SunCatcherStudio is a website with simple ways to create a custom CNC cutting design. They keep it simple by offering online generators that produce different designs.
Once generated, you can download the design in several other formats.
What is a Monogram?
A monogram is a form of identification, a customized logo, which you use to represent the initials of one or more people. Its primary purpose is to personalize a wide array of items.
This website offers online generators for monograms with custom fonts. For example, you can create split-letter monograms, family name signs, monogram sports balls, Halloween or Christmas monograms, or even custom U.S. State monograms.
The site also provides lettering generators, patterns, and even regular woodworking projects and plans. In addition, there is a large number of birdhouse and bird feeder plans.
You can find puzzle patterns, geometric patterns, and cursive font makers.
If your goal is to create a CNC cutting design, you need to ensure the generator you're working on provides an option to download as an SVG file. Most everything I looked at does offer an SVG download option, but only some things. For example, some design generators only provide PNG, JPG, or PDF formats.
The generators I looked at do allow a free download without any restrictions. However, they ask for a donation for personal use and offer a commercial use license at a very minimal cost.
I chose a custom monogram for my first CNC cutting design; the second is a state with county maps.
Free Online Monogram Maker: Custom Font Generator
The first design was a custom monogram with a custom font. II kept it simple, using CNC for the initials and an anchor for the background. I also used the default font.
The next step is to choose which format you what to download and save a copy on your local hard drive. I will download the SVG format, which works best for CNC designs.
This step is also where you can donate or purchase a commercial license. Just click on the button with the dollar sign.
The file downloads as an SVG file. It defaults to download.SVG, but you can name it whatever you want.
The website does list a sixth step, and that is to Find more Ideas. They offer links to Learn how to monogram, and Family Monogram Name Signs. Both are helpful links and filled with ideas for your next CNC cutting design.
The next step was to create a new file in Vectric Aspire. I then imported the download vector file.
The first thing to do with these vectors is to validate them using the vector validator. This validation will reveal any problems we might encounter when creating the tool paths.
You can see in the image below that there are three intersection locations. Two are from where the top portion of the anchor overlaps the middle circle.
The third location looks like some random crossing of the lines.
Both of these were easy issues to fix, which is what I did. The circle in the middle also required another smaller inner circle. This smaller circle is needed to correctly create the V-Carve tool path without affecting the middle initials. I did this using an offset vector.
Shown below are the finished vectors.
It's time now to create the tool paths. I once again used a V-Carve tool path. I chose the 60-degree V-bit and included an eight-inch endmill bit to clear the more significant areas. I also set a flat depth of .125 inches.
The software created the tool path without any error messages. I made only one tool path instead of separate ones for the anchor and the initials. This decision resulted in a choice of only one back color - red in this example.
The Vectric simulator looked reasonable, what I expected.
Free Florida State Map with County Lines CNC Design
The following design I chose was a Florida state map with county lines. It was simple but exciting. There were three different styles, and I chose the middle one, without colors.
After clicking on the Save / Edit button, the site gave me some additional customization options. I didn't want colors, so I skipped this part. However, I did choose to add text to this image.
When I initially added the text, it overlapped with the state. This overlap was different from the desired effect. However, the image editor allows you to move the text, which I did below.
The next step was to save the custom CNC cutting design as an SVG file. I clicked on the Save SVG button, prompting me to keep it.
The final step is to create a new file in Vectric Aspire and import the vectors. The country names were relatively small, and I chose a large-size material, i.e., 48 inches wide by 32 inches high.
I also noticed that my added text did not download.
The node editor was surprisingly messy for SVG vectors.
The next step was to validate the vectors. This function found 8 zero spans, 94 overlaps, and 871 intersections. That's a lot of problems to fix.
I did zoom into the node editor, where there were some intersections, to see if there were any apparent problems. What I found were duplicate lines, but they were not exact duplicates.
The designer created arrows for the county names, which were full of vector intersections. I was looking for easy fixes here and not finding any.
I created a tool path anyway to see what would happen. I kept it simple using a V-Carve tool path with a single 60-degree V-Bit. Unfortunately, the tool path did create errors, as I expected.
The Vectric simulation result was different from what I expected. V-Carved the entire state and left the county names standing proud. There were no county lines, however.
This site looked like a great site. It has a lot of great vector generators. But the quality of the generated vectors does not work well for CNC milling. You need to do a lot of tedious node editing.
Another option I should have tried would be downloading the custom design as a PNG or image file instead. Then you could use the image tracing tool to get clean vectors. This alternate process is also tedious but less work, maybe.
It all depends on what kind of project you're working on and how much work you want to put into it (and how much you enjoy node editing).
VCarve Pro Download Files
You must verify all tool path settings, especially the bit settings, to ensure they are compatible with your CNC machine. Every CNC machine operates differently!