I had not seen anyone really taking about the newest update to Easel with the ability to now add Raster tool paths…… So I gave it a try and here is what I thought about it.
Some months ago I got to talk to Inventables about Raster cutting. Evidently they were working on it and wanted the opinions of some users. I was glad they choose me as one of those people.
So. it is released and I wanted to give it a try. I wanted to do a sign for my Ex-Stepfather (mom moved on to #3) and his now wife Laurie. The sign itself is styled after Schmidt Beer… it is a beer from the northwest (according to their advertisements) Pretty simple though… just 2 colors.
So I found a photo of the beer sign, brought it into Inkscape… and then into Easel. I then did some additional changes like removing the “Beer” from the sign and adding “mike and laurie” also straightening out the outer border lines for the sign. i then set my depths of cut and chose the type of raster cut i wanted to use for both roughing and detail bits. I then used one of my free days for easel pro and off I went.
This photo shows the 1/4" straight bit running in its first pass. You can see that i am using 1/2" PVC with some Oramask on top. A few tips for PVC cutting… 1. straight bits are your friend. 2. this sheet of PVC is a 2’x4’ sheet. my next sheet of PVC i will cover the entire thing in Oramask. then it will be much easier and lest wasteful to cover the other pieces of the PVC with the Oramask later. (also if you missed your x/y zero a little you will not have to cut emergency pieces in the middle of the carve to cover the 2 inches that you missed.) 3. put the mask down by hand and then use a flat object to rub it down in 2 directions. you will see that with the rub it will get a little darker shade of blue. in my “emergency” areas I could tell that it didn’t cut as clean as the other pre-applied areas. Anyways, I had selected that the Raster move in the “Y” direction. If you look where the carve started (by the part that eventually says 'Laurie") the bit goes in, did a slight Y movement then (without lifting) moved diagonally to another area. It did this immediately 3 times (2 by Laurie and 1 by Mike) and later a long diagonal above the “m” in Schmidt.
On to the second pass. Well you can see here it did the same diagonal things again in the same spots. As I watched it cut, there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason it does what it does. it will cut the outline out around one letter… and the next one it does all the raster cuts before the outline.
then it was time to switch to the detail bit which was a 1/16" odd little bit… not a straight cut and not a typical upcut either… it didnt cut as clean. However it also behaved differently than the larger bit. when it was cuting between the letters, it would make a swipe then move above the work and then back down for the next swipe. with the roughing bit it would work that area (left and right) without raising. This seemed to make the detail work take longer than it needed (asside from the usual random moving around the work to do detail passes).
So it was done being cut and here it is after 3 coats of spray paint.
Overall i am really happy with the project. I think it came out well. Tooling marks with the raster look much more professional than the concentric in my opinion… you wouldnt imediately notice the diagnoal parts unless it was pointed out.
So, should you use the Raster function in Easel Pro? Yes. overall it works really well at clearing larger areas and looks good. if i were cutting this sign out as a negitive (cutting the letters out and not the background) then no i wouldnt use it. basically if there is a place in the design to use it then it should be used.
What would i like to see be improved. The method to the madness. Either cut ALL the outlines out first and then do ALL the Raster cutting OR cut ALL the Raster cuts and then do ALL the outlining. I think the mix of the 2 is going to provide an uneven end product. Seriously… as it was cutting it was really bothering me.
And some thoughts on PVC. I am a convert. I love it. cuts like butter and has a great finish. I am working on some other projects with it now and am really happy with it as a material. downside is the cost. a 4x8 sheet of 1/2" i think is about $98.00. So about 2x as expencive as a nice plywood. It wont replace all the wood projects but deffinately does has its place. The ease of finishing was outstanding.