|How to Engrave using MiniRobo and SuperCam|
The purpose of this tutorial is to touch on the basics of how to prepare, setup and complete a simple engraving using SuperCam.
The MiniRobo with the Dremel Drill is the mechanical system that will be used.
| The bits used for engraving are unique and cannot be found on just any cutting tool shelf. They are custom made. We will be using three different size bits for the engraving. From left to right the sizes of the bits are; .060", .030" and .015". The engraving bits have a 1/8" shank and an overall length (AOL) of 1-1/2".|
What you will need to get started:Engraving bitsMaterial for engraving onTwo-sided tapePiece of paper
|Setting Up the Machine|
This section covers getting the machine setup with the engraving bit and the material in place.
With the Dremel tool off of the machine, the bit is inserted until approximately 1/8" fo the shank is still visible. We are starting with the .015" bit. Tighten to secure the bit. Place the Dremel drill into the bracket and hand tighten the two screws to secure.
| Engraving Material|
The material we are going to use is a piece of laminated plastic, 1-1/2" x 10". There is a thin layer of white on black. When engraving on this material the white side is the engraving surface, cutting to a depth that just goes into the black.
| Placing the Material|
We use two-sided tape to hold the material on the table. The two strips of tape are placed along each long edge of the material, extending past the edges for easier removal.
Place the material on the table. When properly placed, apply pressure to the material to secure it firmly to the table.
| Software Setup|
In this section we are going to locate the material in the graphics window, create text, select a font, set the values for the cut speed and the depth of cut.
To locate the material in the graphics window we will utilize the following: The "moveto" command, "jog" keys, "ortho" and "snap" modes will be used for locating the material. The drawing command, "line" to create an outline of the material in the graphics window.
To create the text, the "text" command will be used. To select the font, the "font" command is used.
The commands used are located in the side menu, the red area to the right of the graphics window.
To set the values for the cutting speeds and depth of cut, the "cut rate", "cut slew" and "z depth" setup commands will be used.
| Locating the Material|
Turning the "snap" mode 'ON' before the "moveto" command is used, will give measured distances between the points placed at the corners of the material.
"F9" toggles the snap mode on and off. "Snap" will be displayed above the graphics window in the blue area when 'on'. You can set the value for snap by entering "setsnap" on the command line, pressing 'enter' and then enter the desired value. We are using a 0.125" increment value.
To locate the material in the graphics window, use the "moveto" command to get the tool closer to one of the corners of the material. The 'jog' keys (left, right, up & down arrows on the keyboard) can also be used to line the tool up with this corner of the material.
Now is when the "ortho" mode needs to be turned 'ON'. 'F8' toggles the ortho mode on and off. "ORTHO" will be displayed above the graphics window in the blue area when 'on'. This will keep all movements of the tool and drawn lines straight on the x and y axes.
Select the "line" command and then select the starting location at the intersection of the tool cursor (at the corner found previously). The material we are using is 10" x 1.5", so by selecting a point that is 10" along the x axis for the end of the line will take us to the second corner. In the blue area above the graphics window the distance and angle of the line being drawn is displayed. At 10" the second corner is located. Select this point for the end of the line. The "line" command is still active waiting for another end point. The next corner is 1.5" in the y axis. The second line is drawn to this distance. Continue in the same manner and end the last line at the starting point. End the 'line' command. The material is now located in the graphics window.
| Creating Text|
There are three different commands for creating text; "text" mode "textfit" before the "textctr".
The "text" will create the text from a selected starting point and a given heightl After selecting this command, the command line will prompt for the 'start point' and the 'height'. The coordinates for the 'start point' and the 'height' can be entered on the command line or selected with the mouse.
The "textfit" command will create the text to fit in a selected area. After selecting this command, the command line will prompt for the 'bottom left', 'top' and 'end' coordinates individually.
This command also has a reverse feature. Instead of selecting the 'bottom left' coordinate, select the 'bottom right' coordinate first.
All the coordinate values (x,y) can be entered on the command line or selected with the mouse.
The "textctr" command created the text from a selected center point. After selecting this command, the command line will prompt for the 'center', 'height' and 'ratio'.
The coordinates (x,y) for the center of the area can be entered on the command line or selected with the mouse. The height of the text has to be entered on the command line. A ratio of 1.0 is the normal width of the font selected. A ratio of .50 will cause the font to be squeezed to half its normal width and at a ratio of 2.0 it will be stretched out to twice the normal width.
