Up and Running with RhinoCAM
Illustration by Richard Downs

Up and Running with RhinoCAM

with Taylor Hokanson

Video: Toolpathing the bottom of a part

So, flipping over a part for flip mailing is So this is just purely organizational.

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54m 16s Appropriate for all May 28, 2014

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CNC milling, or computer numerical control milling, allows you to carve digital 3D models out of blocks of solid material like foam, wood, plastic, and metal. Using RhinoCAM, an add-on to Rhinoceros 3D, you can create your own models for desktop CNC milling machines, and build objects that are stronger than those created by additive means, including 3D printers.

In this short course, author Taylor Hokanson explores RhinoCAM, focusing on converting a 3D model from another graphics program to a "toolpath", or a set of instructions for a CNC mill to follow. From there, you can import the toolpath into the mill of your choice. Note, however, you should already be familiar with model generation in Rhino (a Windows-only program) before attempting this material. We recommend viewing Rhino 5 Essential Training to learn more.

This course was created by Taylor Hokanson. We're honored to host this training in our library.

Rhino RhinoCAM
Taylor Hokanson

Toolpathing the bottom of a part

So, flipping over a part for flip mailing is one of the more confusing things you'll do in the machine shed, so have no fear, I'm here to show you how to make this simple and to avoid mistakes. So, I've already got a pair of tool paths prepared from the top of this material. That's a horizontal reffing pass and a parallel finishing pass. So, I'll head to the program tab first and to keep things organized, pull up this little fellow here and create a MOp Set, or a machining operation set. So this is just purely organizational. I'll call this one Top, and I'll move these two in there.

Okay, now I also want to create layers for the elements in my model. So, let's make one for Top and one for Bottom as well. Currently, all this material rests on my default layer, so Ctrl+A selects it all. And I just want to take, well, you know what, let's do this, let's take this model and these rods. And we can group them together. Left click, then right click the Top layer, and Change Object Layer. And now, all the materials that I'm using for both sides. So, for example, this cutting plane and this bounding circle here, those will stay in the Default layer.

And I have one copy of my model and its bridges on top. Okay now, let's highlight that, click on Bottom, right click and then Copy Objects To Layer. And now, if I turn out my light bulb right here, I still see that material, but it's a secondary copy that exists on the Bottom layer. So, it's important that you maintain a copy of the object for every set of tool paths you want to do because every time you move a piece of geometry, say flipping it or otherwise changing its position, that will confuse tool paths that have come before.

It's a little bit confusing until you try it. So, I'm specifically working with this material on the bottom. I can also double click here so that I know that Bottom is my default layer if I create any new geometry. Now I'm going to pick the polyline tool. And this is a trick that I learned over a long period of time. I want to be flipping my material to get access to the bottom in such a way that I can remember how I did it, so I can match that operation on the table and in my program. So in this case I'll be flipping it around the y-axis. So I'll come down here to the front view because you'll see that while x and z are represented, y is not because that's pointing straight out of the screen.

Okay, so first I'll click my polyline here at zero zero. Then I know that my material is 2.5 inches thick, so if I type in 1.25, that takes me to the middle in y, left click, and here I'll type in 4, and Enter. And then left click and Enter. So that takes my point right here to the middle basically establishing the point where I'll be flipping this thing over. It just happens that my rod and my big circular shape are also perfectly centered, but that isn't always the case nor is it necessary as you ll see with these rods here.

They're not laid out in a symmetrical fashion, but it's going to turn out just fine as long as you follow the step. Now, click on my point object. Select Point as my O snap, and End as well. And I just want to be really clear about where that central access is located. Okay now, I can take this object, type in Rotate, come back down here into the front view, and with only my Point O snap on, select that center of the axis. I can have Ortho turned on if I like, which helps me flip this thing over exactly.

Left click and I'm done. Okay, so now I have that model flipped over. I'm remembering which axis I flipped it over on and I also know that it's exactly over the top of its cousin on the bottom side. This one can be really tricky when you're getting started out, but if you follow these steps, you'll always get it right. Okay, now for the second set of tool paths, I can copy and then paste this Top area, rename it Bottom. And then as I expand each of these folders, I can re-articulate the drive containment regions.

And they should be the same as before, but I can do this just for good measure. And also when I double-click on my stock and hit OK because that will return it to a a pre-virtualized state. So right now there's no apparent cuts in it. Okay, so I'll right click here on the Bottom folder and say Regenerate. And then I should be able to again right click right here and Simulate. Let's turn this tool pad as well. I guess we can leave the tool pads off. So again we're going to take the long way to, finish this off, so I'll be back in a second when we're done.

Okay, so there you go. Now we have a nice finished tool path on each side of our flip. One of the only downsides with this approach is you can't really model what the finished object will look like. So if this was our second cut, we would now have cut all the way through here and we should be able to see down through to the bed. But as long as you really careful and flip things correctly and export your tool path separately, you should be all set

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