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Quality of life improvements for laser cutting

tom_oinntom_oinn Member Posts: 10
Hi,

I've been using Onshape for a few days, and coming from a background of zero CAD experience I'm very happy with it. I have modelled a new version of a robot chassis for a competition later in the year and am now at the point where I need to take the design and produce laser cut parts (both parts and templates to take into our metal workshop and cut by hand). 

I've run into one problem, described in https://forum.onshape.com/discussion/1919/planar-surface-dxf-export-misses-features#latest and identified something that, if implemented, would make life hugely more pleasant:

I'd like to be able to create a collection of planar faces, and then export the collection as a zip file of DXF/DWG. In my current design I have around twenty faces which need to be exported and cut on the laser. If I change a parameter in the part studio I need to manually select each of those twenty faces, one at a time, export, and rename the exported file to something sensible. Just clicking, saving and managing the files takes over half an hour - as you can imagine I'm not keen to do this very often, so while I can update the design in a few seconds (yay, parametric CAD is amazing!) I've got this obviously automatable task which I have to do by hand afterwards.

I know that the drawing functionality can somewhat address this, but what I really want is a directory of DXF files, as I'll work in the laser cutter software to lay those out on a sheet or sheets (different parts need different materials). Also the drawing performance is bad enough to be unusable at the moment so it's really not an option.

So - would it be possible to a) create a collection of planar faces, name each one and have the collection persist as part of the model, and b) take such a collection and emit a zip file of DXF/DWG, using the specified face names? 

From my software engineer perspective this doesn't feel like a huge task (planar faces must already have unique IDs or you couldn't download them, the export code is already in there, the only new bit would be an addition to the data model to handle the collection structure), and it would make a huge difference to workflow for anyone using Onshape with a laser cutter!

Tom

Best Answer

Answers

  • jan_rychterjan_rychter Member Posts: 19
    OnShape could do a little bit more to accomodate people designing for laser cutting. If you intend to laser-cut your model, you'd normally want an outline of every part projected in a "normal to" view. There is of course a question "normal to what". Instead of selecting faces each time I need to export, I'd much rather label those faces somehow — attributes, markers, mating connectors?

    This all seems trivial for simple boxes, but think of a model like this one: https://jan.rychter.com/enblog/dollhouse-built-from-laser-cut-plywood-5-2014 — I'd really like the software to help me with counting and generating the necessary outlines.

    If I could download a ZIP file with all the DXF outlines, I could write software that would auto-pack them into sheets of predetermined size (and yes, I do realize that this is the knapsack problem https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapsack_problem).
  • brucebartlettbrucebartlett Member, OS Professional, Mentor Posts: 1,847 PRO
    edited December 2015
    OnShape could do a little bit more to accomodate people designing for laser cutting. If you intend to laser-cut your model, you'd normally want an outline of every part projected in a "normal to" view. There is of course a question "normal to what". Instead of selecting faces each time I need to export, I'd much rather label those faces somehow — attributes, markers, mating connectors?

    This all seems trivial for simple boxes, but think of a model like this one: https://jan.rychter.com/enblog/dollhouse-built-from-laser-cut-plywood-5-2014 — I'd really like the software to help me with counting and generating the necessary outlines.

    If I could download a ZIP file with all the DXF outlines, I could write software that would auto-pack them into sheets of predetermined size (and yes, I do realize that this is the knapsack problem https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapsack_problem).
    Vote here for this improvement https://forum.onshape.com/discussion/1510/export-dxfs#latest

    edit*** @lougallo ;that poll is closed for comment, could worth opening a new one "Tagging faces for dxf export". 
    Engineer ı Product Designer ı Onshape Consulting Partner
    Twitter: @onshapetricks  & @babart1977   
  • jan_rychterjan_rychter Member Posts: 19
    Just wanted to mention that a closely related discussion is in https://forum.onshape.com/discussion/comment/13594 (another thread about laser cutting).
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