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Plotter Cutter Tests - On Members Workbenches. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sun Mar 24th, 2013 08:39 pm
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Angusog
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G'day Hastran

 that's a good first attempt, cutting your own designs with the plotter is great once the file is set up you can gut hundreds of exactly the same item in a fraction of the time doing it by hand and each one is exactly the same.

Chris

done my first attempt at cutting the scalescenes printout, quite pleased with the result even though it is out by about 2 mm, that's down to my setup.which i will have a go at resetting 'again' till I get it spot on.





sorry for the out of focus pic best I could do in the light I have at the moment

you can just see the white on the ends of the pit walls and the steps, offset shows up more on the pit light cutouts, off by just a smidgen. but still a huge leap forward.

settings were
force 100
cut 1
speed 10
Matte Photo Paper 220gsm

Regards




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 Posted: Mon Mar 25th, 2013 09:51 am
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert:
 
I did try a lower force and work up to 100 but I started at 50 and went 50,65, 80 and then got a result at 100. I might try 30 and see what happens. I'm going to try cutting it out of an A4 sized label so the scalescenes sheet will be self adhesive.
 
I tried several ways of getting blade depth including the folding the paper over but what I found was you can’t replicate the force the cutter uses. What cuts easily by hand didn’t cut on the machine.
 
I also found the bottom of the blade holder is slightly concave so the blade protrusion has to be more than you might think.
 
The problem is there are so many variables, which is good once you get it working, but I found you have to experiment and keep notes of what you’ve done otherwise it isn’t difficult to go around in circles.

I see what you mean about the inspection lights, did they line up exactly when you overlaid the two sheets? Don't forget you can resize the outline in MTC if that helps.
 
Hastran: That window looks good, let us know how you get on with the plastic sheet.


Regards


Chris
 

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 Posted: Mon Mar 25th, 2013 06:38 pm
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Angusog
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G'day Chris

know exactly what you mean by going round in circles.

but on blade protrusion, yes the bottom blade is concave, but your blade point should only cut your material not the mat, first couple of tries I had the same problem trying to estimate how much blade and found the folded in half method the easiest, but as you also say experiment each machine is slightly different.

is your machine new or second hand, I also had some tearing problems on copy paper, but only in one direction, not sure what was happening there. and it cut at 35.

regards



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 Posted: Mon Mar 25th, 2013 10:54 pm
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Simonmcp
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I'm following this with interest as I would love to get one of these machines.

I used to work in printing so know a little about paper - it all has a grain just like wood so perhaps that is why you are getting tearing in one direction only.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 26th, 2013 03:01 am
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Angusog
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I was thinking the along the same lines Simon, though i thought fibres, as in the lay of the fibres and may be as in wood you get a bit of tough grain, same with the fibres in paper, and would happen more so on budget papers, (though this is a guess).

Chris

I see what you mean about the inspection lights, did they line up exactly when you overlaid the two sheets? Don't forget you can resize the outline in MTC if that helps.
no my 2 printed sheets were offset by a small amount which i thought strange as bot were printed off the same page though one was a trace of that page, I lined up the corner of the registration marks and then lined up the laser with these, so i was thinking that it shouldn't have cut off like that.

but after trying for an hour to re-align my laser, i gave up it is out by a smidgen below the target, and no amount off tweaking could get it any closer , even large amounts wouldn't shift it, seems X @ 0.2 is the max as i tried 0.1 , 0.19,0.18 and got no difference in adjusting the cut arrow.

will try again by resetting factory defaults and adjusting again :)

regards



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 Posted: Tue Mar 26th, 2013 09:37 am
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert

 I tried a force of 30 and it went through some of the cuts but only about 25% of them and as Simon says it does seem to cut better in one direction. I even tried a multi cut at the same force and it was no better.
 
If you work it out the maximum force is 750 grms and the dial goes up to 160 so a setting of 30 would only be about 140 grms (about 5oz in old money) which isn’t very much and when I try to replicate that freehand it does only scratch the surface of the paper.
 
