View Full Version : Vector for 3-D

03-30-2001, 10:14 AM
I'm curious, how many are using Vector for full 3-D applications?

I use Vector daily to do chipcarving and tombstone 2 1/2-D work, but haven't really applied myself to learning Vector's 3-D skinning features. Now that I have several jobs that require that I get up to speed, I'm wondering how difficult a task I'm looking at.

Any wise words of advice or encouragement?

03-30-2001, 10:10 PM
I have been working with Bobcad and Vector for doing 3D skin projects. I wish I could combine the two programs, they both have their good and bad sides. The Documentation STINKS! I finally wrote a post for Bobcad that uses the shopbot arcs like vector does. It is much easier to get the roughing cuts in Bobcad, The finish cuts are about the same. Bobcad will give you some air cutting on the roughing passes, which you can get rid of in Vector.In my experience so far, when you get rid of the air cuts and connect the paths together, Vector will put in some lines that don't raise up when going back to start another circuit. These make a nasty gouge in your part. It's hard to find these when you program is over 30,000 lines long. By the way, the Shopbot handles these programs just fine. The only problem is the 10-12 hours of cutting.

03-31-2001, 05:15 PM
From what I've read, the latest version of Vector doesn't have the file size limitation problem that I think you're referring to. I had the same problem with a complex plaque that was nearly finished cutting when it abruptly returned to the origin point, drawing a beeline right through the blank. It was some nice cherry too. Ouch.

So, how are you compensating for your offsets in Bobcad, in Vector, or both? What I'm curious about is how well Vector handles offsets in 3-D. Is there a straight forward way of handling different bit profiles?

03-31-2001, 05:53 PM
The following information may be helpful in utilizing the Vector skin function.

1) Once the path is selected, it remains selected & the selection can be blanked.

2) Use shift select to then select the cross sections.

3) If you don't like the way that the skin is generated, you can undo, and repeat. Vector will go right back to the Skin dialog WITHOUT requiring reselection of the paths or crosssections. This allows you to easily check internal/external, and change your tool size/ stepovers, etc.

4) Use 3D-connect after the skin is generated to properly connect the toolpaths together.

5) Relocate the coordinate axis to the bottom of the geometry, and cut-paste it to Z=0, then Axis-Reset

6)Use Draw-Other Curves-Contour tooling to make multiple Z level passes, and to also make a light finish pass at the end.

7) Set the coordinate axis at a position just larger than your tool radius in Z, and use the Cut above Z to remove ALL air cuts. Following this clipping action IMMEDIATELY Draw-Line-Connect. You will NOT get any gouging cuts, and all air cuts will be removed. (You can also make these connecting lines rapids if you want to reduce cut time)

Last step reset the coordinate axis to Z=0 and Connect at Z.

Regarding offsets, the wrap cylinder, skin, and extrusion functions have direct input of tool size. Vector can make 3D offsets of planar geometry. If you draw an arc "standing up", Vector can properly offset it.

If you scan a part and create a series of points , parallel to the X or Y axis, spline them, and then you can apply an offset curve to compensate for a different tool size from your scanning probe. You can also create a toolpath for roughing and one for finishing.

04-02-2001, 11:29 AM
I did have some success this weekend generating some 3D forms and toolpaths, so I guess the worst of my learning curve is behind me.

I haven't found the contour tooling to be helpful yet, so I'm not sure I'm plugging in values correctly. If I'm generating a skin, and I reset the axis to the bottom of it, aren't I actually generating the final tool pass at it's lowest z values? Every time I try the contour tooling I get new paths that descend in z. I've had to do the copy and paste upward routine followed by the cut above z=0 to get the results I'm looking for.

Are there any plans to make the cut above z=0 a function that can have other values besides 0? It seems like it would be easier than moving the axis around.

04-02-2001, 01:51 PM
Think of the Contour Tooling as a Copy Down function. Draw your geometry with the deepest part at Z=0, or move it up to that spot, with a cut-paste. The original geometry is NOT part of the derived Contour-Tooling, and can be blanked after the Contour tooling function is completed.

The logic is the same as the original pocket function. Draw at Z=0, and the function creates multiple levels in minus Z direction, based on your total depth, and maximum cuts per pass specification.

There are no plans to add additional functions to the present Vector. Who knows what the next version will have. ;-) I will add your suggestion about the selectable Z-clipping height, to our list of requested features.

Another slick trick that I like to do, is to make a 3D tool path using the copy-paste with multiple copies, or with Snap. Draw an arc(standing up), break it into 10 segments, draw a point at the end of each one, then paste-with-snap another curve(at 90 degrees) from the clipboard. This will paste multiple copies at each selected point in 3D space. The appearance can be something like the ribs and vertebrae of an animal. Use Reverse every second, and draw line connect to create a complete toolpath. Contour Tooling for the multiple Z passes.

04-02-2001, 02:11 PM
Yes, I just 'saw' that when I tried contour tooling this last time and proceeded to smack myself on the side of the head & say, 'D'oh!'

Life just got a little easier. Whew.

I may be slow, but at least I'm not very bright!

04-13-2001, 09:20 PM
I'm having trouble getting Vector to skin. I've tried importing a rhino 3D dxf file. It appears as a mesh of polygons. The skin function is greyed when all are selected.

I've tried drawing simple surfaces such as a cone using single radius arcs, this seems to work ok but when I try to draw a cone using connected arcs to simulate half of an elipse, vector goes crazy when asked to skin and creates skin patterns all over the place.

11-19-2001, 08:59 PM
Is there a way to create roughing passes with the .sbp or .dxf file generated by the SB probe?
For example, if I set the probe steps to .03" xy, using the 1/16" probe, and probe in an object that is 1" deep (z), I can't cut it as 1/16" router bits only cut about 1/4" deep. MillWizard will generate roughing passes using larger bits, say 1/4", and a finishing pass for the 1/16" bit. However, MW requires 3D faces on the models and thus won't open a .dxf file backplotted from the .sbp file or .dxf point cloud from the probe.
I can use Contour Tooling in Vector, but the cutting paths are all still .03" apart making a larger bit pointless, and 3D cutting takes long enough as it is.
Does anyone know of a way in Vector, or any other program that doesn't require selling the farm to own, that roughing passes can be generated for larger diameter bits, like in MillWizard, using the polylines generated by the probe?
Hope this is clear. Thanks for any help.

11-19-2001, 10:14 PM
Depending on what you are scanning, Say it's a shape like a surfboard or a dish soap bottle, an airplane wing or propeller, type of swoopy, curvy surface, you can scan a few cross sections in the X and a few in the Y, combine the cross sections into a quilt square pattern and use the skin function in Vector. This could reduce your scanning time by about 95% and if it is this kind of surface, as opposed to a sharply changing raster kind of surface (like a computer keyboard, with keys), your resultant toolpath can be calculated for whatever cutter and stepover you want.

To eliminate every other cross section in a scan, unselect the cross sections and delete the ends where the scan changes direction(box select will just select entities that are completely within the box), replace them with connections twice as long(copy-paste with multiple copies and displacement along the Y if you scanned in thh X). If they were .030, replace them with .060's. Shift select the resulting toolpath for a roughing pass with contour tooling. If the end points have variation(they will), temporarily set the general accuracy up to .005-.010 and they should still be selectable. Reset your general accuracy and use trim and draw-line-connect to make sure that all the gaps are closed