Please read all of this tutorial before you try your hand at this. You can make all kinds of stuff with this technique. You have to engrave on the back of the Polycarbonate in order to be able to write on the front. The record clock is also done with the same technique.Let's get to it.
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Step 1: Materials Needed for the Build.
I am going to show you how to build a desk lamp or sign that you can write on. You have seen these at various places some have lights that shine with varying colors but all look nice. I will show you how using Fusion 360 and your CNC machine to build a beautiful light.
*Fusion 360 (Fusion is free to hobbyist not making more than 100K per year with this tool) https://www.autodesk.com/campaigns/fusion-360-for-... .
* Inkscape software (this is a free software) https://inkscape.org/release/inkscape-0.92.4/
*Polycarbonate sheet 1/2" x 7" x 4" The Polycarbonate will be smaller than the 1/2" (.500" and will be around .489") That is okay. This will work with thinner sheets however you will have to fill in the light strip as it is .500" in width. You may be able to find thinner lights I haven't tried.
*LED light strips (you can find these at many places on the internet for under 20 bucks). You can get colored ones I chose white for my project and think they look good. You can also have them change color if you want to spend the extra money and go with an arduino.
* 12 volt power supply. These are around and you can find them easily. If you keep them when you throw your old equipment out you should have them otherwise you can get them fairly inexpensive.
* Connector for the power supply to the lights. Mine has a cover so that the light can be removed from the power supply and the hole covered.
* Wooden Base. I used some Cherry that I had laying around. You can use any wood or even plastic that will work for you.
* For a cutter I used the Accupro 01787167 cutter. The price isn't bad and the cutter works better than any I have found. It has a 60 degree angle and a 1/4" shaft.
* Sandpaper of varying grits from 120 to 600.
* Finish (We used Polyurethane for this project).
Step 2: Making Your Picture a .svg File
You are going to need Inkscape or some other program such as Photoshop elements to change your image into a .svg. This is what we are going to bring into the Fusion 360 program for our cut file.
I did the Cherry blossom first. Go to the web and google "Cherry Blossom line drawing". Save this somewhere that you can easily find it. You are going to want to go to the web again and find another picture of the Konji for "Home" with the same technique.
Open Inkscape up and Left Mouse Click on the "File" button on the top ribbon. From the pull down choose "Open". From there choose the file that you just saved to your computer.
On the top ribbon choose "Path" and select the "Trace bitmap" command. From the screen that pops up you will want to click "Live Preview" and then click on your picture on the main screen. With the live preview on choose the "Edge detection" on. You will see that the picture changes dramatically and you will be able to cut lines from this. Left Mouse Click the "OK" button and then the "X" at the top of the pop up screen.
Now Left mouse click the "File" button and "Save" this file to somewhere you can find it. You will find a caution and just click "close" button and a place to save your file will appear. If this is where you want the file click okay or move it to where you can find it. You now have a .SVG of your picture.
You are going to want to do the same with the picture of your Kanji of "Home".
Step 3: Using Fusion to Draw the File
Start up Fusion 360. You will be presented with a top ribbon and a side panel that will have some files already to use. When you get a chance you should look at them as they are useful in learning how to use fusion. Another great source is some videos on youtube.com. I find that the ones from Lars Christensen some of the easiest to understand and you can always go back and forth if with the play buttons if you missed something. Lars also will answer questions if you have any.
You can use the top ribbon and choose the "Create" tab and look for your command or you can make sure that your cursor is in the white space and click the "S" key on the keyboard (my favorite way). If you do not see what you want you start to type the name of the command you wish to use. We want a "Center Rectangle". This will show up and if you move your cursor over the command you can then click on the up arrow which will put it into your keyboard shortcuts. Type the "S" key again and there it is.
You can always remove or add commands. To remove a command just left mouse click and hold and then move it out of the box.
With the center rectangle command chosen a "Noman" will come up (that is the "X" "Y" and "Z" coordinate system). Choose the plane that is in between the red and green lines. This will put your "Z" axis pointing right at you. If you click on the wrong button you can always go back and change things in the timeline at the bottom of the screen.
The radio buttons at the bottom of the screen will allow you to go back and forth and each command that you give it there will be a new button to appear. You can only use these when you are in the main program (after you "Finish Sketch".
