC you need to approximate them by representing them as a collection of lines and arcs connected into a polyline. This is not as bad as it sounds, because the accuracy to which you approximate the curve is arbitrary, and all you have to do is ask the computer to do it for you. In Alphacam there is a command that says literally "convert splines to lines/arcs." Lastly a line or polyline has no thickness or width in a purely mathematical sense. Your graphics program may interpret a "lineweight polyline" as just a polyline having width.
Comment from contributor C:
Convert your spline to a polyline using the pedit command. The pedit command will ask for your accuracy when it converts to a polyline. Once your spline is a polyline use the explode command to turn it to line and arcs. Normally the explode command is set to a system default of just line segments. You can change the default set to line and arcs by typing in ďplineconvertmodeĒ. It will then ask for a number 1 or 0. 1 will change the default to lines and arcs. 0 will make only line segments. Note: If the accuracy is too small when you convert to a polyline you will only get line segments.