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Tools of the Trade If you have a question about what tools we use in creating our trucks here. Also discuss any tool experiences you have, the good the bad and the ugly! Hand tools to all out CNC machines!


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  #121  
Old 08-24-2010, 08:59 AM
CrunchBar CrunchBar is offline
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I have tons of paper model files of Tatra trucks. I have even converted some of them into Sure Cuts Alot files.

You cannot plan on just importing and cutting out those files as is. Styrene is much more difficult to work with than paper. You can't just bend those tabs over and glue it together like you would a paper model. If you are going to use the maximum thickness of styrene, you need to plan on using very custom files, that take hours to get right.

I used three programs to do mine. GIMP for graphic editing, Inkscape for converting to SVG, and of course SCAL. You will find countless YouTube videos on How to cut out cute animals with SCAL

I really wish I had one of these machines, but I am trying to save $$ for a trip back to Europe this fall.

Zack
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  #122  
Old 09-10-2010, 06:42 PM
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I was grabbing as many files from papermo when it existed. You need to get a paper model that gives you all the details in paper, not just print. Most paper models rely on printing details 90% of the time to get the end result. The paper model that I am looking for would have a white model with no printing when it was built. All detail would be arrived thru paper. I have played around with little conversions and sadly its going to be a lot of work to do a conversion of a full body or truck. As said before folds and tabs simply don't work. 90 corners don't work unless you design the file so the blade over cuts. details need to be skinned on in multiple layers. Like when I did my toyota cab back your looking at a dozen prototypes and 8 layers before your happy with a result that you'd be willing to glue into a body.

That being said I am 100% committed to doing this in a reproducible cricut body if and I mean IF I can find a decent base model to work from in a body I want to waste the time on doing the conversions. Unimog 416 hard top, fj-40, or man cab being 3.
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  #123  
Old 09-29-2010, 09:46 PM
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I just ordered mine today. Got it off of ebay for $160 shipped, it is new and comes with the warranty and everything. I have a ton of ideas to be using this on. Lot of great ideas in this thread, I love it!
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  #124  
Old 09-30-2010, 02:16 PM
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I just ordered mine today. Got it off of ebay for $160 shipped, it is new and comes with the warranty and everything. I have a ton of ideas to be using this on. Lot of great ideas in this thread, I love it!
Right on, It will be awesome to see what you come up with.

I am still on the hunt for some decent card models that I can use as the base for a cricut custom body. But no one seems to be doing Mans, unimogs, or fj's... If I am going to waste all that time and energy making a body I want it to at least be one I want to run...
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  #125  
Old 09-30-2010, 02:22 PM
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I am fairly fluent in photshop and various programs. I am planning on tracing some profiles from some photos and then importing them to a SVG file. I am sure it will work from there. What do you use, Corel or the other one you mentioned. I am going free until I can get some things done with this and help make some money. I am planning on a livestock trailer as well as a grain trailer with this machine. I have also ordered the vinyl for the graphics for my reefer trailer. I can't wait till it all comes in.
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  #126  
Old 09-30-2010, 04:50 PM
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Most people use this:

Open source and getting better every update!

http://inkscape.org/
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  #127  
Old 10-12-2010, 07:11 PM
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If you watch this video and you use SCAL 2.0, you will find that you do not need to convert to svg.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotat...xic&feature=iv
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  #128  
Old 10-12-2010, 09:13 PM
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If you watch this video and you use SCAL 2.0, you will find that you do not need to convert to svg.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotat...xic&feature=iv
Ugh bad bad bad idea! Heres my reasons...

First and foremost tracing is terrible even in programs as expensive as Coreldraw. If your tracing a picture (for example if you try to get detail you end up with every line looking like a set of stairs. If you smooth out the drawing to get rid of the staircase you always lose details that you are trying to keep. I have been using tracing programs for years and hardly ever do I not end up saying screw it and drawing it myself. A simple design that I can redraw in say 50 nodes, a trace may use 5000 nodes to get the same detail. If I let the program reduce to say 500 nodes I always lose huge detail, if I set it for 50 nodes it would come out as complete garbage.

The other issue is the program tends to pick shapes or layers weird, so you almost always have to edit a form to get it to close properly.

Heres the number one reason why this sucks when using a cricut. If the vector file say had 5000 nodes, thats 5000 times the blade will be stopping and starting. I have watched this destroy the object cutting in thin paper. In styrene its 1000 times worse as all your doing is stabbing into the plastic. As the blade spins on its axis you won't even get a straight line but a thousand little angles jammed into the plastic to create the illusion of a straight line. For styrene to be cut and look good you want to get the blade in, get it turned in the direction your travelling and make the longest cut possible. Its easiest on the blade, the styrene and the machine in general. Once you see it in action you'll know what I mean...

