Going from Inventor to Inkscape to Easel

Over the past year, I have struggled to take objects from Autodesk Inventor (which I really like) to Easel. Through reading on this forum and working with the programs, I have come up with a “how-to” set of directions that I use to teach my students the basics of taking their designs from Inventor through Inkscape to Easel and on to carving. I have included them here in case anyone else wants to use this software combination (which is free to many) and save having to work through all of the issues. I have attached the guide I give to the students, and would appreciate any advice if someone has a better way to do things, as I am still rather new at this. This guide assumes that you have set up a G28 and G30 on your machine.

How to Carve 3-18 - Forum version.doc (38.5 KB)

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Here is a video I did for my students doing the same thing. (minus the Inkscape)

I liked the video but I do not have any audio associated with it when I open it. Is there a link with audio or could I be doing something wrong? I tried to open it directly from the site and save it to my computer with no difference.

I tried to reproduce your method, and ran into an error importing the .dxf file into Inkscape, making me thing that I did something wrong in making the projected geometry. I will continue to work on this, as it saves the step of converting to sheet metal which seems like an irreversible process in Inventor

Hey John,
There’s actually no audio in the video. The method I used skips inkscape as the dxf can be converted to an svg online. I had them remove any depth features, like the fillets in the example, that added unnecessary paths to their dxf. It would be easier to just have them avoid those features, but that particular project had a 3d print option.
I’d like to use Fusion 360, but our IT guys can’t figure out how to install it. There are times when it really makes more sense to use it, and I’ll have my students create an account and install it.

I tried to use the DXF Converter you used, and it went better, but not perfect. The piece that I tried it on was made out of ABS and is multilayered. I have attached an image of the piece here. NavX top flat.pdf (752.1 KB)

When I use the online dxf converter, it treats the layers in a different way than if I go through Inkscape. With Inkscape I can hollow out the center of the item using “fill”, and then cut around the outside of the item with a deeper cut. When I tried your method, it seemed to consider the entire raised edge of the item as a single part. If I choose to cut outside, Easel makes it look like it will cut outside on both sides of the raised portion. Thus I have to choose if I want to cut my item completely free and end up with a square doughnut, or cut a partial depth on the inside and outside and then finish the outside by hand.

As for Fusion 360, I have played around with it and it is good, but I have steered clear of it because you have to know all of the CAM issues (speeds and feeds, clearances and bit selection, etc) to get it to work on the X-Carve. I have not found a way to export the item I made in Fusion into Easel and let Easel generate the g-code. While I will eventually get there (using Fusion instead of Inventor), I like the way that Easel gives me recommendations in the feeds and speeds - as a relatively new user, that takes a lot of the stress off of me. It is also much easier for the students to use. I have gotten them to the point that they can design some basic things in Easel and cut them without me being present. I do not have enough time with them to get them to that point if we go through Fusion.

@BillBlades HSM is definitely the direct way to go from Inventor to toolpath. It’s the same as the CAM environment in Fusion 360. For younger students being introduced to CAD, the learning curve is a bit steep. Getting the designs into Easel makes the CAM side of things much easier.

@JohnEntwistle I understand what you’re saying with that part. I think you could project the geometry of the profile instead of the top face. It should work in Easel. You may have to mess with movig layers to the front / back in Easel. I’ll try something out.

I tried moving the layers in Easel, but with no real success. I can see on the outlined parts that it is treating my parts differently than I expect.

I thought about HSM last fall, and bailed because it required me to know too much about the tool paths. As a beginner, that was too much for me to handle when I was still learning the very basics like G28 and the value of bump stops. Now that I have some experience with Easel, and have a better idea about the issues with tool paths, feeds and speeds, etc., I may give that another try. It will probably become a summer project

The CAM settings in HSM and Fusion 360 are daunting at first, but there are only a handful that really matter. I only use it with stdents where I feel like it is neccessary. I also don’t let the kids control the machine, though.

This will show you what I meant.

Wow - I really appreciate that effort. I think that when you clicked on the edges of the outer edge in Inventor (rather than selecting the surface, which I think that I did), it allowed the program to treat the outer edge separately from the inner edge. Huge help.

The program that you are using to make these videos - is it free? What is it? I could use that to develop a series of lessons for the kids. I have another adult working with me on teaching them CAD, and having something for them to refer to when we are not around would be fantastic.

No problem! I learn more by helping others than I ever would on my own.

You could also select the bottom face to project, but because it had the through holes I wasn’t sure how that would be handled if they were duplicated.

I’ve used iSpring Free Cam recently. No frills and only exports .wmv, but I convert them after the fact. I use ScreenCastOMatic as well. Both simple, free, limited, but perfect for what we do. I tend to make videos for everything…helps a ton.