Creating a Rotary Job

Z Origin

You have the choice of specifying if the tool is being zeroed on the center of the cylinder or the surface. When you are rounding a blank, you cannot set the Z on the surface of the cylinder, as the surface it is referring to is the surface of the finished blank. We would strongly recommend for consistency and accuracy that you always choose 'Center of Cylinder' when outputting wrapped toolpaths as this should always remain constant irrespective of irregularities in the diameter of the piece you are machining or errors in getting your blank centered in your chuck.


A useful tip for doing this is to accurately measure the distance between the center of your chuck and a convenient point such as the top of the chuck or part of your rotary axis mounting bracket. Write down this z-offset somewhere, and zero future tools at this point and enter your z-offset to get the position of the rotary axis center. Another reason for choosing 'Center of Cylinder' is that some controls will be able to work out the correct rotation speed for the rotary axis based on the distance from the center of rotation. If the Z value is relative to the surface, the control would need to know the diameter or radius of the cylinder at Z zero.

XY Origin

XY Drawing Origin - Here you can specify where the XY zero origin will be placed on your job. These options correspond to the same fields on the normal 'Job Setup' form within the program. Most people would use the default Bottom Left Corner, but for some jobs you may prefer to have the XY origin in the Center.

  • In a job with horizontal orientation (Along X Axis), the X offset will correspond to the length of the cylinder, and the Y offset will be a point along its circumference.
  • In a job with vertical orientation (Along Y Axis), it's the opposite. The Y offset will correspond to the length of the cylinder, and the X offset will be a point along its circumference.


Cylinder Orientation Along - This section is used to tell the program how you have your rotary axis aligned on your machine. If you've already made your design, but just want to change the job for a different machine, then you could flip your design with the material so that all the vectors and components stay the same relative to the job.

Z Origin On - This section determines whether the Z Origin is set to the surface of the material or the base (center of cylinder). These settings can be over-ridden when the toolpath is actually saved, but we would strongly recommend the 'Cylinder Axis' is selected for rotary machining. The reasons for this are detailed in the note below.

Vector Layout

As well as creating a job at a suitable size for wrapping toolpaths, when creating the job, it will create a number of vectors which can be very useful when creating your wrapped job.

The vectors are created on their own individual layers and by default these layers are switched off to avoid cluttering up your work area. To switch on the layers, display the 'Layer Control' dialog (Ctrl+ L is the shortcut to show / hide this). To show / hide the layer simply click on the check box next to the layer name.

2Rail Sweep Rails - This layer contains two straight line vectors which can be used to sweep a profile along if you are creating a shaped column.

Bounding Box - This layer contains a rectangular vector covering the entire job area. This vector is useful if you are going to machine the complete surface of the cylinder.

Choosing stock material

When setting-up rotary project, software assumes a perfect cylinder with an exact diameter. In practice the stock material may be uneven, or only blank with square profile may be available. In those cases blank needs to be machined into cylinder of desired size, before running toolpaths associated with the actual design.

Another consideration is length of the stock material. Typically, part of the blank will be placed within the chuck. It is also important that during machining, the cutting tool is always in safe distance from both chuck and tailstock. For those reasons, the blank has to be longer than the actual design. When setting-up the machine for cutting, one has to pay extra attention to ensure that origin is set accordingly to avoid the tool running into chuck or tailstock!

If the design was created without those considerations in mind, the blank size can always be adjusted in the Job Setup form.

The picture below presents an example of a rotary project layout. As explained above, the actual blank is longer than job defined in Aspire to allow for the chuck and sufficient gaps. The actual design is shorter than job defined in Aspire, to leave some space for tabs, that can be machined with the profile toolpath prior to removing the finished part from the chuck.

When machining 3D shapes with varying thicknesses like on the example shown below, it is a good idea to place the thicker end of the model on the side closest to the driving motor. This way torsional twisting will mostly affect the stronger end of the machined part and help to avoid bending or breaking of the part during machining.