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GBIC >> VB >> Hardware >> Roland 3D Mill
br>3D Mill
Note: This page does not have the approval of Roland!

If all you want is to design and fabricate your product concepts, then head on over to the MDX-3 home page. The MDX-3 is a $995 3D mill and includes free software to design and fabricate virtually any 3D shape. But, if you're a VB programmer and you want to know how to create and use your own applications with the Roland MDX-3 3D mill, then read on!

Overview Free Software Designs VB Interface Application


Overview

    First of all, let's get the bad news out of the way. The MDX-3 costs $995, it can only mill 3D objects out of soft materials such as plastic and balsa wood - no metals, and the finished product must fit within a 6"x4"x1.6" envelope! If those three facts don't discourage you, then it's smooth sailing the rest of the way!

    Here's the really good news. The MDX-3 measures only about one foot on a side and weighs only 15 pounds. That means that it can fit on most desktops, right next to your PC. The interface to the MDX-3 is through a parallel port, and may be used without interfering with your normal printing.

    If these features haven't caught you, then you should also know that the MDX-3 is relatively quiet (your wife won't send you to the garage to do your work), and comes with debris shields to prevent you from coating your desktop with particles every time you use it!


Free Software

    We'll come to the VB stuff later, but for you impatient types, the MDX-3 comes with a free suite of software - all you need to create your own 3D designs. Additionally, the software has several import features which allow you to do your designs on more familiar software, then import it into the MDX-3 software for final touchup prior to milling.

    Software included with the MDX-3 is:

  • 3D Engrave - 3D relief model generation
  • Virtual MODELA - simulates 3D models and estimates machining time
  • MODELA Player - DXF/STL import
  • MODELA 3D DESIGN - Design using existing shapes as baseline
  • MODELA 3D Text - Convert True Type font into 3D relief
  • Dr. Engrave - Import Excel/CSV data for engravings

Samples

    Here are some of the designs that have come off the MDX-3. Some are courtesy of the Roland company, and some are my own creations.

  • Image1
  • Image2
  • Image3

VB Interface

    You will remember that I mentioned the import capabilities of the free MDX-3 software? Well, that's the approach we will need to take for now. The sample application I provide below shows how this can be done.

    To support your own VB applications, the Roland company has also agreed to document the API interface to the MDX-3. With that in hand, you'll be free to create applications which directly interface to the MDX-3

  • Sample VB Application