Hello, After spending a complete evening searching for a solution to my problem, I have to ask this here.
I'm looking for a way to create letters in Solidworks as single lines. This is for engraving purposes. It would probably be possible to do it inside the milling program, but I can't use that here, and I want to complete the job on this computer.
So apparently everybody has a different name for it (here goes): Centerline font Stick fonts Single-line fonts Monotype fonts (?) Stroked fonts etc. etc. However, i CANNOT find anything useful for Solidworks. Very frustrating! I have Adobe Illustrator, so if anyone has a solution where I need another vector program (I already know what to do to import Illustrator in Solidworks.... Just make sure there are no curves with corners, I cut them all u manually).
All true type fonts are filled (double line). SW only supports true type, ASSumeing that people will allways want to extrude them as features. It never occured to them that people would want to do simple center line engraving on tools and such.
Another problem is that 3D curve data is only supported for IGES output. Personally, I don't use IGES anymore, STEP and Parasolid being much more accurate, and less problamatic. I suppose if you were using an integrated CAM program, like Camworks or Solidcam it would be usefull. I use Mastercam and It's just too easy to slap an engravable font on a surface to worry about it.
I do have a really thin font that I've used occaisionally that works pretty good. You just progam half of it (open contour). If you size it right, and use the correct offset, it looks pretty good. It's on my work comp., so I can't post the name until Tuesday
Ok, I'm gonna be more specific, because it might clear a lot of things up. I want to make a mold for small chocolate letters, like scrabble tiles with the letters "lying" on top (I know these exist as candy you get for christmas). So it shouldn't be just text, I want it to be good looking aswell (I know the limits of CAM, but it could be better).
At first I made a model in solidworks, using imported "Arial" outlines from Illustrator. Then I gave the letters the same radius as the tool, just resembling what it would look like after the milling. That gave me so many problems I decided I was gonna try a centerline-font.
The CAM-program we use is called VX, fairly new to the market
for those interested). I *could* use the text option inside VX, but it's not pretty. It's just not made for good looking text/letters, just for, well, engraving :o). These letters are not made of curves, but polylines, very "angular" if you get what I mean.
So, bottomline, I want to be able to control the shape of my letters, but not limit myself to ugly polyline letters. It's also very hard to position them properly inside VX (AND solidworks, I just *need* the align function in Illustrator). All in all, I not sure if I'm doing it the right way, using these 3 programs to get such an "easy" looking result.
I think I see what your trying to do. You want to use a "decorative" font, but when you try to write a contour toolpath, it comes out "faceted" ???
True type font feature boundaries (emboss/deboss) are represented by NURBS splines inside SW. This is carried over to the translated out put (IGES, X_T, etc.)
What mostt CAM systems do (by defualt) is linearize (make polylines) out of these features using G01 (line, point to point) moves. This results in a faceted (ugly) contour. Some very expensive controls can cut smooth NURBS, but it also requires special code from the CAM system.
I'm not familiar with VX's CAM capabilities, so I'm going to tell you how I work around this in Mastercam, VX may have similar functions.
The easiest is "arc fitting". When ever I program a 2D spline I'm presented with the option of filtering the toolpath, by a chordal tolerence that I choose, and having the system fit tangent arcs G02-G03 in place of the linear moves. Another way is to convert the NURBS geometry itself into a chain of tangent arcs (again to a chosen tolerance) and generate the tool path from the result. Both of these methods result in smooth paths.
If VX doesn't have these features, you should at least be able to control the tolerance of the linear moves. Depending on the size of the font, you want to set the chordal error real small. Also, you want to make sure you have "in position check" turned off in the control. This is a G8 on Fadal, other controls use different codes. If this function is on, the machine will pause at every intersection.
If the letters are not planar, you're stuck with point to point. 3 axis VMC's can't interpolate arcs that aren't orthagonal to the three primary planes.
If none of this is any help, send me the file. I'll convert the NURBS to arcs and send you an IGES wireframe.
There are 2 approaches, each with its set of problems:
1) import your text in a sketch as "line font" then fillet sharp angles and do many sweeps of your mill profile along the letters. I made an add-in to do this automatically, but it is not available anymore until I arrange this with my new employeer. The remaining problem is to make rounds at the ends of lines.
2) If your profile is a V, it is easier to find a font that correecponds to a "thickened" line font : constant width and round caps. The best I found is "isocpeur" which comes with Adesk products (...) then extrude it with an angle. However, you usually can't do a perfect V groove this way because arcs in TrueType font are actually splines, and font designers didn't care too much about segment tangencies, so you might need to "Dissolve" the text and correct some parts of the letters contours manually. Here again, I made a macro that does all this automatically, which *might* be available again in a few weeks.
