CAMel is a project to develop Rhino Grasshopper components for CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing). Hence the silly name. It is very much work in progress, but if you are brave enough, here is a first release. All images and the video on this page are of a machine running GCode generated by CAMel.

Download CAMel 0.12
Download Rhino file (only needed if you want to see the example setup).

At present the components are just clusters with scripted components written within Grasshopper. The next major step will be to convert this into a proper grasshopper plug-in. This release has a grasshopper component with some documentation (there is a little more inside the clusters). All the code is CC-BY-SA licensed, and of course it should be noted that this is very much “use at your own risk”! My belief is that Grasshopper provides a natural environment to experiment with creating your own toolpaths. The purpose of CAMel is to make this process as easy as possible by giving the tools to convert simple toolpath ideas into usable paths and then exporting the GCode that will drive a machine.

The main components are as follows:

  • GCode Writer: Converts lists of points, vectors and feed rates into GCode for the machine.
  • GCode Checker: Reads GCode and checks and optimises it. For example a 5-axis machine can usually obtain any tool angle in two different ways. This selects the better angle. It will also give warnings of undesirable behavior in the GCode.
  • Surfacing: Creates a toolpath to cut an arbitrary surface (very rough version, designed to test others)
  • Swarf cutting: Creates toolpath from information about the movement of the tip of the tool and the point in which the tool enters the surface. For a 5-axis machine these paths can be quite different.

The code is currently set up for a single machine, I am happy to try to help adapt it to other machines (other commitments allowing) so get in touch if you are interested.

These components and code were developed with Santiago R Perez 21st Century Chair of Integrated Practice at the Fay Jones School of Architecture, University of Arkansas. I work in the Mathematics Department at the same university.

Earlier experiments with swarf cutting.