Click on the dot in the middle of the screen and draw out your box. You will have a highlighted dimension show up. The sign I built is 7 inches wide and 4 inches in depth. Make the first box 7 and then tab to the second box and make it four and a half. Don't worry if you mess this up you can always change it by double clicking on the dimension you want to change.
Navigation: You can use the middle mouse button to make the file larger or smaller. Holding down the Shift key and middle mouse button as you move the mouse will pan the image for you. If want to get back to a "Front" view ( I suggest this as the best place for you now) Left mouse click on the "Front" in the cube at the top right of the screen.
Step 4: Adding the Cherry Blossom
Now that you have your 4.5 X 7 box lets bring in the Cherry Blossom. On the top ribbon left mouse click the "Insert" button. From there chose the "Insert SVG" you will be shown a pop up box with "Select SVG file" and a folder. Left mouse click the folder. Find where your .SVG file is located an choose it.
Make sure to leave the 1/2 inch at the bottom of the Polycarbonate as that is what will hold the part in the base at the end of the project.
You may have to move your drawing away from the menus by middle mouse clicking holding and moving the mouse. You will find that there are some things you can do with your .SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic). By left mouse clicking and holding on the small circle you can move it around the noman. You can make your image bigger or smaller by clicking on the half parenthesis and drawing it out. With the box you can move the whole image around.
In the "Insert SVG" box you can flip your images horizontally or vertically. What we are looking for here is to get the image in a spot that you find appealing to you. When you are comfortable you can click the "OK" button on the "Insert SVG" box.
After you get the placement of your Cherry Blossom you can do the same with the Konji.
Keep in mind that you will need some space for the polycarbonate to sit into the base. You do not want your artwork or your lettering to be hidden.
Step 5: Adding the Lettering
Time to add the "Home Sweet Home" to the project. With the button on the white part of the screen start typing "Text". You will be shown a screen and the program is waiting for what plane you want the text to be placed. Choose the plane with the Cherry blossom and the screen will change to show you that the program is looking for a place to put the text. Your cursor will show a small X to show you where you are. Move this to the spot that you want your text to start and Left Mouse Click. You will see a screen that says "Text" at the top. There is also the familiar round button that you can adjust the angle of your text with and the highlighted circle to be able to move it around.
Remember to keep some room at the bottom for the Polycarbonate to fit into the frame without the lettering being covered up.
In the right "TEXT" box you have the option to flip it horizontally and vertically and change the font. The fonts that you have available are the ones that are on your computer word processing program. You can always add different fonts if you want by looking for fonts in Google. I chose the Felix Titling font for my home sweet home. I changed the size of this to 0.70 to fill the space.
Left mouse click the "Finish Sketch" at the top right of your screen.
Now your sign is done. Make sure that you save your work at this time. This is easily done with the picture at the top left showing a disk. Or you can go through the "File" menu and choose save.
Step 6: Setting Up the Cut File
On the top left of your screen you will see "DESIGN" with a small arrow pointing down. Left mouse click the down arrow and choose "Manufacture". This will put you into a different part of the program.
When you manufacture something you need to be able to tell the program where your Noman (XYZ) is. Computers are not smart at all (programmers are) and do not understand where to place your image. We need to show it where the image is an to do this we use the noman.
Left mouse click on the "SETUP" button in the top ribbon. Choose "New setup". If you chose the plane that I told you to in the first step you will find that the noman is right in the middle of the image with "Box point" being highlighted. If you didn't pick the right noman you can choose orientation and using the "Z" and another plane fool around till you get this placed so that your Z is coming right at you.
Because we want to be able to write with a dry erase marker on the front of our sign we are going to flip the "Z" axis. Under the orientation button click the "Z" axis/plan and "X" axis. Then left mouse click the Flip "Z" axis.
Your image will look like the second image on this page.
Left mouse click the "OK" button to complete the set up.
Step 7: Let's Add the Cuts Now
Looking at the image with the "Z" axis point towards you click on the "2D" button drop down on the top ribbon. Left mouse click the "Trace" button. A popup screen will show up on the right side of your screen. On the pop up screen choose the Tool "Select" button. There are a bunch of tools there and you can always add what you need but that has to be for a different tutorial. Going down list find "Tutorial - Inch" and Left mouse click this. In this list you will find 1/2" 90 degree countersink. Choose this as your tool. Left mouse click the "OK" button.
