3D machining with SRP Player

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Machining a 3D design from solid material

The SRP Player software is fairly helpful at guiding you through all the necessary steps, which appear on the right-hand pane of the display. But it does have some strange quirks which this guide will attempt to address. The steps are as follows:

Model Size and Orientation

This page is for setting the scale of the model to be machined, either in absolute units, or in relation to the size of the source file. You can also set the model orientation to give the best results when machining.

If any of the XYZ sizes are too large for the machine, it's possible to get the software stuck on this page, even if this is just a result of rotating the model to a new orientation. If this happens, reduce the highlighted dimension to a size the software is happy with, then correct the orientation of the part, then bring the scaling back to the correct values or click the '1/1' button.

The axes displayed in the bottom left corner of the screen relate correctly to the machine axes (i.e. Z = up/down), and are useful when figuring out the correct orientation for machining.

Type of Milling

Settings on this page change the default options when calculating the tool paths. It's effectively a 'wizard' for setting up the machining operations. All settings provided on this page can be overridden later using the 'Edit tool paths' function.

Better / faster

This affects the cutting speed and resolution. 'Faster' is usually fine.

Flat / curved

This affects whether a ball nose or flat tool is chosen.

Cylindrical / top / top & bottom

Cylindrical is only available when the 4th axis is installed. Top & bottom machining adds operations to machine the part after it has been turned over

Create Tool Path

The software asks for the size of the raw material, including a margin, which is specified (later) in the tool path instructions. Type the size of your material, no smaller than the values suggested. Prefect accuracy is not critical, but always overestimate rather than underestimate. You will see how the model fits into your proposed material size.

If you are happy with the default settings, click 'Create Tool Path' and move on to the preview stage. Otherwise, click 'Edit' to modify the rules for each tool path.

Edit tool paths

This shows a list of the tool paths that have been specified. If you clicked 'Create Tool Path' on the previous page, clicking each path on the list will show it on the model view. This is useful for assessing whether the tool path is what you want.

Expanding each path shows a range of options, for example the margin, tool size and type, cutting parameters, etc. Each can be customised. To see the results of any changes, click 'Close', go back to the previous screen, click 'Create Tool Path', then 'Edit', and click the modified path to view it on the 3D view.

'Roughing' paths are for removing volumes of material. They work in layers, scanning over the volumes to be removed, before doing a contour pass around the part outline, offset by a given distance, to leave some material to be removed in the finishing pass.

'Finishing' paths only follow the contours of the model; they won't remove material from spaces. 'Finishing' cuts can be set to follow scan lines in the X or Y directions, while following the contours of the model the Z direction. They can also be set to make a final pass on each layer following the contours of the model in the XY plane.

To avoid scanning over the top surface of the material, set 'Depth' to 'Partial', and reduce the start height by 0.01mm.

Preview Results

This simulates the cutting process and displays it in 3D. It can take some time for complex jobs, and can be skipped if required.

Perform Cutting

When you're happy with your tool paths, click 'Start Cutting' and follow the instructions. SRP Player requires that you set the XY origin of the UCS in the centre of the workpiece.

You have the option to save the job including all the tool path settings.

Modifying an existing part

SRP Player doesn't mill holes that are the same diameter as the cutting tool; the holes have to be larger. The tool rises to maximum height between each operation, to reduce the danger of collisions.

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