CNC 3D and 2D File Questions and Answers
Here are some of the questions we have received while ramping up to the 3D CNC file offerings and our responses:
Q: When I import your files (either 2D or 3D), the scale is not correct. What is the cause of this?
A: David creates all of our 2D and 3D files in millimeters. You will have to do one of two things. The easiest is to find out the enlargement factor and apply that to the import window in your particular. For instance when he exports a DWG file from his CAD program to be used in his modeling software, he needs to change the enlargement factor to 25.4 (for millimeters), or 2.54 (for centimeters). Some programs may require a 12 to 1 ratio as well or in lieu of the above conversion to change from feet to inches. Once you know the factor, you can set that as the default for our files and will not need to address this issue again.
Secondly, most programs can enlarge the file once it is imported. Just measure a known dimension in the file such as the scale of the fretboard, body length etc. compare it to the actual plan measurement and calculate the enlargement factor and enlarge the file information accordingly. and
Q: What plans are your CNC Plans based upon?
A: Our files are based directly from the PDF plans and 2D CNC Files that we offer. All dimensions reflect those files for each particular instrument.
Q: I want to buy a 3D CNC files to run solid body guitars. Some of the cavities and other routing operations need to be run of the from and back of the wood slab. How is this done:
A: While we don’t offer specific instructions on this because each machine and software handles this differently. Generally though, most technicians will use registration pins to locate the wood slab on a CNC sub-base to allow the project to be flipped after routing the top and having perfect registration when routing the backside of the body.
Q: I want to install different hardware on my instrument other than those specified on your PDF plans. Will your 3D plans accommodate these changes?
A: As indicate above our files are based upon the plans and files above. While a lot of hardware is standardized, if is best for you to check the dimensions of your hardware to be sure. Minor modifications can be made with 3D editing software. We do not offer editing changes as part of the file support.
Q: I want to run a 3D arch top for a Les Paul or other arch top instrument. Will your files give me a smooth arch for the top?
A: Yes. All of our arch top files are constructed using NURBS objects or as SubD object, which are very smooth and should provide a project that required minor shaping and finish sanding. In the case of hollow body instruments, we will attempt the replicate the instruments thickness variations intent, but final tuning is usually required due to the different nature of tone woods.
Q: What are the 3D CNC Files and how do they differ from 2D CNC files?
A: 2D CNC Files are just as the name Implies, they are 2 dimensional only and do not contain any 3D information. The 2D files are exported in both DXF and DWG files, which are standard input and export options for most every CAD and modeling software.
In the 3D world, we deal with 3 planes. The X and Y planes that are used in the 2 dimensional world, with the addition of the Z plane or the depth factor.
Q: I like your neck profiles, but I would like to change the shape slightly. Can I do this with your files?
A: All of our necks feature a very close replication to the neck sections depicted on our PDF plans. If you wish to make a variation to the neck profile, you can run the neck and make the slight variations by hand. If you wish to make actual changes to the 3D geometry, you will need a file format that you can edit in a 3D modeling program. We can write our files into several program formats. Please contact us for additional information on this.
Q: I want to run guitar bodies, necks, bracing etc. on my CNC. Can I do this with 2D CNC files?
A: 2D CNC files are intended to be modified by the end user to add the depth information such as pickup pockets, wiring channels, stud holes etc. These type of operations are considered 2-1/2D, because you are just adding a cutting depth.
Other more complex shapes such as necks, arm and waist reliefs and other complex shapes have to be added by using a 3D editing program such as Rhino, 3D Studio, FormZ, Modo, Solidworks, or some of the more complex CNC programs such as Vectric’s Aspire.
Q: What do i receive if I order a 3D CNC File?
A: We offer our 3D CNC Files in a wide variety of variations. In other words if you just want to run a neck on your CNC machine, you will be able to order just the 3D neck file and are not required to purchase the entire instrument file. We will be offerings our files as follows: (Note this can vary depending on the guitar, bass or other instrument).
Hollow Body Acoustic Instruments:
1. Top and all associated bracing.
2. Back bracing, included arched bracing
3. Head block, with neck mortise, and tail blocks, side reinforcing bracing.
4. Neck, heel, headpiece, truss rod slot and truss rod access. Also, tenon for neck joint. Some neck will include a dovetail joint option as well.