I’m going to experiment with different types of paper, I suspect there will be one that works much better. I’m worried that if the paper gets too heavy it won’t be so easy to bend it around the backing card so well. Having said that when I do these Scalescenes by hand I usually score the inside of the bend as I find it does fold a bit easier.
 
I also had to accept that I was never going to get the laser any closer. Mine was off by a smidgeon. You reach a point when trying to get closer gets you further away. at that point I gave up. When I laid the trace over the print I found a fairly consistent error so I adjusted the size of the trace in MTC by shrinking the outline with the selection handles and that seemed to get me much closer.
 
I think we are all going to have to accept a slight error because the printer and the cutter are never going to be exactly the same. I even suspect that rolling the paper onto the mat might even stretch it slightly.
 
Funnily enough the label paper cut quite well because you obviously don’t want that to go right through. It isn’t such easy stuff to use as ordinary paper because you can’t slide it around on the card like you can with paper and glue.
 
I bought the machine new in UK I and I was pleased with the price and service. Overall I'm delighted with it's performance, once you have it set up and the setting up will get quicker with time, then you can cut as many copies as you want in a fraction of the time it takes by hand. And all the copies will be exactly the same. Also you have the ability to cut anything you can draw which must be a boon to scratch building. I am working on a signal box at the moment and there just isn't anything available commercially that is like it, so I'm drawing it from photographs and hoping to cut it all out on the machine.


 Simon: If you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask; between us I’m sure Robert and I can help.


Regards

Chris

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 Posted: Tue Mar 26th, 2013 05:16 pm
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert

I have a question for you. Do you think you can change blades without resetting that PNC laser offset again?

Regards

Chris

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 Posted: Tue Mar 26th, 2013 05:58 pm
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Angusog
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Hey Chris

yes according to the manual, you only have to do it once for the blade holder, and only change it if you change the blade holder.

regards




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 Posted: Tue Mar 26th, 2013 08:25 pm
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hastran
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here some more test cuts for window frames.

The two parts of a medium sash window on the left and a large arched window from an engine shed. these are OO scale in 300gsm card. Not quite a accurate as a laser cut window frame but considerably cheaper.



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 Posted: Tue Mar 26th, 2013 10:02 pm
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Simonmcp
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for the offer of help.

The problem you are having lining things up may be down to the fact that all the printers I have ever used seem not to print out anything equally on the X and Y axis:twisted:. I find the prints are slightly longer than they are wider. Not a problem when the print includes the cutting guides as it does on Scalescenes buildings but I imagine it will be a nightmare if you are trying to line up a print with a cutter.

One way round it may be to print of the cutter guide and then rescan it to get it the same aspect ratio. This is assuming that the scanner doesn't change the aspect ratio of course:???:.

Good luck.

Simon

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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 07:29 am
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ddolfelin
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Brian, your windows look a bit wobbly to me - maybe it's the camera effect.



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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 08:55 am
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Brookwood
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Hi Simon:


I understand what you are saying about paper and printers, that makes a lot of sense.


I'm even using two different printers but what you can do is to change the shape of the cutting path in the software. You can either change the whole image or individual parts of that image. You can remove bits you don't want to cut, or just shift them around or change their shape. It is very flexible. Once you have that cutting path set up to match your print you just save it and use it every time you need it.


Hi Robert: 

I was thinking of having two blade holders, different colours to hold the different blades, just to speed up the blade changing. I'll have to experiment. I expect all the holders are the same but when we are talking in fractions of a millimetre it is probably worth checking.


I have noticed a difference whether you cut an SVG or trace a JPEG file. The SVG is much more precise in the corners. The pixel trace tends to round out the corners and you have to increase the resolution to get more node points, once again all very flexible but worth spending the time to get what you want.