The perfect example is to trace or draw a circle. If I draw a circle there is 1 node. so the blade starts in one place and completes the circle. If I trace a googled very high res circle (done just now to prove the point) without smoothing there are 7356 nodes, 100% smoothing is 650 nodes. Both will have a mess of issues to fix to clean it up. Both think the circle is in fact 43 groups of shapes. I could try different methods to try to improve that, but thats in an expensive program... FOR ONE CIRCLE! Think about a more complicated picture... I have included a pic of a smoothed and a detailed trace to show what I mean. Think that every single line would be cut by itself. My 1 node circle would be clean and cut in a second. Both the traces circles would come out a mess and would take forever or forever and a month to complete.

Then theres the consistency of related parts. If your making say a bed for a Toyota you could be cutting 13 or 30 parts to make it. If you draw all those parts together in a program (corel or inkscape it doesn't matter) when you scale the parts in cricut you can get all of them right the first time. I draw everything in 1-1 scale so if my part is to be 1" I draw it that way. When I import to cut I have to add a ratio value to the program to adjust for the cricut not cutting 1" when I tell it to... It not hard but it needs to be done. Once that adjustment value is figured out for your machine you can simple scale everything using that value and the cut is what you expect.

What I find is best is to either start with a vector file in the first place or to set my picture up as a background layer and lock it. Then start drawing the vector file on top using a color that I can clearly see over the picture. Once I am happy with the line drawing. I can remove the original picture and have my vector picture ready to go...

Now having said ALL that there is def good reasons to use a tracing program. They are great for people that can't do better by drawing it themselves. At least there is the option. I hope this makes sense.
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  #129  
Old 10-12-2010, 09:34 PM
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Heres a more complicated example that has been traced. I grabbed this as a high res image to use in my example.

Detailed with no smoothing is 22654 nodes. So 22654 times the blade drops and does a microcut. 100% smoothing reduces it to 1366 nodes and much detail is lost.

I could most likely draw the exact jeep in under 250 nodes... A simplified one which would do beter in the cricut in under 100.
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  #130  
Old 10-12-2010, 09:43 PM
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Remember cutting in styrene also means you can't just pull off a 90 degree cut. The blade wades thru the plastic. So you either put up with the curved angles or you plan for it by drawing the shape so that the blade is allowed to over run its corner in an outside corner. Or runs short and is forced to start a new line for the other side (exaggerated in the picture for effect) This allows better corners to be cut using the cricut with styrene.

Hope it helps...
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  #131  
Old 10-12-2010, 09:57 PM
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All that you said makes perfect sense, I am learning as I go, you have learned a lot and am teaching me many things. Thanks for all of the help. I will get going with mine within a couple of weeks.
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  #132  
Old 10-12-2010, 10:51 PM
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Another trick I use is I keep my pads and blades separate from the wife. I want to know my blades are sharp and the second I feel they are dulling I slip them over into her pile. I have also started using the deep cut blade in the standard holder. The blade is sharper then the stock blade. But don't use the deep cut holder as it floats to high and the result wasn't as good, so save your money. The machine can't physically take the thickness the deep cut blade claims it can...

The pads last a long time if you keep paper away from them. I warp the pads after so many cuts, but they outlast the wifes pads by a fair margin. The paper leaves dust and fibers behind each cut. something you don't get with styrene and vinyl.

The cricut can cut multiple times over the same lines. I gave up on this all together as it seems to work 50% of the time. If anything goes wrong the entire page is wrecked. And in styrene especially it doesn't take much to bump the mechanism. I threw out more cuts then it was worth trying this. This option may be better in other materials but I just can't recommend it in styrene.

The last trick I can offer in this post is track your settings. Styrene is pretty simple as you want as deep and hard as you can go. Speed seems to be med/slow as slow can jerk, and fast the blade can wander off track to easy. This setting does leave drag marks as the blade rests on the styrene when its up moving to the next cut position. No problem for coloured styrene but I had to change everything to cut clear. The cuts aren't as deep but you don't have trails.

My settings are:

65lb card (for mock up) speed 3, pressure 4, depth normal blade 2
1/16 speed 3, pressure 6, depth deep blade 6
1/32 (clear) speed 3, pressure 6, depth deep blade 3
vinyl speed 3, pressure 3, depth standard blade 4-5 (vinyl is a pain in that your trying to cut all the way thru the vinyl but not the backer... I am still playing with these settings)

Every material has its own rules. I found out that for the most part settings listed on the internet aren't that accurate as I think every printer is slightly different and the adjustment points are so fine. So each time you try a new material just grab the stock cartridge and try a simple small item. Start off too light and see what happens. Move the cut over and adjust down until you get the result your after. Once your happy mark it down in your book or what ever and the next time you want to run that material you already know where to start. Saves time down the road.

Saves your pads and blades. Something I have been trying to teach the wife and kids to no avail...
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  #133  
Old 01-24-2012, 06:36 PM
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anyone know of free programs for the cricut express2


Id like to be able to desing my own stuff and have the machine cut it out
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