Engraving font

Discussion in 'SolidWorks' started by Ewout, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. Ewout

    Ewout Guest

    After spending a complete evening searching for a solution to my
    problem, I have to ask this here.

    I'm looking for a way to create letters in Solidworks as single lines.
    This is for engraving purposes. It would probably be possible to do it
    inside the milling program, but I can't use that here, and I want to
    complete the job on this computer.

    So apparently everybody has a different name for it (here goes):
    Centerline font
    Stick fonts
    Single-line fonts
    Monotype fonts (?)
    Stroked fonts
    etc. etc. However, i CANNOT find anything useful for Solidworks. Very
    frustrating! I have Adobe Illustrator, so if anyone has a solution where
    I need another vector program (I already know what to do to import
    Illustrator in Solidworks.... Just make sure there are no curves with
    corners, I cut them all u manually).

    thanks in advance!
    Ewout, Sep 5, 2004
  2. Ewout

    MM Guest


    All true type fonts are filled (double line). SW only supports true type,
    ASSumeing that people will allways want to extrude them as features. It
    never occured to them that people would want to do simple center line
    engraving on tools and such.

    Another problem is that 3D curve data is only supported for IGES output.
    Personally, I don't use IGES anymore, STEP and Parasolid being much more
    accurate, and less problamatic. I suppose if you were using an integrated
    CAM program, like Camworks or Solidcam it would be usefull. I use Mastercam
    and It's just too easy to slap an engravable font on a surface to worry
    about it.

    I do have a really thin font that I've used occaisionally that works pretty
    good. You just progam half of it (open contour). If you size it right, and
    use the correct offset, it looks pretty good. It's on my work comp., so I
    can't post the name until Tuesday


    MM, Sep 5, 2004
  3. Ewout

    Ewout Guest

    Ok, I'm gonna be more specific, because it might clear a lot of things up.
    I want to make a mold for small chocolate letters, like scrabble tiles
    with the letters "lying" on top (I know these exist as candy you get for
    christmas). So it shouldn't be just text, I want it to be good looking
    aswell (I know the limits of CAM, but it could be better).

    At first I made a model in solidworks, using imported "Arial" outlines
    from Illustrator. Then I gave the letters the same radius as the tool,
    just resembling what it would look like after the milling. That gave me
    so many problems I decided I was gonna try a centerline-font.

    The CAM-program we use is called VX, fairly new to the market
    (www.vx.com for those interested). I *could* use the text option inside
    VX, but it's not pretty. It's just not made for good looking
    text/letters, just for, well, engraving :eek:). These letters are not made
    of curves, but polylines, very "angular" if you get what I mean.

    So, bottomline, I want to be able to control the shape of my letters,
    but not limit myself to ugly polyline letters. It's also very hard to
    position them properly inside VX (AND solidworks, I just *need* the
    align function in Illustrator). All in all, I not sure if I'm doing it
    the right way, using these 3 programs to get such an "easy" looking result.

    Ewout, Sep 6, 2004
  4. Ewout

    MM Guest


    I think I see what your trying to do. You want to use a "decorative" font,
    but when you try to write a contour toolpath, it comes out "faceted" ???

    True type font feature boundaries (emboss/deboss) are represented by NURBS
    splines inside SW. This is carried over to the translated out put (IGES,
    X_T, etc.)

    What mostt CAM systems do (by defualt) is linearize (make polylines) out of
    these features using G01 (line, point to point) moves. This results in a
    faceted (ugly) contour. Some very expensive controls can cut smooth NURBS,
    but it also requires special code from the CAM system.

    I'm not familiar with VX's CAM capabilities, so I'm going to tell you how I
    work around this in Mastercam, VX may have similar functions.

    The easiest is "arc fitting". When ever I program a 2D spline I'm presented
    with the option of filtering the toolpath, by a chordal tolerence that I
    choose, and having the system fit tangent arcs G02-G03 in place of the
    linear moves. Another way is to convert the NURBS geometry itself into a
    chain of tangent arcs (again to a chosen tolerance) and generate the tool
    path from the result. Both of these methods result in smooth paths.

