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Drilling is almost ready

I’ve promised a drilling mode for a long time and I’m happy to say that it’s almost ready. Drilling is a feature that should be very easy compared to all of the other toolpath options in MeshCAM. From a technical point of view, it is- from a user interfaces point of view, it’s very difficult. Here are some of the problems that have held me up:

  • Holes should be found automatically if possible
  • STL files cannot define hole locations or diameters
  • STL files do not contain true circles that can be detected- they only contain triangles
  • If users have to enter hole locations manually, will they know the exact coordinates?
  • There are many projects that have a lot of holes in them. How should hole data be represented in a way that users can deal with it.

These problems have had me hung up for a long time now. In the past few weeks I’ve made enough progress that I am sure that I can deliver a good drilling command in MeshCAM. Hopefully it will be better than good- my goal is to make it the easiest drilling command in any CAM software available. (And I’ve spent a lot of time on Youtube to make sure I know where the competition stands)

It’s tempting to work in a vacuum until I have it ready for release but that has led to surprises on my part in the past. It turns out that users view things very differently than I do. Things that I expect to be self-evident turn out to be anything but.

I’m going to do things a little differently this time; I’m going to get the automatic hole detection working well and then release it as a beta. Know that when you look at it for the first time, it will be incomplete and that I have lots more to enable if the feedback shows that I’m going in the right direction.

If no big problems appear then I expect to have a beta in a week or so.

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