Click on the "Geometry" button (number one above) and start by clicking the lettering and then the Konji and then the Cherry blossom parts. Keep clicking around until you get all of the parts selected. I didn't select the smallest parts of this project because they will not show up on the part after it is cut. Use your discretion. I had 132 curve selections for my project. When you are done choose the "OK" button on the screen.
The program will give you an estimated time for your project to complete.
Your screen will change and you will see a bunch of yellow lines appear. Where you are going to cut will turn blue. You can look at this by left mouse clicking on the left button on the "Actions" in the ribbon. I like to change the tool from "Holder" to "Flute" in the drop down.
You can always pan the image with the "Shift and Middle mouse" keys. Left mouse click on the radio button on the bottom of the screen and you will be shown how the file will cut.
If there are any red marks on the green strip below you may have a problem (most likely you do). I have found that if the program says that it has a problem it will. Look things over if you have this and you can left click on it to see what is causing the problem. Fix it before you turn your files to G- Code. Make sure that you click off on the "OK" button before you continue to the next step.
Step 8: Cut File to G-code
It is easy to turn your file into G-code. Left mouse click the middle button under "Actions" as shown above.
Your screen will show a popup again and this time you will be asked what you want your file to be built with. You only have to answer this once. I am using a CNC/USBNC as you can see. By left mouse clicking on the down arrow you should be able to find your machine in the multitudes of machines that they have posts for. You have the option to change the name of the program if you want at this time and you can change the output folder. This is not necessary as you can change this in the next step as well. Change the name to what you want this file called and then put it where you can find it. Some machines use a dongle and so you will have to save it on your dongle.
My machine uses a USB port and I can just plug it into the machine.
Step 9: Manufacture the Polycarbonate
Before you work on the Polycarbonate you should do a test run to make sure that your file looks like you want it to. For this I used a piece of plywood. Set your part up and make sure that it will not move. Move your machine to the Noman that you gave it in the previous steps and select the Zero "X" and "Y" axis. Touch the tool to the part and Zero the "Z" axis. I like to move my cutter above the part to make sure that it will not crash into the part to start with.
Load your program into your machine. Make sure that the power is on to the spindle and let it run. If it looks good move the cutter down and then try it again. This time you will see if anything is amiss with the depth of cut. It should be okay as we did not need to "Extrude" anything on this part and we are only doing a trace.
After you have successfully completed a test cut do this again on your polycarbonate. Be very careful on the depth of cut. 0.010" should be sufficient. You can always go over the project again if you have cut to little. Not as easy if you cut to deep.
I used a chop saw to cut this part out but you can also use your CNC by using the techniques I will explain in the next steps.
Step 10: Designing the Base.
We want to design a base for our project that needs to light up and show off our project. Get a piece of wood and measure it up to make sure that this will work. I know my sign is 7" long so I want to make this longer. I also know I want to chamfer the edges at a 45 degree angle and add the plug.
We are going to make the base 12" long and 3 3/4" wide. The board will be 3/4" deep. Start by opening a new window in your fusion program. This is done by clicking the + sign at the top ribbon. A new window will come up. On the top ribbon click the disk save button and call this "Base". You will see the name of go from untitled to Basev1.
This time we are going to click on the solid icon in the "Create" menu on the top bar. We are again presented with where we want to place our sketch. I will choose the plane between the green and red lines by left mouse clicking on it.
When I click the "Create" drop down again the menu has changed. If you goto rectangle and click there you will find the center rectgangle. That is what we want. Start in the center of the screen where all of the points come together. It is important that you select as your first point something that is locked down in the middle as if you don't your sketch is not locked down and can cause problems.
After you click the center draw it out and put your 12 in one side and then tab to the second side and put 3.75 in the box and hit the enter key. Your part should look like the one above. If you have the dimensions off just left mouse click on the dimension you would like to change and replace it with your number.