    If VX doesn't have these features, you should at least be able to control
    the tolerance of the linear moves. Depending on the size of the font, you
    want to set the chordal error real small. Also, you want to make sure you
    have "in position check" turned off in the control. This is a G8 on Fadal,
    other controls use different codes. If this function is on, the machine will
    pause at every intersection.

    If the letters are not planar, you're stuck with point to point. 3 axis
    VMC's can't interpolate arcs that aren't orthagonal to the three primary

    If none of this is any help, send me the file. I'll convert the NURBS to
    arcs and send you an IGES wireframe.

    My email is "mark_mos at pacbell dot net"


    MM, Sep 6, 2004
  5. There are 2 approaches, each with its set of problems:

    1) import your text in a sketch as "line font" then fillet sharp
    angles and do many sweeps of your mill profile along the letters. I
    made an add-in to do this automatically, but it is not available
    anymore until I arrange this with my new employeer. The remaining
    problem is to make rounds at the ends of lines.

    2) If your profile is a V, it is easier to find a font that
    correecponds to a "thickened" line font : constant width and round
    caps. The best I found is "isocpeur" which comes with Adesk products
    (...) then extrude it with an angle. However, you usually can't do a
    perfect V groove this way because arcs in TrueType font are actually
    splines, and font designers didn't care too much about segment
    tangencies, so you might need to "Dissolve" the text and correct some
    parts of the letters contours manually. Here again, I made a macro
    that does all this automatically, which *might* be available again in
    a few weeks.

    Philippe Guglielmetti

    e-Systems, Switzerland
    Philippe Guglielmetti, Sep 6, 2004
  6. Ewout

    Ewout Guest

    First of all, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your (extensive!)
    help in this. I know my Solidworks pretty well, but I guess this is
    quite a different appraoch to the matter.

    The problem (I think) with VX is, that it is a modeller + CAM program in
    one. I tried to use the modeller, but it's just not advanced enough for
    me, hardly any options for fillets, lofts etc etc (the 'difficult'
    features, programming wise).
    So they put *all* of the 'modelling' functionality into the CAD part of
    the program. No problem usually, it's all within the same program and
    you can switch between the model interface and the cam interface very
    easily. But that means I can't insert any 'text paths' either. I *have*
    to do it inside the modeller, and then use that path as a 'profile cut',
    creating a tool path out of the paths I have. These paths are already
    faceted, and apparently there's no arc fitting function inside the
    program. Apart from that, the font is not that pretty either.

    The problem is not just smoothness, or just pretty letters, it's all
    combined. I tried creating a wild bezier curve inside illustrator,
    exporting it as dwg. I imported that in VX, and there was no faceting at
    all! But that wouldn't make the task much easier. What I think I'm gonna
    do is the following: painstakingly I will create a centerline version of
    every letter of a nice font (creating the appropriate curves by using
    circles as a reference), exporting those curves to dwg and then
    importing in vx.

    This has no longer anything to do with Solidworks itself. I just thought
    it would be possible to prepare everything in Solidworks, so that I
    wouldn't have to go into the modeller. Apparently this is not really
    possible, and I'll have to come up with a different solution. Ah, well.

    Thanks again for your help Marc, but I guess the problem is not with the
    milling program (toolpath tolerances are easily set inside VX), and
    neither with Solidworks, the solution probably lies in Illustrator, and
    hard curve-labour :eek:).

    If you (Marc) find this problem interesting, you can email me (just
    reverse my emailaddress, so that the first part would be "chocolade"),
    and I will keep you informed about the progress!

    Ewout, Sep 6, 2004
  7. Ewout

    MM Guest

    No prob.,,, You're welcome
    The last time I saw VX was about a year and a half ago. We spent most of the
    time looking at the things that SW had problems with, like applying tangent
    conditions to two adjacent surfaces. I wasn't very impressed with the CAM,
    or the out put quality of STEP or IGES.

    So,, I'm a bit confused. You can't model it "real world" in SW and import it
    for CAM ??

    SW creates very clean geometry. The translators are very good too. I only
    ask this because it's something I do all the time. I try to keep models, and
    assemblies, of tools representing the real world. The curve data should come
    into VX as true splines through IGES, STEP or Parasolid. Even if you create
    the curves in another program, you should be able to import them into SW to
    sweep the profiles. The boundary curves of the profiles (not a font) should
    import into VX cleanly for machining.