5. Headpiece decorative plate (if required for guitar model), including tuner and bushing holes.
6. Pickguard, bridge, with bridge pin tapered holes, pin relief and saddle slot
7. Fretboard, showing fretboard radius, fret tang slots, MOP inlay slotting and binding for fretboard perimeter if shown.
Electric Guitars and Basses:
1. Guitar Body, showing electronics cavities, pickup cavities, wiring channels where applicable, neck recess, neck attachment bolts holes, tremolo cavities, string access holes where required, pot holes, arm and waist relief in certain guitar models, all edge rounding at guitar edges and bridge and tailpiece stud holes.
2. Archtop plate for certain models such as the Les Paul or EVH guitars.
2. Bracing (for hollow body instruments), such as the L5 or 355ES or our upcoming Benedetto hollow bodies.
3. Neck including heel, headstock shape, with tuner post and bushing holes, and if required, truss rod slot and adjusting nut access . Also all smoothing for neck to heel and neck to headpiece transitions.
4. Fretboard, including radius, fret slots and inlay patterns. Fretboard binding if shown.
5. Pickguards, including pot holes, screw holes, and pickup holes. Also cover plates will be included with this file, such as truss rod covers, electronics cover plates, tremolo covers and other miscellaneous plates.
6. Fretboard, showing fretboard radius, fret tang slots, MOP inlay slotting.
Q: What 3D formats are offered in your 3D CNC plans?
A: The most common format that is used by CNC tooling software is the STL format, and that is the standard formatting of our files.
Q: What equipment and software do I need to run your 3D software?
A: Your CNC machine is required to run in 3 axis (XY and Z). This will work for most of the files. Some of the files will require a 4 axis machine to run more complex shapes where the router head is required to turn in the 4th axis. Examples of this requirement would be sloped tuner holes bored on a sloped peg head, or undercutting certain shapes such as a heel that tapers inward between the heel cap and the fretboard surface.
Q: Will I be able to run these files directly on my CNC equipment?
A: This will be machine dependent. Usually you will need a CNC program to load the file and setup your tool paths and bit changes. Programs such as Aspire, and 3D Cut from Vectric, or MeshCAM from GRZ Software are examples of this. If you cannot find this information for your software, you may need to contact your software technical support. The STL format should work for most software, as this is the industry standard 3D exporting format.
Q: Can I edit this 3D files to make changes to meet my particular requirements?
A: As a standard, we offer our 3D CNC files in STL format, which cannot be edited. If you wish to have files that are capable of being edited, we can write our files into many difference 3D formats such as 3D Studio, SolidWorks, FormZ and many others. Also, we are able to write the files into generic 3D format such as 3D DWG or IGES files. This conversion would be a small extra cost to you. Please contact us for more information.
Q: Do I need both of your 3D files and 2D files?
A: This depends what your intent for the files are. Let’s say you want to run a Stratocaster Body and would like the standard 3D file as supplied by us. If you want to reconfigure the neck to change the shape of the neck or form your own headpiece shape, you may want to start with or 2D files and create the neck in your 3D editing program.
Q: Do I have to include your standard PDF instrument plans as part of my order?
A: For the 3D files no. For the 2D files yes. If you are ordering 3D files, you certainly want the plan for the instrument part you are ordering because the 3D files does not include any dimensional information that you can print out and refer to. Also our PDF plans will give you more information about how all the pieces and parts fit together.
Q: Do you offer discounts for ordering all the associated 3D files for a certain instrument?
A: Yes if you with the entire package, there is a discount. That will be detailed on the sales page for each instrument. Also, if you desire both 3D and 2D files, we will offer discounts for that also.
Q: Can I have you make changes to a file to meet my specifications?
A: That will be strictly project specific. Pricing would be at an hourly rate, or a fixed lump sum. If it is a change that would allow us to add a new model or a model variation that could be placed on our site, the price would reflect a credit for that. Also, David’s time is quite often at a premium as he runs an architectural office and at times the lead time could be several weeks out.