On your keyboard click the "E" button for extrude. Left mouse click on the box and then make the distance .75 and left mouse click the "OK" button You can now move your part around and see that it is a block instead of a sketch. This is done with the shift key and the middle mouse button held and moving the mouse. Again you can always get back by clicking on the cube to see the face you want.
Step 11: Adding Detail to the Base.f
Select the whitespace and click the "S" key on your keyboard. In the box type Chamfer and put this into your tool box by clicking on the arrow up. We would like a 0.25 chamfer around the edge of the part Using the shift key and panning as done before move the part so that you can see all of the sides you want to chamfer. Left mouse click on each of these. After all are highlighted insert the 0.25 in the box and hit your enter key. Your part should look like the one above.
Go back to the front view by clicking on the cube where it says FRONT. Now let's put a box in the middle of the part. We want this to be .75 x 7." Push the enter key after inserting these numbers. Again we are going to push the "E" (extrude) button on our keyboard. If the picture disappears make sure that the eyeball by the sketches is on. You will have to pan the drawing so that you can get a good angle at it or Fusion will try to choose the whole face. Once you get it where you want it move the cursor over the box you just drew. When it highlights left mouse click it. If you miss it you can click on the "X" by the Profile in the popup and start over. Once you get the box highlighted put in a distance of -.5. Then you can left mouse click the "OK" box.
The top of the part is showing as Front. Let's change this to Top. To do this right mouse button click on the cube as it is showing front and you will be given the opportunity to change this to top. Now we can work on the back of the part.
Step 12: Adding the Plug.
I purchased my electrical plugs from Amazon.com. They are OCR 5.5x2.1mm plugs. I have drawn the plug up and here is a link for it so that you can bring it into your drawing. https://a360.co/2PCRBp9 I did this to save you some time. Many times you can find parts that have been drawn by others in the Grabcad.com site. Another great place is just to use Fusion 360 with the "Insert" command. I did not find the part there nor did I find it on Grabcad.com so it I drew this and you can use it. First you have to download the file onto your computer. After this is done you can left mouse click on the "Upload" button on the far right of the screen. If you have minimized this you can make it big again by clicking on the multi tiered box in the far left corner. Find your file or dropping it into the box.
Now that it is in the left panel lets bring it into our drawing. Right click on the plug and use the "Insert into Current design" command. This will put your part into the drawing. At this point you have what is called a free move. You can move the part where ever you want. If you have accidentally misplaced where your part is going to be you can right click on the part and make sure that "Component" is selected. Choose the part off to the left in the browser.
Use the cube in the right corner to help you place this part. I have added two pictures to show you were mine was placed. Don't worry about the numbers just get it there. Left mouse click the "OK" button.
Now we are going to remove the materials that are impeding our plug in real life. Under the "Modify" command you will find a "Combine" command. Left mouse click this. The program will ask you if you want to "Capture Position" and you will say "Capture Position" by left mouse clicking that box.
The "Target body" is the one being cut and the "Tool bodies" are what is being cut out. Left mouse select the base. It will turn blue. Make sure that "Tool bodies" is selected and then click on the plug we just installed. In the "Operations" pull down check "Cut" as your operation. Make sure that the "Keep tools" is checked and then left mouse click the "OK" button.
It may not look like anything was done however; if you left mouse click on the eyeball by the plug you will find that a hole has been created. Leave the plug eyeball unchecked for a while.
Step 13: Channel for the Wires to Go.
We need to get some wires to the lights. To do this lets make a hole up the same size as the plug right into the slot we created on the base. Locate your plug hole and on the keyboard select "C" for circle. With the left mouse button choose the placement of the circle by selecting the side of the base. Then choose the middle center of the circle and draw this out .42". This is only for reference as we are going to drill this by hand. After you have your circle drawn you can "E" extrude it into the groove we built for the Polycarbonate to sit in. Left mouse click the back side of the slot you created and the extrusion will be complete.
When we build this we are going to put some wires onto the plug and weave them through the hole and add them to our lights. Adafruit is a great place to look for electrical things https://www.adafruit.com/product/887?length=1 The link is for the lights. You can look other places and find them all you have to make sure of is that they use a 12 volt power supply and don't need a controller. Or you can get a controller and make your lights different colors that is up to you.
Now we need to set this up so that we can manufacture it.