    I dunno,,, maybe I'm missing something, but it just seeems like you're doing
    this the hard way.


    MM, Sep 7, 2004
  8. Ewout

    zmirk Guest

    On Mon, 06 Sep 2004 00:03:30 +0200, Ewout

    My experience modelling fonts with solidmodellers is just to time
    consuming and requests to much power from the computer.

    surface modellers are quicker and easier to model fonts
    And you have also special softwares for this type of work.

    Check this site out www.type3.com with this software the limit is the
    user for artistic 3d lettering and milling.

    you can create your own fonts
    no problem developping it on whatever surface
    converting it to splines
    positioning on curves
    text following curves
    all true type fonts

    etc etc...

    If you are interested i can mail you some work i did.
    Or if you need help just mail with a sketch and i will have a look.



    Ps Een vlaming.
    zmirk, Sep 7, 2004
  9. Ewout

    Ewout Guest

    Well, that's the way it is, it's not like I have any other option,
    because the workshop I will create the molds at just installed a brand
    new CAD/CAM system and they decided to go for VX.
    I don't really understand what your question is now (or even what you
    mean by modelling "real world"), but I have found a solution and I will
    explain how I do it now:

    I used a TTF I found that's a bit corrupt, but usefull with a little
    magic :eek:). It's the Sans Serif found at
    http://www.featurecam.com/support/Download/fonts_download.htm. That font
    is not a true TTF, because TTF cannot handle single lines. However, when
    I opened it up in Corel Draw, disabeling font fills showed me the lines,
    after converting the letters to curves, I only needed to remove some
    lines that were created because of the fills, and I could tweak it
    further in Illustrator (I don't work a lot with Corel Draw and the
    version I have is quite old). Which was needed, because some characters
    were really ugly, not the shape, but the curves itself where not
    properly done sometimes. After finishing this I had a complete set of
    characters as curves inside Illustrator. I was also able to import these
    straightly into VX, and use these as a toolpath! Using cutters with the
    right diameter will give me the results I want. That way I don't need to
    worry about sweeps or anything. As for the rest of the mold, that's an
    extremely easy model, basically just boxes with fillets, and it just as
    easily done in VX. That's what I meant by saying it's not an SW-problem
    anymore, I don't need SW any longer! If the shapes would have been more
    complicated, I would definately have used SW but in this case it would
    only have given me more problems, because the import option of DWG is
    not very good in SW (2003).

    Anyway, thanks for your help, and if anyone has any problems like mine
    in the future, feel free to contact me, HTH! :eek:)

    Ewout, Sep 7, 2004
  10. Ewout

    Bo Clawson Guest

    I agree on computer power. Sometimes, however, you want total control
    over text font, size and character widths and I have used TrueType
    fonts for that, but it typically takes a bold Poster type font to make
    it work.

    I had searched some of the Type sellers online and picked VAG Rounded
    (which comes from Volkswagen's design) and bought it in a couple
    flavors and use the bold version.

    I just tried to put on a couple lines of type on 2 3D surfaces in
    solidworks and the model went from 3 megs to 18 megs with the text.
    But it has given good results when the electrode is cut and then
    burned into the cavity plates. I don't do the machining, however.
    I've left that to various toolmakers.

    Bo Clawson, Sep 7, 2004
  11. Ewout

    Ewout Guest

    (OT) Nice to see you use VAG Rounded. That particular font was designed
    for technical drawings in the old days, when people used stencil plates
    for big letters. It was rounded to make the tracing easier. VAG Rounded
    is a pretty font in it's kind.

    Ewout, Sep 7, 2004
  12. Ewout

    kenneth b Guest

    I'm looking for a way to create letters in Solidworks as single lines.

    bear in mind that sw requires closed contours for it's features, unless it's
    a thin-extrude/cut. you will never find a font to do as you describe (using

    another option (if you have acad), create the text and use express tools to
    explode the text (may also need to explode the polylines) and import to cam.
    kenneth b, Sep 7, 2004
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