Easel Live: Easel CNC Software
Inventables’ Easel Live series is run by one of our resident CNC experts and community manager Brandon Cullum. The Easel Live Events provide CNC users an opportunity to learn about CNC software, designing as well as tips and tricks to be more efficient with CNC projects.
When you tune into the live events, you can ask questions and participate with other CNC enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. We have great participation from our community members who offer advice in addition to the information Brandon shares.
In this recording of an Easel Live event, Brandon takes us through the basics of the Easel CNC software, touching on some differences between Easel and Easel Pro such as V-carving, machine parking, and the enhanced graphics library to name a few.
In the first 30 minutes of the Easel 101 session, Brandon discusses some basics of CNC carving & software as well as how to set up and use Easel.
What you will take away from the video:
How to more efficiently use Ease/Easel Pro
How to access and apply shapes & fonts to create unique designs
Understand the basics of CNC software
Applying what Brandon shares will allow you to make it through your projects more efficiently and add more value to the projects, translating into higher margins.
For a quick overview, we’ll go through some highlights of the first part of the video. When you have some time, it is well worth watching the entire video.
CNC software, some nerdy & important stuff
G-Code is software and machine agnostic. So, you can export your G-code from Easel to use in other CNC software to operate on other machines.
Graphic designs created in Easel, or other design software, can be exported as SVG files. SVG is a common graphics code that lets a designer work in various design software packages and then export the design to be imported into other software. The advantage of this is that you can create a design software that you are already familiar with, then bring them into the CNC software for carving.
Easel CNC Software
Easel is a CAD/CAM software (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) that lets you design projects and also translates those designs into G-code to direct your CNC machine. You can import designs from other CAD software, create an original design in Easel, or do a combination of both. Easel is flexible in this regard.
From its inception, the focus for Easel is to provide an easy-to-use CAD interface overlaying very powerful CAM capabilities. As with any software, there are tips and tricks that can help you be more efficient with Easel. Following are some of the tips highlighted in Brandon's session.
CNC Machine Settings in Easel
On the top menu, you will see “Machine”. This is used to set the dimensions of the CNC machine on which you will be working. By setting the correct dimensions, Easel will be able to render the work bed properly in the software, and ensure the carving instructions sent to the CNC machine are within the carvable area.
Work Bed in Easel
When you are working on a project, you will see two areas on the left-hand side. The white area, or grid, is the dimension of your project. The lighter blue area is the dimension of your work bed. Be sure to have the dimensions of the work bed properly set under the “Machine” option in the top nav (mentioned above).
On the right side, you’ll see the simulation of the project. This is really useful, providing a 3D preview of what the project will look like once carved. In addition to the 3D rendering, you’ll see the tool paths in this area. This is the path the CNC Machine will take to carve the project. A quick visual reference will let you know if you should review the bit choices and speed setting.
Working with carving bits
Generally, the straight bit is used for removing larger areas of material and is a straight ‘down’ carve. The detail bit, as you might guess, is used to add a detail or features to the carve. In this case, Brandon is using a v-bit.
The bit options are added to the bit section of the Easel software. If you order bits directly from Inventables, their information can be imported into Easel’s bit section. A bit can also be added manually to this section. To manage and use v-bits, be sure you have the Easel Pro version.
Upcut bits are used to carve out a larger area where you want the bottom to be smoother.
The top cut bits make the upper part of the cut smoother.
Basics of creating a design in Easel
Brandon takes you through adding text and shapes to your project. There are a lot of fonts in the free font library that comes with Easel. If you want, you can step up to the Pro version to get a crazy number of fonts.
In addition to fonts, Easel Pro has a large library of shapes. When you import a shape, you have to decide if you want the entire shape carved (displayed as completely filled in with gray), or an outline (outlined in gray). Using the 3D rendering on the right side of the screen will help you make design decisions without having to carve your material. So, you can view the project with different variations of the shapes to see which works best.
The fonts and the shapes in Easel can be scaled easily. Everything is drag and drop, then drag an edge to scale the size. Super simple.
A really neat aspect if the Easel software is the “Workpiece” area. You can create a copy of your project within the same file, and it is saved in the “Workpiece” area on the bottom of the screen. This workpiece remains intact as you continue to edit your project. As you continue with your work, adding or changing shapes, you can compare them to the save workpieces and decide which approach you
like best. This is an easy way to compare different versions of an idea.
Simplicity and ease are key attributes of the Easel software. Adding customization to projects increases the value. But, if it takes too much time to make the designs unique, the added value is offset by the time it can take to execute. By maintaining power while making it easier to execute, Easel lets you work efficiently and add more to the bottom line.
We’ve covered about half of what Brandon shared in Easel 101. It is well worth watching the entire video to gain more tips and tricks to make your work with CNC more efficient. To view more Easel Live events, visit our YouTube Playlist. We will continue to conduct Easel Live events where you can ask questions and provide feedback. Subscribe to the playlist to keep updated.