One of the side effects of importing vectors from a separate CAD or graphics program is that you’re importing those vectors as drawn by the file’s creator. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can lead to side issues if some of the basics aren’t addressed. Among these basics are the numbers of points in the vectors and what type of vectors they are. [expand title=”Read More”]
As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, there are three types of vectors: arcs, curves, and lines. All vectors are based on one of these three types. It may or may not be readily apparent as to which type of vector the file’s creator used when they drew the vectors. Additionally, sometimes the export process within the creator’s program will change the type of vectors being exported to polylines, no matter what type of vector the creator used. This is done to reduce file size and eliminate software conflicts. In any case, we need to get in and check them.
After importing vectors, whether they’re from a DXF file or any other source, it’s usually a good idea to immediately join them, and then go into Node Editing Mode to see how many points make up these vectors. This will almost always result in the need to reduce the number of unnecessary points in these vectors.
Why is it a good idea to remove these extra points? There are several reasons: faster toolpath calculation times, fewer lines of g-code and smaller g-code files, smoother cuts on the final product, and more.
In the example file I used in this video, the program the vectors were drawn in converted all of the vectors to polylines. That resulted in turning the long curves to a series of straight lines – a huge series of straight lines. If these vectors were left as is, the VCarve software would have to calculate the toolpaths necessary to cut the project by calculating from each individual point to the next point. This will result in a huge number of calculations, bloated g-code files, and could lead to faceted curves rather than smooth curves.
It’s generally accepted that the smaller the number of points the software has to calculate, the better your finished project will turn out. By simply applying curves to the vectors, and having those curves replace the imported vectors, we can make a dramatic reduction in the number of points the software has to use to calculate our toolpaths. This can result in quicker calculating times, smaller g-code files, a smoother curved cut, and even shorter machining times.
How much shorter of a machining time? Well, there are lots of variables – it may only be a few seconds or minutes. But those seconds or minutes can add up if you’re cutting a large piece of material, or if you have several copies of the same project to cut. I don’t think anyone would argue that if you can improve your daily output from 5 per day to 6, and achieve a finer finish straight off the table in the process, it’s not worth taking the time to do. This is especially true if it only take a few seconds to do.
In the video linked below, I demonstrate one way to check for and eliminate unnecessary points from vectors imported from a DXF file, into VCarve Pro. The method I used is the same for VCarve, Aspire, and Cut 2D.