torstai 10. marraskuuta 2016

FrontPanelDesigner and HPGL

If you are designing frontpanels with FrontPanelDesigner ( as I am, here you have instructions how to save about 50% in the costs with grouping and HPGL. In my Prodigy-panel most of the engravings are done with 0.2 tool. The lines and bigger texts use 0.4 tool. Normally every engraving creates a new object, so your panel has many objects and the factory charges by objects. It's possible to group similar engraving objects to one HPGL-object, so eventually you have only two engraving objects (one for 0.2 and one for 0.4 tools) and the drilling holes.

1. When I am ready with the design, I save the design in FrontPanelDesigner to another file named Prodigy_tool02.fpd where I leave only the 0.2 engravings and delete all the other stuff. I also save the design to Prodigy_tool04.fpd file where I leave only 0.4 engravings. Third file that I save holds only all the drill holes. Make sure the origin in all these files is in the lower left corner!

0.2 engravings

0.4 engravings

drill holes
Here is the end result!

2. Export the tool02 and tool04 files to DXF files. Do not export the reference points!
3. Import these files to some CAD-tool that can read DXF-files and create HPGL-files. I use the free CadStd Lite-program ( In CadStd I leave only the gravings layer active and export only visible layers to a single pen HPGL-file.
4. In FrontPanelDesigner I open the drill holes file and select insert HPGL engraving. This activates a crosshair tool with which I click the origin (X:0.00 Y:0.00). Select the tool02 HPGL-file, set the tool to 0.2 width, select the color and click "Origin of HPGL file" and OK. Then I repeat this with the tool04 HPGL-file.
5. If you want to save more you can leave the in-fill color out. With this black panel the colorless engravings look very good. You can fill the engravings afterwards manually with Lacquer-Stick paintstick color from Micro-Tools (it is little bit messy but it works)

Panel is ready!

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