Step 14: Manufacturing the Base.
On the left top of the screen you will find "Design" change this to "Manufacture" in the drop down box. Your screen will change from the sketching commands to the manufacturing commands. In order to manufacture anything you must be able to tell the machine where the "Noman" is. This was explained in a previous step. Left mouse choose the "Setup" drop down "New Setup". If you have followed the directions your noman will be set correctly. If not you can adjust it by clicking the model orientation.
On your manufacturing machine your "X,Y and Z" axis will be set like your left hand pointing away from you. This is where your thumb is the "Z" plus axis an your index finger is the "Y" plus. This leaves your other fingers to point to the right or the "X" plus.
On this part I will put the "Noman" in the left top corner. We are going to rough this part out on the table saw and joiner so left click on the "Stock button and make sure that all offsets are set to "0". Now you can click the "OK" box.
From the "2D" drop down left mouse click the "Slot". Choose the tool "Select" tab and choose the 1/4" flat end mill. After this is selected choose the slot (make sure that you select the bottom of the slot). You may have to pan this around to get to the bottom but this is what we want to select. To be on the safe side go to the "Passes" tab and select "Multiple Depths". Left Mouse click the "OK" button. You can always look at your project in a different perspective. The image above was shown as a "Wireframe". If you want to see your image as a "Wireframe" choose the "Display settings" button and choose how you want to see your image. The wireframe give you a way to look through your part. You can now left mouse click on the "Simulate" button in the top ribbon under "Actions".
Now like you did on the Polycarbonate part you can choose the "G1G2" command in the actions and save it to your desired place or dongle.
To manufacture this set up your noman and cut above the part for a test. After your test is in the correct spot take the cutter to the top and let it rip.
After the part is routed you are going to have to use a chisel to cut the ends of the slots. you could also round over the Polycarbonate if you desired to do this instead.
I used a router table to cut the chamfers on my part as this was the easiest to do with the equipment I have. You can use a router to chamfer the parts or you can also add this to your project. As you are using a different bit you will have to exclude this from the first cut by making sure that the cut you want is the only one showing the eyeball.
After this is done I took the board to the router table and chamfered it. I then drilled a
Step 15: Finish the Base and Doing the Wiring.
The base will have to have some finish on it. We tapped off the inside of the slot and then we used polyurethane to complete this. First water was put on the part and the part was then sanded after the grain was raised. When the part was dry we put the first coat of poly on it. We used a heat gun to speed the process up. If you use a heat gun don't get to close to the work or get it to hot. You want only to cure the polyurethane quickly so that you can add another coat. You do not want to peel the paint off.
While the part is drying we removed the paper from the polycarbonate. This was fairly easy as some dawn dishwashing liquid and water will make the job go quickly.
You can now cut the 3M LED lights to size. If you look at them they can only be cut every three lights. You need to figure out where to cut the LED and then use a pair of scissors to cut along the line. Plug the lights in and check for where the Positive and Negative voltages are with a DMM or tester. You will find that they will only work one way and that is with the negative voltage going to the "-" on the light strip. Solder these together with a short piece of wire for each pole. Test to make sure that you light strip will work. This has to be done with the lightstrip in the base as you will not be able to put it together later.
Now install the Polycarbonate to the base with the light strip under the poly. You can now plug it in and enjoy the warmth of the project.
You can also write on the front of this with a dry erase marker for things you want to convey.
Step 16: Other Things to Do With Fusion 360.
There are a lot of other things that are possible with this wonderful program. You can make drawings and also make pictures of your project, you can do assemblies and what I have shown you here is just to get you started. Look online for many youtube videos that will instruct you on how to design your projects and also how to Render them so that they look good before you build them. Your imagination is the only thing that is holding you back. Go out and make a project your own. As you can see by the sign I built above there is a lot that you can do with this trick.
To build a record clock you have to use the same cutter as above. Make sure that your depth of cut is barely touching the a backer. I used luane for this and it worked good. I also used super 77 to glue the record to the luane. After the cut you just need to take a putty knife and peel it off of the luane. I then used some material that I purchased from home depot to back it up. It was a styrofoam type of material about 1/8" thick. This can then be glued onto the styrofoam with the super 77.
This is an entry in the