It is a good practice to verify your cut files before running them so that you can be sure it is going to go as you expect it to. WAM will give you a good idea of how the cuts will be performed, but I always like to ensure that the WAZER is being told to cut exactly what I want it to.
A good way to verify your files before cutting is a .gcode visualizer, these programs will show you exactly what the .gcode file is telling the machine to do. In these programs you can check dimensions, ensure that all of your features are going to be cut, verify that the correct settings were chosen, and more.
The visualizer we use most often in-house is a website called ncviewer.com. This website is very easy to use, simply load in your file by clicking on the Folder icon. This will pull up the text of the .gcode file on the left side of the screen and a visual representation of what the .gcode is telling the machine to cut.
NOTE: Its very important that the text on the left side of the screen is not changed or edited in anyway. The order of these commands is critical to ensuring the cut takes place as expected, DO NOT edit the text in the .gcode file at all! We cannot be sure how edited .gcode will run on the WAZER.
One thing I always make sure to do before inspecting a file is change the view so we are looking at it from the correct perspective. When working with files generated in WAM the feature should be in the bottom right quadrant. To change your view use the rotating box in the top right corner of the web page. Clicking on the faces of the box will change your view of the file, first click on the face shown below, then click onto the final viewing face. This will give you a top-down view of the file.
A really cool feature of this tool is that you can “Play” the file and observe the path that the cut will follow. By selecting a line of code from the left side, a black dot will appear on your file at the exact position the gantry will be in at that point. From here you can press the Play button and the file will begin running. The black dot will move along the cutting paths, showing you the order that the cuts will be performed.
Files generated in WAM will include what we refer to as the metadata, this can be seen at the very top of the file before the actual .gcode begins. Opening the file and checking the metadata is a good way to make sure the proper settings were chosen. This is also good for when you find a file that you used previously but aren’t sure if it is set up properly for what you would like to cut. You can see the original file name, material choice, cut path choice, cut quality choice, and even the raw material size.
This tool can even be used for troubleshooting. If I experience a problem where a cut does not go as I thought it was going to, often the first thing I’ll do is check the .gcode to see what commands the WAZER was told. If the issue appears in the .gcode then we know that the WAZER is operating correctly and the file will need to be changed. If the issue does not appear in the .gcode then we know there is a different root cause to be found.
One thing that can be seen in the .gcode that cannot be seen in WAM is pierce points. WAM has an Autopierce feature that will convert small holes to pierce points when it knows the holes cannot be cut reliably. You can see more about this feature here!
In WAM it may look like a hole is being cut at the size it is drawn to, but if it is picked up by Autopierce you may not be able to tell. In ncviewer.com you will be able to see if a hole will be cut or if it will be pierced. This can be seen in the picture below, notice that the larger hole has a circular cutting path that the gantry will follow, the small hole above it is simply a pierce point and you can see that there is no cutting path.
When the part is cut this is what these holes will look like, the larger hole is cut to the dimensioned size and the smaller hole is about the size of the kerf.
I hope you all find this tool as useful as I do!