This is the Sixth in a series of Instructables on how to use CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) and CAM (Computer Aided Machining)
We are going to use Vcarve software and although its not free, it specifically designed for making signs, and is more "Art friendly" than prodesktop which is more for engineering projects.
Vcarve has a trial version, to play with but it may not let you generate a "G code" with out paying, which is ok as unless you own or have access to a CNC router or mill you wont need to generate a G code, you can just have a play with it and decide if you like it or not.

If you missed the other projects  in this series they are here are here

Digital Manufacturing - project one Key tag

Digital Manufacturing - project two desk name plate

Digital Manufacturing - project three 3D printed box

Digital Manufacturing - project four laser cut box

As computer tutorials don't translate to text very well, for this series of  instructables most of the info is in the photos. So click on the first photo and use the arrow keys on your key board to go to the next photo. The boxes in the photos show the location of the icons and have have text in them when you hover the mouse on them.

Step 1: Using Vcarve

If you have seen timber sign in shops and ebay, and though that price is a bit steep  I wish could make that,  well you can and here's how. The first thing you need to do is find and image that you would like to carve. I would recommend that fist time you use this program that you choose a simple line drawing or cartoon, as photographs can have some unexpected results. Also if the image is too small it can pixilate badly and cause issues, our robot friend is perfect for this demo, has he has a black line around the outside all his details.

Things to watch for.
  • The layer button can be confusing, take some time to understand how it works
  • Some images are just not suitable to carve
  • Make sure you choose the correct size material before you start.
  • There are lots of router bits and end mills  to choose from, make sure you select the right one.
  • There are also lots of machines to choose from, choose your CNC machine from the list
  • Vcarve is not a 3D program so you cant import STL files.
  • The material will have to be clamped to the machine, so allow an area for the clamps
did you do this at techshop or do you own a sign shop like me. if you own the shop i reccomend you get artcam its a much better program and you can import right from flexi sign <br>
<p>I don't think you can do better than Vectric Aspire, but it is a lot of money. </p>
I teach engineering at a high school, Thanks for the tip about art cam I will look into it
An cool man I'm an engineering student in high school
Ahh so they do a back packing version to take on the 'trail'? &quot;Vcarve has a trail version&quot; quote! :)
Thanks for pointing that out, i'm not very good at spotting my own typos

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