In the following examples the "text" command is used. When selecting the "textfit" command from the side menu, the command line will prompt for the 'starting point' of the text. You can enter a coordinate (x,y) on the command line or simply select a point with the mouse. The command line will now prompt for a 'height' of the text (we entered .125"). The previous value used will be displayed. This coordinate can be entered or selected by the mouse. The command line will now prompt for the text to be created. Type in the text desired and press 'enter'. The font style displayed will be the last font that was selected.
NOTE: When using letters that usually fall below the line of writing, such as a lower case 'g', the distance it falls below the line has to be considered. This consideration has to be taken when using the "textctr" command also.
| Selecting the Font|
SuperCam has 18 different fonts to choose from. The "font" command can be found in the side menu.
When selecting the "font" command, a window will be displayed with the available fonts. We have selected the font 'Romanc'. To view the different fonts, have text in the graphics window and select a font. Select the 'OK' button and the text will display the font. Depending on what "text" command was used and the values entered for the text, the look of the font will vary.
| Cutting Speeds &Depths|
The "cut rate", "cut slew" and "z depth" values need to be considered here. These commands are found under the 'SETUP' pull-down menu.
Select the "cut rate" command and enter '.1' in/sec value on the command line and press 'enter'.
Select the "cut slew" command and enter '.2' in/sec value on the command line and press 'enter'.
NOTE: It is recommended that the cut rate value to be on half (1/2) of the cut slew value.
Select the "z depth" command and enter '.1' (10 thousandths of an inch) value on the command line and press 'enter'. The "z depth" value depends on the thickness of the material you need to cut through and the size of the cutting bit. This procedure calls for the value given for the depth of cut.
| Setting the Surface|
The "setsurf" command, the "up" command and a piece of paper are used to set the surface of the material.
Select the "setsurf" command from the side menu. The 'left' and 'right'.mouse keys are used to lower and raise the tool respectively. By clicking the 'left' mouse key repeatedly, the tool will jog towards the material. Holding down the 'left' mouse key will move the tool at a continuous and fast rate. The 'right' mouse key will raise the tool in the same manner.
NOTE: Care must be taken that the tool does not plunge into the material.
Place a piece of paper between the material and the tip of the bit. Move the paper slightly back and forth continuously when the tip of the engraving bit is close. When the tip of the bit is close enough that it just catches the paper between the tip and the material, surface has been reached. Press the 'enter' key to set the 'z' coordinate value of the surface. Select the 'up' command from the side menu, the tool will go to the 'up' position.
|Engraving the Text|
There are three different ways to plot (select) what is to be cut. The "plotbuff" command will select the entire graphics window. The "plotchar" command will allow the selection of only one individual character within a group. The "plotitem" command allows the selection of one to however many groups of items wanted for the particular cut. These commands are all located in the side menu.
NOTE: If at any time the mechanism needs to be stopped, press the 'ESC' key. A window will be displayed where values can be changed then cutting can be resumed, reset or canceled. The depths of cut cannot be changed from this window.
"Turn on the cutting tool"
Select the "plotitem" from the side menu, then the text to be engraved. Selection can be anywhere on the text which will highlight 'red' when selected.
The command line will prompt, 'Select Item <next/end>:'. If more text or objects were needed, you would select the 'left' mouse button then make an additional selection. Here only one group of text is wanted, so the 'right' mouse button is clicked to end the selection process.
The command line will prompt, 'PLOT OK <N:Y>?'. Click the 'right' mouse button to continue. The command line will then prompt, 'Yes - Cut to Depth 0.010000 - No to Repeat Depth <Y:N>'. Click the 'right' mouse button and the tool will start the engraving process.
Selecting the 'left' mouse button is for incremental cuts when the final depth is too deep for just one pass. The command line will prompt for a value for the incremental depth. The command line will then prompt if a Pecking Drill Cycle is wanted. If 'N' is selected, the first incremental cut will complete an entire pass before going to the next incremental depth. If 'Y' is selected the first line segment will be cut in increments to the final depth before going on to the next line segment.
The pictures show the tool engraving then the results of the first engraving with the .015" engraving bit cutting to a depth of .01" and a text height of 1/4"
|The first picture the .030" engraving bit was used with a z depth of .012" and a text height of 1/2". The next picture the .060" engraving bit was used with a z depth of .018" and a text height of 1".|
| After creating all the text for engraving the graphics display window is shown along with a picture of the completed engraving on the material.|| The cutting size of the engraving bit to be used will vary depending on the font, size of the font and the results wanted.|
The .060" bit was used for the largest size text. The .030" bit for the next size and the .015" bit for the smallest text. Getting the preferred cut may take time experimenting with the different combinations of fonts, text commands, text sizes and cutting bits.
Home Page at http://www.super-tech.com