Sunday 21 April 2019

How to make a Lithophane - episode 234

I've been planning to show how I make Lithophanes for a few years now but somehow never managed to get around to it. It is also a good opetunity to try out the Masso CNC controller i have had for a coupe of months now. I've been learning how to use it while it has been set up in my office but you are limited as to what you can learn without connecting it to a machine and actually use it. Theory only gets you so far. As it turns out I am very pleased with how it works and will be using it in future projects but don't worry, I will continue to use UCCNC and Mach3 as well.
Getting back to Lithophanes I think they are one of the most impressive projects you can make with minimal effort. It requires no real skill to create other than good judgement on what subject makes a good lithophane. Choice of the right material to cut the lithophane from is also important for my project as I will explain below.

Click to Watch 

I used Cast Acrylic and below is the label that came on the sheet for those who are interested. If you cannot find this particular product and have a choice of various white acrylic / perspex to chhose from then choose the one you cannot see whtough when you hold it up to the light. If the acrylic is translucent then it won't work. You are relying on the light stopping properties to give you black and when you get it thin enough you will be able to see light through it. I'm also told that Corrian is very good for Lithophanes though I have not see Corrian myself in New Zealand.

Choice of Cutters
Originally I started out with dremmel 2.3mm and 1.4mm cutters but they were delicate, high speed steel and not ideal. This was a time before I had ever heard ot tapered spiral cutters but I had some 30 degree carbide cutters with broken tips. I decided one day to give one ago and see what happened. As it turned out it cut really well so I have used them ever since. the tip is the weakest part so when the very end of the tip breaks off the larger tip that is left is stronger than the original and so long as it isn't too big you won't be able to tell the difference between it and a ball nosed cutter. That's my opinion anyway.

The following Ebay links are Affiliate links

30 Degree Engraving cutters.

For those who want to try out tapered Ballnose cutters check out the link below. 
They come in a  range of sizes.

The EZE-LAP stones I use the most is the red one which is the Fine 600 grit. I use it for Sharpening my Carbide Cutters though the Super Fine one can improve the edge as well. The set ranges from Coarse to Super Fine though if you do  a search for EZE LAP you will find other options but the format of this stone makes sharpening cutters the eaisest.

4 pack set of EZE-LAP Diamond stones

EZE LAP LF Fine 600 grit

This was the first Vectric software I purchased and have used it for many projects over the years. While Lithophanes can be done in Aspire, I recognize that many people cannot afford to purchase the software but PhotoVCarve will allow you get started with lithophanes. If you want to have ago try downloading the free trial version and follow along with the Tutorial they provide. I'm not 100% sure but I think you can carve the provided sample.

LithoPhane Keyring Drawings
Available in Aspire, VCarve and DXF format for those who want to make their own. Remembat that the lithophane needs to be 30mmx 40mm to fit properly.

Well that about wraps it up for this week
Until next time


Tuesday 16 April 2019

Mouding Toolpaths the easy way to do 3D - episide 232

The other day my mate Russ asked how to make a lid for a box he was building that was curved on top. Since he is using Aspire it would be a simple matter of modeling the lid as a 3d item and cut it out but what if he was using VCarve Pro instead? You can't model in 3d or can you?
Well no you can't, but there is a work around that work for both aspire and VCarve Pro that people forget about. I'm talking about Moulding toolpaths.
Intruduced with the upgrade of version 8.5 software the moulding toolpath allows you to make 3D like cuts withouth having to create a model. It only works with basic shapes but used properly it is very effective. In this case it is quick and simple to do. You just need to understand what you are trying to do.

Click to watch

Are you missing out on a free update?

If you are using Vectric software check out the update page and make sure you are running the lastest version of software that you are entitled too. If you are using version 8 VCarve Pro then you can update it to version 8.517 for free and not only get any software fixes that may be included but also on the case of version 8 you also get moulding toolpaths.

If your not sure what tthe difference betqween an update and and upgrade it then have a look here. 

I'm surprised by the number of people who don't take advantage of the free updates that  are available and so miss out on new features.

Short tutorial videos?

Are people interested in this style of tutorial video?  Let me know.
Quite often I am asked to help people and I have taken to making short personalized videos like this one to show how to do something. I usually don't make a file and sent it in the hope that people go away but would rather show how I did something and have them follow along and do it themself. It's the old saying.
Give a man a fish and he will feed his family for a day. 
Teach a man to fish and he will forever smell funny and probably never go home again.

Video Update

Thanks to you guys for your suggestions on how I could improve my making of the curve and using the moulding toolpath. I have created an update video that covers the improvement.

Click to watch

Until next time