Freesteel Blog » Freesteel is Go for Beta

Freesteel is Go for Beta

Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 8:58 pm Written by:

This is the blog entry that our Online Adaptive Clearing Webpage points to for the first few weeks as a place for comments, impressions, advice, hints to us from prospective users. Please post anything you like, especially if you are a complete stranger.

We have cut back on instructions (which no one wants to read anyway) and made the interface as intuitive as possible. If we’ve missed out too much information so that you can’t understand it, please tell us and we’ll see what we can do about it.

While the online system lacks certain features, it should be adequate for someone to actually cut some metal if they are willing to give it a try. In fact, anyone who expresses the willingness to do this will have our undivided attention, and we will do whatever changes necessary to the interface or post-processor to make it happen.

Workshops are busy places so there is a reluctance to try something new that will always be risky and likely to cause delays in the course of ordinary business. This cutting algorithm should therefore be reserved for the hours of research and development, driven by exploration and curiosity, and the potential that this could have a big effect on tool life and cutting times in appropriate situations.

Like most CAM software programmers, we don’t operate machine tools ourselves, so we have no way to tell what those situations are. We also don’t hire salesmen to go out and exaggerate all its qualities on the basis of no actual data, and convince customers to buy it who are then unknowingly paying for the privilege of being tested on. We’re trying to do this the Open Source way of getting genuine facts from out in the field, none of which will be kept confidential.

So have fun and enjoy, and we’ll keep this going as long as it remains interesting.


  • 1. Neel replies at 21st March 2006, 3:55 pm :

    The interactive GUI looks good. One question regarding thickness. The image shows tool offset outwards when a positive thickness is entered. Is this correct?
    Should the tool profile offset inwards for positive thickness?
    Can we apply negative thickness?

  • 2. Martin replies at 24th March 2006, 6:39 pm :

    Applying thickness is done by calculating a toolpath for an oversized cutter, and then machining with the normal cutter. The oversizing isequivalent to the thickness. Think of it like this: On a flat plane, the cutter center of a cutter fattened by the thickness will be higher by this thickness in z above the flat plane. Now if you position the normal cutter with it’s center at this position, you will leave ‘thickness’ amount of stock.

    Negative thickness is applied by using a smaller cutter, one use for negative thickness is the machining of electrodes which are then used for spark erosion machining. While in principle applying thickness is very simple, you just calculate the toolpath for a thickness adjusted cutter, we haven’t allowed for negative thickness yet. We think it is not usually needed for area clearing, unless somebody proves us wrong.

    Hope this explains it.

  • 3. Guy replies at 4th April 2006, 4:10 pm :

    I’ve spent time looking over the FAQ’s as well as reading some (not all) of the blog.

    I really like what you guys are doing. I am fully aware of SurfCAM and DepoCAM and think your ideas have legs, arms, heads etc.

    I know little of software engineering (but then I know a lot of software engineers and they know just as much as me), but I know quite a lot about machining and inspection (and no matter what people say, the 2 are inextricably linked).

    I too come from the corporate world, and have splintered off on my own to focus on areas I think are of value to the world. I don’t have your sponsorship – but I have vision and I have contacts.

    Give me a call – it wouldn’t take a “real person” too long to find my details. I’d like to know more about what you do, why you do it, and where you are going and if I can help.

  • 4. Peter replies at 9th April 2006, 9:03 am :

    Just read the “How does it work”
    Well I wouldn’t apply a long series 3/4 end mill to hardened steel down its full length whilst climb milling, not with any machine.

  • 5. Peter replies at 9th April 2006, 9:10 am :

    Just readmachine. the “How does it work”
    Well I wouldn’t apply a long series 3/4 end mill to hardened steel down its full length whilst climb milling, not with any

  • 6. Martin replies at 10th April 2006, 11:12 am :

    Please have a look in here to find a response to you comment. Thanks

  • 7. Randy Gordon-Gilmore replies at 14th April 2006, 7:48 pm :

    Hey Martin and Julian,

    Thanks so much for your effort in developing the roughing algorithm! I’ve seen videos on the Web about such, and was excited to learn about your page. I know I’d seen it before, but my ears really pricked up when Robert G. posted about it in his Yahoo group. I’m a Meshcam user, and would love to try your roughing algorithm as a replacement for Meshcam’s roughing. May I download the freestanding program please? I do not like Web interfaces at all. You can see the type of thing I’m working on on my website.



  • 8. Martin replies at 15th April 2006, 5:33 pm :

    Hi Randy, which yahoo group is that? Can you post a link to it here? I will email you a demo version, or link where to download.
    Do you use any other CAM software? Have you ever used EMC for Linux to operate your CNC steppers?

    Thanks for the interest


  • 9. DavidB replies at 27th April 2006, 1:19 pm :

    Hi Martin & Julian, I have just recently finished a cnc router primarily for making hobby scale patterns for casting, my system is running EMC on debian linux and would be interested in doing comparisons between your algorithm, and meshcam, I will also do some video of both systems for you, would it be possible to use the exe file version instead of the online version?

  • 10. Julian replies at 27th April 2006, 5:29 pm :

    The exe file only works on Windows. You need a Debian version, yes? I don’t know much about that, but Martin might see if he can send you something.

    Is there anything we could do with the on-line version to make it useable, or is the concept lacking?

  • 11. DavidB replies at 27th April 2006, 8:28 pm :

    Julian, I prepare stl files on a pc running windows xp, this is done using Alibre Design Xpress, I usually convert the stl file into gcode using meshcam and then send the resulting file to a samba server in the garage where the debian EMC machine can pick it up. I’ll probably be trying EMC2 soon, so any gcode I generate I’ll try against both flavours of EMC. I’m not against the on-line version, I just dislike them. I work as an Oracle DBA and have a lot of experiance with Linux (10+ years) and I appreciate just how much work goes into producing on-line web apps.

  • 12. maxim replies at 28th October 2008, 8:45 pm :

    Good day. Sorry for my English, my name Maxim
    I have found your site about 3D-slicer the Program to me very much it was pleasant.
    Perfectly does the part.But I have a problem. Help please with visualization of the received data.
    More precisely the matter is that by means of your program I cut the stl a file on layers, and have received a set of digits and co-ordinates, and here what program now these co-ordinates to transform into a figure which it is possible to print out I do not know.
    After all on a site there is a visualization example. How you have made it? It is necessary for me for my project. Has conceived to make 3D the printer. With electronics it is a little familiar, with mechanics it is perfectly familiar and with programming for me very big problems.
    Help please.

  • 13. Martin replies at 6th November 2008, 7:40 pm :

    Hi Maxim

    I’ve spotted your comment on our website:

    The visualisation on the site is done using one of the command line options an output to a XHTML file with SVG that can be viewed in Firefox.

    I assume that for your 3D printer you will need an image format like BMP, PNG, JPEG or similar?

    If you want to avoid any programming, you can use a tool called hpgs that can convert a HPGL file (slice can write HPGL) into the image format PNG or PostScript.

    Of course the better option would be to learn some programming:
    Have a look at the Enthought python edition and use the python imaging library to turn the text output from our slice programm into images.

  • 14. lezdep replies at 11th November 2008, 5:43 am :

    Web demo looks to be down. Which email should I use to ask for standalone demo ?
    I’ve tried to email to Message returned with delivery error.

  • 15. Martin replies at 14th November 2008, 4:52 pm :

    Web Demo is up again.

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