Watch Out for the Fire Ant

Just found a great resource for open source images.  Its called WikiMedia commons.  It works like WikiPedia, volunteers post, edit, and manage multimedia content.  The media content that then ends up on in the site library is open for any use commercial, private or otherwise.

What this means for me is a source of almost ready made artwork for the CNC machine. Many illustrations are in SVG format, vector instead of raster, and can be easily edited and resized with InkScape.

As a test I started with this original image except I got the SVG version,

I opened this with inkscape and removed all color and labels and then saved that file as a dxf.  Keep in mind I was doing all of this under the linux OS where reportedly the DXF file format works correctly, the method is untested in windows.  I was able to open this saved file with the free version of QCad.  This was not a needed step, however, if you wanted to do more work on the image its nice to know you could use Qcad.

Next, I switched to the windows OS and opened the file in CamBam.  I was able to select certain regions and trim the drawing to get rid of some of the see through effect, left over from simulating 3D with a 2D drawing.  I created an engraving machine operation with a feed rate of 200ipm, plunge of 15ipm, and 15,000 rpm spindle speed.  I was then able to turn the engraving toolpath into a Gcode file.

Finally back in linux I was able to open the file with the EMC control software and get the machine to engrave the ant in a piece of plexiglass.

Before I made the cut the plexiglass was painted black so that after the cut only the very precise lines from the cutter would show.  For the photos I used a “luxeon like” RGB led purchased from ebay

Next time I will try chrome paint under the black to help distibute the light inspiration found in the ArtCrime tutorial.

Finally if you want to make your own ant, here is the Gcode!


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