I know I am out of my league here… but, Can I teach my self cad and cam for CNC? I have no cad experience, but I have built some furniture (wood and metal) by hand, and I use MAYA from time to time for work (full time vfx artist).
I am looking to do 1-off simple projects, like bookcases and benches.
Should I just break down and take a class? I’d rather spend my money on materials. From what I gather solidworks seems to be the best bet for me. I am having trouble finding places to learn it though (in LA).
learning to produce surfaces suitable for machining and learning g-code to run an actual cnc machine are two wildly different things. if you’re familiar with maya nurbs then you’re most of the way towards knowing how to build models ready for machining simple products such as bookcases. maya has miserable controls for tolerance control, that’s about the only place i think you might have any problems handing off your models in iges or step formats to someone else to machine.
Here’s the thing with Solidworks… it doesn’t run a CNC. You need an additional component (SolidCAM, MasterCAM, CAMWorks) that runs overtop of the Solidworks environment. And yes, even then you’ll want some knowledge of G-Code. If you can draw a rectangle, you can make a surface for CNC router tables for plywood furniture (bent plywood and 3-axis machining is a different story all together) Most CNC routers that cut plywood run a 2.5 axis program, meaning it can plunge into material and cut, then lift up.
Find a technical college, and learn CNC machining. That will teach you all you need to know, and that same tech school probably has solidworks classes as well.
Thanks for the supplies… Quick follow up, do most people who design these types of products actually know or need any knowledge of how to run the CNC? Or do you just send your files to the Manufacturer and they figure it out?
In short, yes you can teach yourself. It would be much more advisable to take a class somewhere, because you will definitely make mistakes you could avoid if you just learned the basics (there are some dangers of course). At the very least get a good textbook that you can refer to, for things like tool geometry, feeds and speeds etc.
This is really not the best place to be asking info on machining. Try http://www.cnczone.com/ or maybe http://www.instructables.com or other similar places. There is some free software around, but you get what you pay for Look at http://www.linuxcnc.org they have a decent, very basic program and some info. You still would need a drawing program that generates the G-code like Nurb has mentioned, unless you intend to write the code yourself, which I only do for simple parts.