MeshCAM Day 3 - 2D Machining

(NOTE: This tutorial is for MeshCAM V9, if you’re looking for V8, click here )

MeshCAM has become increasingly popular for plain 2D machining. Normally, this is not the recomended application for a 3D CAM program but MeshCAM has a number of features to make this very easy.

We’re going to cut and iPhone stand from a 2D DXF file. If you choose to follow along, you can download the DXF file here

1. Load the File

Loading a 2D file in MeshCAM is slightly different from a 3D file as you’ve probably done up to now.

When loading a DXF file, MeshCAM must be told what thickness to use since DXF files do not contain this information

You can now use the mouse to move the 3D view and inspect the file.

2. Modify the Stock

By default, MeshCAM sets the stock dimensions to the exact dimensions of the geometry and will keep the center of the tool within that boundary. In this case, we need to enlarge the stock so MeshCAM has room to move the tool all the way around the geometry.

In the 3D view, the white box representing the stock value will now enlarge by .125 inches on every side.

3. Create a Tool

MeshCAM needs to know what tool you plan on using to cut the geometry so it can properly calculate a toolpath.

4. Global Settings

The global settings part of the toolpath dialog defines a few items that affect every toolpath that is generated.

5. Create a Toolpath

From the top menu, click the "Toolpaths->Cutout" button.

Note that the speeds and feeds will automatically be set based on the machine and the material you have selected. These are just a starting point and you’re free to change them if you’d like.

6. Generate Toolpaths

You’ll now see your toolpath listed on the left pane of the app.

7. Preview the Toolpath

Once the toolpath apprears in the 3D window, you can shift the view to get a closer look at any area you want to see in more detail. The waterline toolpath is shown as a series of yellow lines, the pencil toolpaths are in purple.

8. Save the GCode

MeshCAM comes with a bunch of post processors that tell it how to format the gcode for your machine controller. When saving the file, it’s important to pick the right post processor for your machine. If you have any doubts, pick Basic-Gcode or Mach3. Both are fairly generic and work with most machines.