Stick Fonts for CAD/CAM Work

A conversation about finding simple fonts for use in part marking with CAD/CAM work. September 23, 2013

I have been running AlphaCam for years and it comes with three properly configured stick fonts. These are true single line fonts that can be converted to geometry within AlphaCam and when toolpathed result in a single stroke at the router for each line. This is great for quick and dirty scratching of text on an occasional part or template and much faster than full blown engraving. AlphaCam leaves this text in editable form until I choose to convert it to geometry. AutoCAD also contains stick fonts which work the same way and I can import these into AlphaCam perfectly and make use of these single stroke fonts for toolpathing. I cannot import the AlphaCam or AutoCAD fonts into a Windows XP font folder to use with other programs. The AlphaCam fonts have an AUF file extension and the AutoCAD fonts have an SHX file extension.

Recently I have been using Rhino a lot more for 3d modeling. I am truly impressed with Rhino for a whole variety of reasons. I would like editable text but cannot seem to find functionality within Rhino for this. More importantly though, all of the fonts I have tried from within Rhino are true type fonts from the Windows fonts folder and have overlapping lines, including a set of "Cam Bam Stick Fonts” I found online. These purported to be true stick fonts but actually contain overlapping geometries resulting in a double pass being taken over each letter when toolpathed. My understanding is that true type fonts are simply not compatible with a single line font approach.

To sum this up: Is there any such thing as a true type font that will result in a single pass when machined? Does anyone have an actual single line font that works with Rhino?

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From the original questioner:
When I scribe over them with a V bit they look fantastic, but the bit passes over each line twice. I think that is because a true type font is a closed border kind of by definition. Let's say I draw the same text in Rhino using the Mec soft font, ungroup it, and then explode the geometries. All of the lines are double. This means that when I import it into AlphaCam I need to at least use common line removal before toolpathing.

I tried this on a large nest with a lot of lettering and it took quite a while to remove all of the common lines. Leaving them in would take even longer for the machine to run over them twice. It is not a problem with AlphaCam's native fonts, but Rhino uses only the fonts from the Windows Font folder as far as I can tell.

I did find one solution. I didn't realize that there is a difference between Rhino's "text" command under the "solid" menu (which outputs geometry) and the "text box" command under the "dimension" menu (which outputs editable text). If I leave the text editable in Rhino on import into AlphaCam it stays editable and I can then change it to an AlphaCam native font which works fine.

From contributor S:
Another solution might be to use Grasshopper with Kangaroo's “Remove Duplicate Lines” component. This would let you simplify a large amount of text at one time before importing into Alphacam.

The simpler way would be to use Rhino. Go to: Edit/SelectObjects/DuplicateObjects. Delete the highlighted duplicates and you're good to go. It works with Cam Bam when I tried it just now. I tried the Mecsoft font and it seems to be putting out single line fonts straight into Rhino.

From the original questioner:
figured there would be a slick way to do that inside Rhino, thanks for the tip. It smokes the AlphaCam routine for time as well. I just arrayed the word text (lower case) in Cam Bam 1 in a 10 by 10 by 20 rectangular array and exploded it into 16000 double line curves. Rhino deleted the overlaps by the time I released the keystroke, it would have taken AlphaCam quite a while. I will try the experiment when I get to work to verify.

I ran the same array on my work computer in AlphaCam to delete duplicates. Thirty minutes after hitting start Alpha was still working on it. My work computer is a three year old workstation. My laptop is eight years old with half the RAM. Quite a difference in the algorithms for this stuff I would say.