First attempt at a “raster-like” CNC photo engraving

This weekend I made my first attempt at a "raster-like" photo-engraving into wood using my home-built CNC mill.  My previous photo-engravings with the CNC used the "vector" method of using software to define the "edges" of color zones in the image and only engraving these edges into the wood, sort of like a black and white line drawing.  For the "raster-like" method, every inch of the image gets "cut" into the wood by the CNC’s cutter using lawn-mower-like back-and-forth passes.  The darker the color of each photo pixel, the deeper the cut’s plunge.  Therefore, if you are using a "V" style bit in the CNC, the deeper the cut also translates into a slightly "wider" cut as more of the "V" enters the wood with depth.  This method results in a more photo-like result with much more detail than the vector method, but it is also harder to do and slower.

For this first attempt, I used a 9"x14" piece of mahogany ply mounted to the CNC’s table, and a carbide Dremel 1/4" V-bit.  I generated the g-code of the image of the "Big Ben" clock tower, using the trial version of the Vectric PhotoEngrave software that I download from their website.   The software was intuitive, and produced a g-code file that easily imported into TurboCNC on my CNC’s PC with no errors. 

The CNC ran for almost 3 hours, and engraved the photo very well, but most of the detail of the image was not visible because I apparently used a "V"-bit that did not have enough width at the top…i.e., the changes in depth did not cause enough changes in width of cut to be easily visible.

Therefore, I will buy a bit with either a 60-degree or a 90-degree point and try again….

So, my first attempt at raster-engraving met with mixed results…time to try again.

About mattsanf

Matt Sanfilippo is the Chief Partnership Officer (CPO) for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Co-Director of its Engineering Research Accelerator. In this role, Matt coordinates and enables strategic and sponsored research opportunities across the college, and stewards the development of proposals for major research opportunities along strategic themes. Additionally, he enables collaboration among the college's research institute/center executive directors, and industrial and government relations personnel in the pursuit of opportunities with industry, federal and state governments. Before becoming CPO for the College, Matt was the Senior Executive Director for Research Initiatives, the Executive Director of CMU's SII (Smart Infrastructure Institute) and ICES (Institute for Complex Engineered Systems), and Associate Director of PITA (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance) and RAMP (Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania). Before CMU, Matt was Managing Director of Applied Technology for Michael Baker Corporation, an engineering and energy services firm. Matt managed Baker's technology division including Geographic Information System (GIS), software and web development, multimedia, virtual reality, visualization, Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping and surveying services. Before joining Baker, Matt was an Innovation Director for Redleaf Group, a Venture Capital/Operating Company focused on information security, supply chain and mobility solutions. While at Redleaf, Matt managed technical due diligence for seed-stage investments and coordinated relationships between Redleaf and their partner companies. Prior to Redleaf, Matt was CIO of GZA GeoEnvironmental Technologies, an infrastructure engineering firm, and operations manager for their Internet start-up that focused on web-technologies for health and safety and manufacturing metrics. Matt is on the board of Larson Design Group (LDG), past Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, current board member of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), current Vice President of the Sewickley Heights Gun Club (SHGC) and former member of the Information Sciences and Technology Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania State University Beaver. Matt is also former Vice President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals and former Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Baker Combined Charity of Pennsylvania.

Posted on January 30, 2006, in CNC. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on First attempt at a “raster-like” CNC photo engraving.

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