Regards

Chris

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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 12:36 pm
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Simonmcp
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Hi Chris,

I suppose I should mention that I am a Graphic Designer, like John Wiffen, and that I have been using Drawing Software for over 25 years now.

Illustrator and most drawing programs have what they term 'Autotrace' or some similar name. As shown on the windows cut outs the trace is not much use as it puts curves where there should be straight lines and straight lines where there should be curves:twisted:.

If you draw your own lines you have complete control of how they are drawn.  This is a free program:- http://www.serif.com/free-graphic-design-software/  which would be good for producing your drawings. You can import the scan of the image you want to cut out and make it into a template layer and then trace over it manually. The program then gives you a choice of formats to output it in. Most of these programs are accurate to about 0.001mm.


Simon

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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 06:07 pm
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Angusog
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G'day Guys

I was thinking of having two blade holders, different colours to hold the different blades, just to speed up the blade changing. I'll have to experiment. I expect all the holders are the same but when we are talking in fractions of a millimetre it is probably worth checking.
Not sure this would work Chris, as I states in the Manual, it needs to be set for each blade holder, so you would need to reset it when you change the blade. fine if both blade holders are exactly the same, but experimenting is the only way to go.

Simonwrote You can import the scan of the image you want to cut out and make it into a template layer and then trace over it manually.
I have been doing this already Simon, as before i found the PDF files, could be imported, I was tracing a jpeg, and had to tweak the trace to try and get an outline shape rather then a shape of all the different shades in the picture. but again I have done it over the PDF trace now to as Chris said it can round off corners. using the basic shapes gallery and imputing these over the top of the trace should be able to get to an accuracy of 1/128".



as you can see in the trace above of a black and white print of a piece of track it has traced minute variations in the colour , I would go over these with a rectangle, as accurately as possible to get my cut.

regards



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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 06:14 pm
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Brookwood
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Hi Simon:

I appreciate what you are saying. I work with an Autocad program so all my drawings are in DWG or DXF and I can manually trace around any other drawing or photograph but then to get it into the Make the Cut software I have to convert it into SVG which I do through a little conversion program.

If I convert the same drawing to a TIFF, GIF, BMP or JPEG file I get curved lines and rounded corners and while you can adjust  that a certain amount in MTC you can't get rid of it completely.

It's all a big learning curve at the moment and I still have to get my head around thinking in terms of what the machine is going to cut rather than what I would like to draw.

Hi Robert:

I have found a major trick today. I suddenly realised the mat wasn't as sticky as it was, so I washed it and restickied (sod the spell checker) it and hey presto magic difference in the cutting without changing anything else.

Regards
Chris


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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 06:19 pm
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert:

Our posts crossed in the ether. I wonder if you can save the settings for each blade holder separately? It's another step in changing blades but a lot easier than starting from scratch each time. I'll have to investigate.

Regards

Chris 

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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 07:02 pm
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Angusog
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:) Chris

yes a sticky mat definitely helps in cutting thinner stock, tho i find it can be too sticky, the last week of cuts i haven't restickyed my mat at all, preferring to tape the 600gsm card down with masking tape along the edge. helps stop delaminating when getting it off the mat, but definitely  sticky when doing thinner stock.

dont think you can save the settings, but I would imagine the blade holders to be exactly the same from Zing, I think they are referring to different size (in diameter) holders, as this would shift the position in the carrier.

Regards




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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 09:26 am
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert:

That makes sense, I'll let you know how I get on.

Regards

Chris

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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 11:21 am
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Brookwood wrote: Hastran: That window looks good, let us know how you get on with the plastic sheet.


Regards


Chris
 



On the right is the large arched window cut out of 0.25mm sytrene sheet. I tried 0.5mm styrene sheet but cutter would cut all the way through it. I also think I've found a way of sharpening up the corners as you can see from the test piece on the left.



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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 03:16 pm
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Hello,




The one the left is much better if that can be used to make more complicated designs.




Regards




Stephen



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