I've programmed CNC routers a long time. I have little to no errors and do it pretty efficiently. After reading and replying to the "BobCAD" thread, many questions surfaced. How do *you* do it? In simple 2-d programming I would make a drawing, pick a starting point, drop my cutter to the proper height, pick a direction and machine that chain of entities. Lift my cutter and continue cutting or end. (My cutting strategies are figured in advance). After the code is generated, I go back over the program to enter increase, decrease of feed speeds or stop checks for square corners and things like that. After reading other replies to some of the threads here, it seems as though many people are using some creative processing software. Is it then a matter of making your drawing and letting the software take over? I'm really curious about this.
First I would like to acknowledge your "G" code ability - as with any CAM software, this is valuable. I am new to CNC and I'm self taught or phone tech trained. The use of AlphaCam has made my learning curve easier, I'm sure. To answer your question, yes, it's that simple! Create a geometry, pick a tool, tool directions, set elevations, feeds, spindle speed, tool lead in-out, move rapids to where you want, etc. This takes about a minute. I could not imagine having to write the G-code for that. The new CAM packages are definitely a time saver. I say invest!
If it's a simple part, no odd radii, just routing and maybe a few holes, I would program it with my machine's software, Winner90. I do have some parametric programs set up that do standard run of the mill stuff, where I just plug in variables. Using this method would typically take me a couple minutes. If it requires more than that, I opt for option two.
Option two, draw the part in ACAD and run it through CADCode. Again I have an ACAD template set up, just draw the part using PLines, put holes wherever they need to be, send the DXF to CADCode, make code and go machine it. This process is also pretty simple and straightforward. Feed speeds, RPMS, layernames - I have all that set up in my ACAD template.
Standard cabinet parts, like I produce every day, cabinet info is entered into an Excel spreadsheet that generates all the sizes and geometry, and a CSV file is kicked out to CADCode, which then produces saw patterns, labels, and G-code.
As far as checking G-code or looking at the programs, I never mess with it.
It takes less than a minute to enter tool, direction, feed speed, etc. if I don't already have a template for that tool and material thickness. If I do have a template, then it takes literally a few seconds.
Comment from contributor A:
I program our CMS router using CMS's Wintools software. For 2D stuff, I just have to draw in the paths, holes, etc., assign them to a layer for each process, and then import them. The software automatically applies the right machining data to objects on each layer. Then I go in and check the start points, directions, feeds, etc. and make any changes. After generating the g code, I check it and make changes to the feed and rapid speeds to make the programs faster. For 3D stuff, like guitar necks, I draw the paths as a 3d polyline in Autocad 2000i and manually apply the machining data.
For our Weeke PTP, it's about the same process, but there is more manual data to enter. For simple parts, I just program them at the machine.