New tool paths in Easel Pro save you time, money, and bits.

Oftentimes the shortest path between two points is the best path to take.

During our latest Easel Live Event we released optimized toolpaths, improved safety heights, ramping, and more—all features focused on helping you save time, prolong tool life, and make Easel even easier to use. Read on to find out more about these new features, and learn why we built them.

Customer feedback is the engine that drives product improvement. Easel Pro is no different. In talking with customers over the phone and Zoom, and reading the myriad of posts on Inventables Forum and Facebook groups, we learned that user experience with toolpaths left much to be desired.

When V-carving complex carves with V-bits—the most popular Easel Pro feature—the bit sometimes seemed like it had a mind of its own. It would move from one corner of the workspace to another, and then back again. Most of the time, the bit would be spinning in the air wasting precious time. As you can see in this image, there’s a lot of green lines crossing over the material. Each of those green lines is a rapid motion where the bit retracts and moves to another part of the design to continue carving. These seemingly random movements can lead to unnecessarily long carve times.

One of the biggest challenges of running a small business is time management. Time spent finishing, making that next sale, or shipping product is time well spent. Wasted time = wasted money. Less time spent on a carve means you can produce more carves in a day and sell more products to more customers.

With this in mind, we set out to fix a complex problem with toolpaths

We made 2 major upgrades in the way toolpaths work. Specifically, we improved the heuristics for ordering how we carve a design.

The cleanup pass, which deals with the last bit of material removed in V-Carving
The “nearest neighbor” solution, which allows for the bit to carve parts of the design near each other and prevents the dreaded “wandering”

So, with these solutions, how much time would be saved carving a project? Well, take a look at these before and after images, and then take a guess how much time was saved

                                      BEFORE                                                                 AFTER

In this project, the time savings was nearly an hour and a half! This represents about a 20% reduction in carve time from the optimized toolpaths. As you can see, the amount of rapid moves, represented by green lines, was substantially reduced.

But we didn't stop there...

In addition to the toolpath optimizations we made other improvements to solve customer problems:

We improved how safety heights work in Easel, allowing users to set a specific height for start/stop and a different height for carving. This allows more clearance for using clamps, and at the same time, saves time by making carves shorter with less retract time. We thought this was so important that we made it free for all users of Easel. 

Building on the improvements with the new Safety Heights, we made a fundamental change to the way Retracts work in Easel (Read more about G-Gode) by swapping the G1 to a G0 and making the Z-Axis retract at the maximum speed (500 mm/min for X-Carve)

With all three of these improvements combined, we saw some impressive improvements from customers who were lucky enough to test these new features early.

                       OLD TOOLPATHS                                           NEW TOOLPATHS

Ethan Kinney of Charred Chisel made this BlackHawk Sign and saved 30+ mins of carve time. This allows for 2-3 more signs per day, with his 3 X-Carve Machines, up to $800/day additional profit. 

With faster carving comes better previews

Using the detailed preview and simulating carve times is critical to most people’s workflow. We heard from customers that having more control over the simulations would be useful for seeing any issues with the carve before they get cut—or even for sending previews or renderings to clients. 

  • Toolpath Visualizations toggles allow you to turn on and off toolpaths and material
  • Bit/Tool Preview in Simulation allows you to see where the bit is moving
  • Uncut Area Warnings indicate areas which are too small in the design for the bit to fit and these will not get cut. 
  • Best of all, this is free for all users

Taking the plunge - and ramping things up

On top of all the improvements to toolpaths and simulations, we decided to build a solution to one of the biggest problems customers faced—vertical plunging of bits into material. 

We have all broken bits, or burned up bits, or even burned wood or melted plastic from vertical plunges. To solve this problem, the bit should be able to move sideways while also moving down. This is the basic element of a ramp move

With ramping in Easel Pro, you can prolong the life of your bits and get much better results with carving. Ramps for hard materials should be shallow, and ramps for soft materials can be steeper. We designed two options for ramping in Easel to accomplish this. 

  • 5 Degree ramp for hardwoods, hard plastics and metals
  • 20 Degree ramp for softwoods, soft plastics and foams
  • Vertical plunge for drilling with drill bits (no end mills)

One more thing - your chance to win!

Our community is one of the most powerful parts of Inventables— a welcoming place to help each other, give advice, and support. 

At our last live event, we announced the Pro Design contest, whose winner was Judah Mills with this amazing science fair project. He used The Pro Design library to find images of a brain.

And to continue to showcase the creativity of our talented community, today we are kicking off a V-Carving Contest

We are giving away another X-Carve! The first place winner will win a free X-Carve or 1 Year of Easel Pro, plus $100 in materials and bits from Inventables. Additionally, prizes will also be going to 2nd and 3rd places. You can read more about all the rules and contest details here: 

V-Carving Design Challenge So to recap, this week we released new functionality focused on helping you save time, prolong tool life, and make Easel even easier to use. We have a lot planned for Easel in the next few months and years, so stay tuned to our Forum, read your Inventables emails, reach out to us with any questions, feedback, or ideas—and most importantly—have fun carving!
CNC you later!
Ben Saks,
Sr Software PM - Easel


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