Before You Buy A CNC Router
This is a question that can be answered in many ways.
Use A Premade Design
The easiest way to get a project made on the CNC is to buy a design that is already done for you. You can find many for free on the internet, but a few VERY good commercial options for 2D and 3D designs are:
- www.makecnc.com – Excellent selection of puzzles and other creative projects.
- www.designandmake.com – Very high quality 3D projects that can be reworked into hundreds of different possibilities.
- www.thingiverse.com – large selection of free 3D designs. Most are for 3D printing but many will work with a CNC as well.
- https://woodgears.ca/gear_cutting/template.html – Gear designer
- http://www.vectric.com/cool-stuff/projects.html – 2D and 3D high quality project files
- www.cnccraze.com – many project files
Bitmap Image Trace
Another option that is no as easy as just buying a file or downloading something that has been already designed, but is still easier than designing something from scratch, is to import an image or logo (i.e. from Google Images) and use the Image Trace feature in Vectric to create a vector from the bitmap image. Once it has been converted into a vector, you can assign tool paths to it and proceed to cut out on your CNC.
Another way to convert your bitmap images to vectors is to use the site (or software) https://vectormagic.com/. The online version of their program works very well and returns a vector that has excellent quality.
The following video shows you how to use Vectric’s Image Trace feature
Design Your Own
Sometimes you can not get exactly what you are looking to create from an online source that is pre-made, so you must turn to making your own design. This is not as scary as it sounds, especially if you are looking to cut out simple things like letters, signs, etc. The CAD (or design) part of Vectric programs make this easy. Cut 2D and V Carve have a design component to their software and you can quickly and easily design many different projects and then switch to the CAM part of the program to create the tool paths and output the G Code to the CNC.
You can also create vector designs with programs like Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator, or if you need something designed to very specific dimensions, you can use a CAD program like Fusion 360 or Sketchup.
Hire Someone To Design For You
There are many outsourcing websites on the internet where people are looking for design work. You will be find many very talented people from all around the world and many (depending on the country) are willing to work for very reasonable rates.
www.upwork.com is one site where you will be able to post your job and have people bid on the project. You can read up on the applicant, discuss specifics and finally hire the person who best meets your needs.
You can go on websites like www.cnczone.com or the Facebook Group CNC Router Tips and put a post up with what you are looking to have designed and more often than not, you find people who are willing to do your design for a small fee (if not for free)
If all else fails, then contact the manufacturer of your CNC machine and ask them if they can help with the design or if they know anyone who you could contact.
YouTube is also a good source to find how-to videos that can show you how to make your designs or how to use various software programs.