Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

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Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

Postby insohmniac » Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:54 pm

I hope my Subject line is better descriptive than it sounds, but to be honest I'm not sure how to describe this in the limitations of Subject line characters.

So, I have this idea and I don't know if it's a gadget or if I would actually have to talk directly with Vectric for programming, but here it is:

Imagine I have a product, like, say, wooden plates in multiple sizes. Or whatever product - there are a million possibilities here. And what if, instead of having the customer tell me what pattern they want carved around the edges and then I design it (or they do via the Makers capability then bring it to me) and then I wander out into the shop and set my bits and lay my plate into my form to hold it in place and then load my job and cut it... What if it was more of a customer interactive experience?

Like, what if I have a closed booth with a dust collection system, soundproofed, and a plexiglass window with a touchscreen in front of it. Inside the booth I have my CNC with a bit already setup, and I have my form laid out on my CNC table. Outside I have a very dummied down version of Vcarve that is locked to do exactly a very limited number of things. There is a plate template loaded on the screen and the customer has the ability to use the touchscreen to select 6 or so edge designs that all use the same bit (like a 60-degree V-bit), or maybe they can select from a limited number of fonts at a limited set of sizes with a limited number of characters based on the font size to have something written around the edge of the wooden plates. So they tell me what size plate they want, I walk into the booth and set that plate in the form and lock it into place. Then I come out, the customer uses the touchscreen and the limitations to create their own design then press a button and BAM! It starts carving right in front of their eyes. They get to design it, they get to see it being cut, they get to hold it when it's finished in a few minutes. Very Interactive. Kids are excited to do it, or adults with an idea in mind, whatever. They are part of the creation.

Yes, it's kitschy, but sometimes kitschy gets people in the door, brings around more traffic, gets you a few extra dollars and gets people involved and maybe even excited to do it again or tell their friends and family who also come to your shop and help spread the word about your kitschy interactive service or even get them interested or excited about getting into woodworking (or whatever medium is being cut) or CNC's.

Does that all make sense? Is there already a way to lock Vcarve down in this fashion (I haven't found it)? It would be nice if you could take a full working version of Vcarve then based on your medium and product set Vcarve up with the template and options you want then lock it down so the customer only sees the very few options and tools to create the job. Or am I talking crazy talk with my idea? Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

Postby mtylerfl » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:55 pm

Thinking you are going to have to be present at all times anyway - so why bother with a "special version" of the software?

Go ahead and make your "templates" and variety of font and design choices to choose from. Then have the customer sit down with you as you "assemble" the customized project.

Perform Toolpath previews for the customer to verify outcome, get customer to sign your approval document, then proceed to the machine and let the customer press "go".
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Re: Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

Postby insohmniac » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:06 pm

That is the simple solution, yes. But less "Fun", especially for a kid. My thinking is more along the lines of an automated Dog Tag inscriber that you might find in the entrance of a big store like Fred Meyer or Krogers or whatever it is wherever you live. As a poor example, but more or less similar, except that I, as the storefront owner, have to load the plate or keychain or vanity plate or whatever the product is then pull it out once it's done with the customers design.

In this scenario I'm not a big production shop, I'm a storefront with odds and ends who has a mostly hobby CNC in a shop in the garage out back and the only time I can get to that shop to do any CNC work is after I have closed the storefront, since it's just me watching and running everything. If I build my well-sealed, dust free-ish and mostly soundproof interactive CNC "box" as described above in a corner of my storefront with a VERY dummied down Vcarve interface to mostly let the customer be in charge of designing this thing, well, it is something that isn't found anywhere else around town and will hopefully drive some degree of traffic in my touristy area. That's the idea - let the customer be in charge of their very limited experience and minimal need for me - that way they don't have to feel pressured, it's an oddity, that kitsch, that degree of "Fun" (for lack of a better word) that gives an edge and a market. A small market, but for a storefront every penny counts. And no, I have no idea what the ROI is, but no one does with a new idea. At least I think it's new in the CNC market, but I could be wrong (though my limited research turned up nothing like this).

Yes, to some it sounds stupid, I'm sure. But no more stupid than those crane machines in the lobbies of big stores that people occassionaly cram money into to try and catch a stuffed toy for no other reason than they can and it exists. But there would be no "Fun" factor if you just walked up to the crane machine and asked some guy standing there to hand you a stuffed toy. It's a novelty item, nothing more. And the idea came about because I don't have a standard name and every place I go that has a keychain or pocket knife or novelty vanity license plate with common names on them NEVER, not ever once, has had my name, and unless you're one of the people like me with uncommon names you have no idea how disappointing that is. But this idea could solve that easily enough without the pre-planning and waiting. Just minimal effort and whatever it is you have your customer interactive CNC box setup for spits out your novelty item designed by you, average consumer. And if it's completely automated without the need for me whatsoever, then great! But I'd prefer to start out with a less expensive design before going straight for the gold, just to see if the design generates interest when I have it setup.

I'm sure I could find somebody to write a program to do exactly this, but I figured since Vectric already does CNC project design to the nth degree they'd be the best place to start. Whether it's a gadget or a complete program rewrite, I don't know. I'm not a programmer or I'd have taken care of this myself. So I figured I'd ask here.
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Re: Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

Postby mtylerfl » Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:29 am

Yes, insohmniac is a somewhat unusual name. I must admit I've never seen that on personalized items before either.

:D
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Re: Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

Postby insohmniac » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:53 am

Never, not ever! :D
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Re: Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

Postby vgraves » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:08 am

CNCRouterParts did something similar to this at one of the Maker Faires (I keep up with them because I have one of their CNC router kits). They have a traveling version of one of their smaller footprint machines and created a template within Autodesk's Fusion360 parametric 3D CAD program to allow kids to create their own Pinewood Derby car design, within certain limits of the template, cut it out on the router, and take it home with them.

http://www.cncrouterparts.com/custom-pinewood-derby-cars-p-402.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPB3RPLtSD8

Vectric's programs aren't parametric in nature, so this info isn't directly applicable. I agree with Michael that you would probably just have multiple fixed templates of parts the customer could pick from rather than allowing customization. I am just offering it as an example of what I understand you're trying to do.

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Re: Customer Facing Locked-Down Vcarve interface

Postby Bob Jr » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:36 am

Insohomniac,
I have been using a simplified version of what you describe at craft sales. I have a 12" X 12" capacity cnc in a completely enclosed clear Lexan box. The customer chooses between 4 different sized blanks. A blank is registered along a fence on the top and right edge. It's held against the fences with cam clamps. Z zero is in the center of the smallest blank. This is used for all blanks. You don't get a complete preview of the bigger pieces, but it doesn't seem to slow down the customers. Customers choose fonts, the correct blank vector box, and designs to engrave. The different sized boxes are used as vector boxes for engraving words. I have also used this method for demos at our local woodworking store. Setup time is minimal because only the cam clamps need to be moved for the different sized pieces. This is a great way to draw customers to our booth. It's fun to interact with people during the process, and it leads to the sale of other products. The same basic crv file is used for all signs.
I will try to attach the crv to this reply.
Play with it if it makes any sense to you.
Bob
one setup for 4 signs.crv
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hammer...nails...stuff
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