Hello and welcome to another Other Machine Co. project tutorial! I'm Sam DeRose.
Engraving text is one of the most fun and versatile uses of the Othermill. You can engrave on metal, wood, and a whole array of other materials. Basically, if you can fit it onto the bed of the mill, you can write stuff on it! The possibilities are endless.
This tutorial will teach you the basics of engraving on an Othermill and open the doors to a world of writing messages on anything and everything.
- How to engrave and cut out FR-1 circuit boards using EAGLE PCB design software
- How to engrave and cut out solid copper sheets
We provide you with:
- Library of letter and number files created specifically for engraving copper (G-code)
- "Key Tag" template (G-code) for cutting 0.035" copper sheets ("outline.tap")
There are two techniques explained here: one uses EAGLE and an FR-1 circuit board, while the other uses Otherplan, the attached library of letter files, and 0.035"-thick copper, brass, or aluminum sheet.
Use the EAGLE method if you not only want to engrave but also want to cut out a custom shape around your text. If you're okay with a simple key-dongle shape but want it to be made from metal and have better-looking text, then use the second method using the G-code letter files.
If you're just getting started with the Othermill, you'll want to check out our Hello World tutorial first.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Method 1: EAGLE + PCB
- Computer with Otherplan and EAGLE installed
- Flat end mill, 1/32"
- Flat end mill, 1/64" (optional) for finer detail
- PCB blank, FR-1 double- or single-sided
- Tape, double-sided
Method 2: Otherplan + Copper/Brass/Aluminum
- Computer with Otherplan installed
- Engraving bit 80° tapper with a 0.005" tip
- Flat endmill, 1/32"
- Copper, brass, or aluminum sheet, 0.035" thick
- Tape, double-sided
Download from this step:
- Library of G-code files for each letter and number (GCODE_Letters.zip)
- G-code file for the outline of the key dongle (outline.tap)
Step 2: Method 1: EAGLE + PCB
1. Design Your Key Tag in EAGLE
- Open Eagle and create a new board file. Select the Draw Lines tool and make sure you're in the "1 Top"layer to draw your text and anything else you want engraved onto the board.
- Then select the "20 Dimension" layer and create the outline of your object. The Othermill will cut these lines all the way through the board.
- If you need any mounting holes, add them by clicking Draw > Holes in the menu bar.
- Save your file and head to Otherplan.
You can use either a double- or single-sided board but make sure to update Otherplan with whichever you choose.
2. Cut Your File in Otherplan
- Import the board file into Otherplan and select either a 1/32" or 1/64" end mill. Be sure to select the correct material in the Setup Material dialogue.
- Make sure to follow the standard procedure for changing bits, zeroing tools, and general safety. If everything looks right, go ahead and cut out your board using the Cut button!
Step 3: Method 2: Engraving Metal Sheets
1. Build Your Key Tag in Otherplan
- Open up Otherplan and import the letters and numbers you need for your message.
- When they import, they'll be stacked on top of each other at the origin. Use the "Edit Origin" button for each file to set the alignment and kerning of your message the way you want. You can also drag the letters around manually by clicking and dragging the origin of each letter while in the "Edit Origin" dialogue.
Note: You'll be using the 80° engraving bit with a 0.005" tip, so each line of your text will actually be ~0.01" thick. Keep this added thickness in mind when aligning your letter files.
- For the outline shape, you can either drop in the key tag template (outline.tap) or just engrave the text on the copper and cut out your own shape by hand.
2. Cut and Engrave Your Key Tag
- Once you're happy with your layout, set your material in Otherplan to be 0.035" thick and load up a copper, brass, or aluminum sheet onto the milling bed.
Note: The G-code files were optimized to cut copper, but the feeds and speeds that are set in the file are adequate for cutting and engraving brass and aluminum, too.
- Go through each file that you've imported and set the tool to an engraving bit for the letters and a 1/32" flat end mill for the outline file (if you're using it).
- Cut each of your letters by clicking the Cutbutton for each file.
- Then cut the outline if you're using it.
Step 4: Use Your New Key Tags!
I ended up making tags for my apartment keys, a friend's new car keys, and my dad's keys. You can also get creative and find other uses for the G-code letter files. I experimented with writing longer messages like the "Other Lab" text.
If you make your own tags, please share your creations by posting photos in the comments below! And as always, if you have any questions, shoot us an email at email@example.com. We're here to help!