View Full Version : Scanning parts into software?

04-22-2011, 12:20 PM
I just placed my long awaited order yesterday for a new BT48 - now that it's really happening I'm nervous about putting it to work:eek:

My question is: I have a large number of paper patterns that I have been using with my bandsaw and scrollsaw. I take a "master pattern", copy it, glue it to the part to be cut, and then cut the part out. I would like to produce these parts on my shopbot but am uncertain of how to import the paper plans that I have into software that the shopbot can use. Can I scan my paper plans into the software and then add pathing?

04-22-2011, 12:32 PM
PartWorks (that comes with the machine) has the ability to trace a bitmap to a vector. It may need a little cleanup but seems to work very good. I am just coming from where you are. I have scads of patterns and they all need conversion eventually. Over the years I have tried tracing in lots of software. I have never found anything as good as the PartWorks or any ov the Vectric applications.
If you need help with that, look here;


I think this is an excellent example for you and is the same as PartWorks.

ShopBot should be emailing you a link so you can download the software and practice before the machine arrives. I have about another week before I get mine.

04-22-2011, 12:46 PM

If you have a flatbed scanner or a printer with a scanner, you can scan and save them as a .jpg and then import that into PW for tracing with the trace tool or manually do a trace and node edit it to design the part for toolpathing. For line art, I find it easier to just do a manual trace and node edit to the desired shape than using the trace tool as it usually takes just as much clean up time depending on the intricacy of the design and the trace tool will trace the inside and outside of the line (even more cleanup). Keep in mind that this is with line art, black and white or colored .jpg's are better handled.

You'll want to double check the size to make sure that the finished design matches your original.

If the design is larger than the size of your scanner, you can break it up into sections and make several scans. You can then import each one and piece them together to make the whole design.

CorelDraw works well for scanning in images to do the same procedure also. In there you just use "File/Aquire image/Aquire if you already have a scanner installed and selected as the source.

If your image is repeatable, you can just trace 1/4 or 1/2 and then mirror it to make the whole.

I suppose you could also set up some kind of scanner head to scan the image right off the ShopBot table, but I've yet to see a good/affordable setup. Maybe someone else can chime in on that.


04-22-2011, 02:05 PM
For scanning the edges of 2d cutouts the shopbot probe works very well. If in addition to the paper pattern you have a part made and sanded to finished shape, you can quickly scan in the perimeter using the probe.

04-22-2011, 05:15 PM
Thanks all - I installed the software on my laptop today and will start importing some scans. Shopbot has a 4 week lead time right now - lots of time to work on the software learning curve:D

04-22-2011, 05:19 PM
I am only 3 weeks ahead of you, still waiting. I have a lot of this stuff figured out, especially Aspire. I am antsy. I want to start cutting.

04-25-2011, 10:35 AM
I'm on the fence regarding Aspire - I see many projects that have used Aspire that look amazing...but it sure is not cheap.

04-25-2011, 12:38 PM
Software that does what Aspire does is not "cheap" but then neither is a CNC machine! As far as value goes, there isn't a program out there that does what Aspire does that has a cost anywhere near as reasonable as well as the terriffic support. It opens up the possibilities for cash return on your investment so far beyond it's cost it isn't even worth thinking of going another route for the same results.

04-25-2011, 02:03 PM
After upgrading my electric service, installing a new dust collection system, purchasing a new computer, etc. etc. it's not the additional $1500 that concerns me as much as being able to utilize the capability of the software to it's fullest. The items in the software gallery sure make it look like a must have however:)

04-25-2011, 04:46 PM
You haven't said (and I didn't ask) what your short term goals with your machine are. If it is only to cut out shapes, get your feet wet in some easy 2.5 work by using area clear strategy but having all flat top parts, a bit of limited v-carve letters, and buying any 3-d carving work from Vector art 3-d, and or doing some cabinet work then the software you get with the SB will do all that. You can always get started and buy more sophisticated software later with profits!
You can take scroll patterns and scan them with a flatbed and import them into Partworks and then clean/trace them, recreate them by hand in Partworks, or use other software to do a trace of a scanned image. It's a bit of work but neither PW nor Aspire does that terrific anyway.
Aspires strength is allowing you to create your own 3-d work.

04-25-2011, 08:01 PM
I'm one of those, been there, done that guys. I can tell you going from a paper template to a cutable file is easy. If you were getting good results from your bandsaw and now you are going to a Bot for production reasons, you won't have any problems converting. The secret is to scan at a high resolution before bringing the image into the software. This higher resolution allows you to zoom into the image for your cleanup tasks. Also play aroung with the contrast tool within the import bitmap dialog box. You can do a lot of cleanup with the contrast slider. Scroll saw patterns take more work but are very doable. The more you do the easier it becomes and you will develop your own techniques for cleanup. Prepare to have some fun. You will be doing amazing things in a very short period of time. Enjoy! Russ