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2D / 2.5D Modifying toolpaths

Selecting toolpaths for modification:

  • To modify a toolpath you need to select it first - selected toolpaths change their color to red...
  • Just created toolpaths are automatically selected so you can modify them directly. But later you need to reselect them first using the "Select" function:
    • Left mouse button: Selects a single toolpath - anything selected before will be deselected...
    • Left mouse button + "Shift" key: Allows you to select multiple toolpaths...
    • Dragging mouse with pressed left button: Selects anything inside a rectangular area defined by the mouse movement...
    • Klicking into the void or "ESC" key: Deselects everything...
    • "Control" + "A" Selects everything...


Modifying toolpaths:


  • Name:
    • You can name the toolpath using the textbox at the top...
    • It will appear in the final CNC program and may help to distinguish overlapping toolpaths...
    • Apart from that it serves no important function...

     

  • Cutting depth:
    • Use this control to enter the desired cutting depth...
    • If everything is to be cut to the same depth you can leave it at "Ask later".
      This way Estlcam will just ask before creating the CNC program...
    • You can estimate the depth of a toolpath by its color (after deselecting it again):
      • Yellow toolpaths are set to "Ask later" and will be queried just before creating the CNC program...
      • Toolpaths with a set depth appear in green / blue shades with green as the lowest and blue as the largest depth...

     

  • Start depth:
    • If a toolpath is located at a lower level (e.g. at the bottom of an already cleared pocket) you can enter it here to save unnecessary passes:

      The example shows the preview of a 20mm deep cutout. At the left side start depth is set to 0 and at the right it is set to 10mm...
    • Note that cutting depth will still be measured from the parts top surface. Both left and right example are set to 20mm cutting depth - only start depth changed...

     

  • Offset:
    • With this control you can over- or undersize an object...
    • You can e.g. use it to compensate thickness tolerances for joining slots or create an oversized "roughing" pass with a subsequent "finishing" pass at nominal dimensions to improve surface quality and accuracy...

     

  • Machining order:
    • Estlcam determines the machining order in 3 steps:
      • First all toolpaths with positive numbers will be machined in strict order from the smallest to the largest...
      • Then all toolpath set to "Auto" follow - here Estlcam tries to find an useful order itself...
      • Finally all toolpaths with negative numbers will be machined - also in strict order from the smallest (most negative) to the largest...
    • For simple projects you usually don't need to care about the machining order - Estlcam calculates quite usable orders in most situations...
    • You may count e.g. 10, 20, 30 instead of 1, 2, 3 so you can later insert things in between if needed...
    • You may also use the same number more than once: if you count 1, 2, 2, 3 the toolpaths set to "2" will be machined after the toolpath set to "1" and before the toolpath set to "3" but which one of the "2s" comes first is up to Estlcam... So if you like to make sure some toolpaths are machined at the beginning but don't care about the exact order between them set them all to "1" and if you like to put them at the end set them all to "-1"...

     

  • Holding tabs:
    • Holding tabs interrupt the toolpath so the inner object stays connected to the surrounding material...
    • This function is frequently used to prevent things from falling out during machining. Loose parts cause trouble as they're often catched and damaged by the tool - sometimes they even jam and break the tool...
    • Activate the function and click where you like to interrupt the toolpath...
    • If you like to remove an existing tab just click at it again...
    • Tab length and height can be set using the "Tab length" and "Tab height" controls...
    • Try to set the tabs at locations where you can later remove the remains easily - straight or slightly outwards bent areas are most suitable...

     

  • Start point:
    • If you like to make sure the tool starts machining at a specific point along the toolpath you can use this function...
    • Activate the function and click where you like the tool to start...

     

  • Lead in:
    • The lead in function is quite simular to the one above but allows the tool to start anywhere - not just along the toolpath. You can use it e.g. to start at prefabricated drillholes or created covered slots...
    • You need to clock twice after activating the function:
      • 1st somewhere at the toolpath...
      • Then at the point where you like the tool to start...

     

  • Corner overcut:
    • It is impossible to cut sharp edges in the X/Y plane. All edges will inevitably rounded by the tools radius...
    • Due to this rectangular objects will not fit into rectangular slots of the same size...
    • This function cuts the edges further back and allows counterparts to be fitted nicely...
    • Activate the function, then click at all the edges you like to cut back...
    • To remove an already existing overcut just click at it again...

     

  • Pocket:
    • The pocket function removes any material inside a toolpath....
    • You can use it for parts and cutouts but it won't work with engravings...
    • Estlcam uses a linear pocketing strategy - you can set the angle with the "pocketing angle" control...

     

  • Island:
    • The island function is quite similar to a pocket but prevents internal objects from being removed...
    • First create all required parts and cutouts...
    • Then select only the outer toolpath and click the "Island" button...
    • The pocket with islands will be created automatically - however you can also manually remove or add toolpaths by clicking them...

     

Christian Knüll / Heidelbergerstr. 6 / 74746 Höpfingen / Deutschland / christian@estlcam.de