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Old 10-07-2010, 22:35
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Default CAD/CAM cutter tool paths in Corel Draw

I'm not a sign maker, but I carve out text and silhouettes in metal using a cnc milling machine. Same concept as routing out a wood sign on a cnc router table, just a much smaller scale.

I create the tool cutter paths for my cnc milling machine with the Corel Draw inside Offset Contour function. So, if I’m milling out a rectangle pocket, I create a series of inside contours which the rotary cutter will follow.

The problem with this approach to creating tool paths is that each inside contour is an "island" not connected to the others, and so the tool must rise when finished with one contour, move to the next contour, drop back down to cutting height, and continue cutting the new contour.

These unwanted up-down moves take up 20% of the total run time. More importantly, each time the cutter moves down (plunge cutting) the probability of the cutter breaking goes way up (my engraving cutter is only 0.012” in diameter, equivalent to about four human hairs).

CAD/CAM programs designed for this type of application can generate a spiral tool path within a closed polygon and the tool cuts out the pocket in one continuous path. I would save a lot of time if Corel Draw could generate this type of path. This would be ideal, but not something I would expect a macro to be able to perform.

Another idea is to have a macro that draws connector lines between the inside contours (islands) and the outer path. If a macro could produce those kinds of lines and make the entire group a single polygon, the cutter could remain engaged in the work and save time while also reducing broken cutters. The connector lines would cause a very small amount of redundant cutting, but that’s a minor disadvantage.

Does anyone have any ideas for producing continuous cutter paths using Corel Draw?
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