Marc, First of all, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your (extensive!) help in this. I know my Solidworks pretty well, but I guess this is quite a different appraoch to the matter.
The problem (I think) with VX is, that it is a modeller + CAM program in one. I tried to use the modeller, but it's just not advanced enough for me, hardly any options for fillets, lofts etc etc (the 'difficult' features, programming wise). So they put *all* of the 'modelling' functionality into the CAD part of the program. No problem usually, it's all within the same program and you can switch between the model interface and the cam interface very easily. But that means I can't insert any 'text paths' either. I *have* to do it inside the modeller, and then use that path as a 'profile cut', creating a tool path out of the paths I have. These paths are already faceted, and apparently there's no arc fitting function inside the program. Apart from that, the font is not that pretty either.
The problem is not just smoothness, or just pretty letters, it's all combined. I tried creating a wild bezier curve inside illustrator, exporting it as dwg. I imported that in VX, and there was no faceting at all! But that wouldn't make the task much easier. What I think I'm gonna do is the following: painstakingly I will create a centerline version of every letter of a nice font (creating the appropriate curves by using circles as a reference), exporting those curves to dwg and then importing in vx.
This has no longer anything to do with Solidworks itself. I just thought it would be possible to prepare everything in Solidworks, so that I wouldn't have to go into the modeller. Apparently this is not really possible, and I'll have to come up with a different solution. Ah, well.
Thanks again for your help Marc, but I guess the problem is not with the milling program (toolpath tolerances are easily set inside VX), and neither with Solidworks, the solution probably lies in Illustrator, and hard curve-labour :o).
If you (Marc) find this problem interesting, you can email me (just reverse my emailaddress, so that the first part would be "chocolade"), and I will keep you informed about the progress!
The last time I saw VX was about a year and a half ago. We spent most of the time looking at the things that SW had problems with, like applying tangent conditions to two adjacent surfaces. I wasn't very impressed with the CAM, or the out put quality of STEP or IGES.
So,, I'm a bit confused. You can't model it "real world" in SW and import it for CAM ??
SW creates very clean geometry. The translators are very good too. I only ask this because it's something I do all the time. I try to keep models, and assemblies, of tools representing the real world. The curve data should come into VX as true splines through IGES, STEP or Parasolid. Even if you create the curves in another program, you should be able to import them into SW to sweep the profiles. The boundary curves of the profiles (not a font) should import into VX cleanly for machining.
I dunno,,, maybe I'm missing something, but it just seeems like you're doing this the hard way.
Well, that's the way it is, it's not like I have any other option, because the workshop I will create the molds at just installed a brand new CAD/CAM system and they decided to go for VX.
I don't really understand what your question is now (or even what you mean by modelling "real world"), but I have found a solution and I will explain how I do it now:
I used a TTF I found that's a bit corrupt, but usefull with a little magic :o). It's the Sans Serif found at
That font is not a true TTF, because TTF cannot handle single lines. However, when I opened it up in Corel Draw, disabeling font fills showed me the lines, after converting the letters to curves, I only needed to remove some lines that were created because of the fills, and I could tweak it further in Illustrator (I don't work a lot with Corel Draw and the version I have is quite old). Which was needed, because some characters were really ugly, not the shape, but the curves itself where not properly done sometimes. After finishing this I had a complete set of characters as curves inside Illustrator. I was also able to import these straightly into VX, and use these as a toolpath! Using cutters with the right diameter will give me the results I want. That way I don't need to worry about sweeps or anything. As for the rest of the mold, that's an extremely easy model, basically just boxes with fillets, and it just as easily done in VX. That's what I meant by saying it's not an SW-problem anymore, I don't need SW any longer! If the shapes would have been more complicated, I would definately have used SW but in this case it would only have given me more problems, because the import option of DWG is not very good in SW (2003).
Anyway, thanks for your help, and if anyone has any problems like mine in the future, feel free to contact me, HTH! :o)
We use camworks here. We ran across this issue when we first went to it. We found a single line font that we now use for engraving. If you could email me your decoded email address I could send you the true type font that we use.
I agree on computer power. Sometimes, however, you want total control over text font, size and character widths and I have used TrueType fonts for that, but it typically takes a bold Poster type font to make it work.
I had searched some of the Type sellers online and picked VAG Rounded (which comes from Volkswagen's design) and bought it in a couple flavors and use the bold version.
I just tried to put on a couple lines of type on 2 3D surfaces in solidworks and the model went from 3 megs to 18 megs with the text. But it has given good results when the electrode is cut and then burned into the cavity plates. I don't do the machining, however. I've left that to various toolmakers.
(OT) Nice to see you use VAG Rounded. That particular font was designed for technical drawings in the old days, when people used stencil plates for big letters. It was rounded to make the tracing easier. VAG Rounded is a pretty font in it's kind.