This review is for the free CNC projects offered by the FreeVector.us website.
Free CNC Projects Website Impressions
At first glance, FreeVectors offers a lot of free CNC and laser projects. The project images are attractive, and the pages look clean and modern. However, it would be an excellent site if you did no more than this.
However, once I clicked on the menu items, they appeared random.
For example, under the Vector menu is a submenu option for Rose. When I clicked on Rose, the following Free Vector Files For laser cutting projects displayed.
I tried another menu option for the Cdr file, and the same page was displayed.
Likewise, when clicking on one of the categories links, the page display itself, in this case, "Free DXF File." The result was it displayed once again, you guessed it, the same page.
The other issue I ran into was many CDR-type files for download. These are vector files but in the CorelDRAW format. You must have CorelDRAW to open these and save them in a different form. I do not have this software, so these were useless.
I have Adobe Illustrator, and from what I've read, it can open CDR-type files. But opening in Illustrator did not work for me.
I found a couple of nice DXF files to download for a test.
Wall Clock CNC Template DXF File
The first free CNC project I downloaded was a simple but very nice Wall Clock.
The download process was easy. Click the download button under the image. It saves the download as a RAR-type file.
I opened the RAR file, and there was a DXF file.
I opened the DXF file using Vectric Aspire, and everything looked fine. It looked like a wall clock.
Enabling the node editor for these vectors revealed surprisingly clean vectors. There were only so many node points for a DXF file import.
I next did my usual vector validator check, and surprisingly, it found 109 intersections. Looking at the drawing, they all seem consistent. So it probably had something to do with the design process.
I zoomed in on one of the locations as much as possible to see if I could find the problem. However, I did see one spot darker than the others. Seeing this, I'd suggest that the designer properly join the vectors.
I next made my "open" vector selection to see if it found any "open" vectors. Not surprisingly, it selected almost all the vectors as being open. This find would make sense if the designer needed to join the individual vectors correctly. But unfortunately, they only joined four vectors properly in this whole project.
I next created a profile tool path without fixing any of these vector issues. Instead, I used a quarter-inch endmill for the cut and clicked on the Calculate button to create a tool path.
A couple of error messages are displayed first. One was about multiple open contours, with an option to cancel the toolpath creation.
The second message informed us about ignoring unsuitable open vectors. It identified two hundred seventy-four "open" vectors.
After executing the tool path in the Vectric simulator, less-than-desirable results.
The Vectric software does offer a feature to fix the "open" vectors automatically. A Join Vectors function will join all "open" vectors within a specified tolerance value of each other. In our case, it's 0.1 mm. This function does manage to close all open vectors.
If I recalculate the tool path using an eight-inch endmill instead of a quarter inch, we now see a result in the simulator that is closer to what we want. It will still require work to get the details cut out of each number.
Free CNC Projects CNC Wood Pattern Design
The following project file I decided to try was a CNC Wood Pattern Design.
The file download was equally simple, but the actual file was an SVG and not a DXF format. This different file type is a minor deal since SVG is what we want.
I created a new file in Vectric Aspire and imported the SVG file.
Enabling the node editor revealed a lot of node points. There were more than expected for an SVG file, which is typically cleaner than DXF files.
I was zooming in on a portion of the vectors, though I showed the nodes to be clean. The design was also correctly using smooth node points. This view of the node editor looked more like I expected with an SVG file.
Checking the vector using the vector validator function again revealed more vector intersections. There are eighteen of them this time.
This time I first joined all of the "open" vectors. I had to use a tolerance value of .01 inches this time, which is bigger than the .01 mm we used earlier.
The extra step of joining the "open" vectors did the right thing and eliminated any "open" vectors.
The last step is to create a profile tool path. I again used the eight-inch endmill due to all of the detail. There were no error messages this time during the tool path creation process.
The result is alright.
While we were able to get both designs to mill as advertised. They were also far from clean files, as indicated on their site.
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!