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Find CAM software for a Roland milling machine

How to use DeskProto with a Roland CNC milling machine

Japanese machine builder Roland DG has been manufacturing desktop CNC milling machines since 1986.
DeskProto was one of the first CAM programs to recognize the potential of desktop CNC machining, and in 1995 Roland DG released an OEM version of DeskProto V1, called "DeskProto for CAMM-3" (Windows 3.1, delivered on two diskettes). Since that time DeskProto has kept supporting all Roland 3D milling machines.

Six machines all made by Roland
A few of the CNC milling machines that have been made by Roland DG.

Sending toolpaths to a Roland machine

A special feature for all Roland machines is that a Windows printer driver is used to communication with the PC. Roland machines are the only milling machines that we know about using a printer driver. For DeskProto this means that it can send the toolpaths directly to the machine. This in contrast to most other machines, where an NC file needs to be saved first, which has to be opened in the machine's control software.

In order to make this direct output possible, the NC output device in DeskProto needs to be correctly configured: this page will explain how this can be done.

Screenshot DeskProto Preferences
Configuring the Roland JWX-10 as output device in the DeskProto Preferences.

Step 1: the Roland driver that came with your machine needs to have been installed. You can download that from the Roland DG website.
Step 2: in DeskProto you need to select the correct Roland machine from the list of machines (the machine is one of the Part parameters).
Step 3: open the DeskProto Preferences (Options menu) and go to tab "NC Output". On this tab page you can select a Destination for 'Send NC-program to machine'. In the drop-down menu, select "Printer driver". Then press the Setup button to select your machine as "printer". See the illustration above.
Make very sure not to select a 'normal' printer here as that may result in many pages being printed.
For some old Roland machines it is also possible to select an LPT port or COM port instead of a printer driver.

After configuring an NC Output device (like you just did), two extra commands in DeskProto will have become available (that were disabled before):
  • Create > Extra > Send NC-program file to machine...
  • Create > Extra > Send current toolpaths to machine...
After each of these two commands an extra dialog will follow, allowing you to prepare your machine to receive the data. You need to have fixtured a block of material, have loaded the correct cutter and have set the workpiece zero point at the correct location. If all is done you can press OK in DeskProto: the machine then will start executing your toolpaths.

Screenshot Roland printer driver
Find the Roland VPanel (Operation panel) in the Printing Preferences of the Roland driver.

Setting the workpiece zero point for most Roland machines (except the oldest) needs to be done using the VPanel software, which is a part of the Roland Printer driver. Easiest is to make the VPanel program accessible via a shortcut on your desktop. This can be done in the Printing Preferences, see the screenshot above.

DeskProto or the Roland CAM software?

Roland machines are all delivered with a Roland software suite, including a 3D CAM program (either Modela Player or SRP Player). These two programs are similar to DeskProto: they offer STL file machining, and are targeting users without CNC experience.

For many users the Roland CAM software will indeed be all they need. Still, other users after some projects will feel hindered by the limitations of these programs. For instance that they cannot handle large STL files (say above 50 MB), and that very long calculation times may be needed. DeskProto also offers extra features that will be interesting, like the various strategies, the freeform segment, the reduced feedrate options, and much more.
If you have a Roland machine: feel free to evaluate DeskProto by downloading the free edition !

Two of the Tutorial videos on the DeskProto website feature a Roland machine, both being jewelry videos.
The 123WaxRing video shows a JWX-10, and the JWX30 video of course shows a JWX-30.
Roland machines are also shown on Gallery projects Timer knob (a very old project, this picture of the Roland PNC-3000 was taken in 1994) and Candy Coin (Roland MDX-540).