Tech Tuesday: Understanding the Right-Hand Rule and the Cartesian Coordinate System

Posted May 28, 2019 5:04 pm   Published by    BobCAD-CAM ">

Tech Tuesday is a weekly blog that addresses some of the most common questions and concerns that I hear throughout the previous week from users of BobCAD’s CNC software. Both customers and future customers are more than welcome to leave a comment on what they would like to see covered for the following Tech Tuesday. If you missed last week’s Tech Tuesday, click here.

Today’s article focuses on understanding the Right-Hand Rule as it relates to the Cartesian Coordinate system. The Right-Hand Rule is a method used to remember the orientation and directions of the axes in the Cartesian Coordinate System in 3-dimensional space.

cnc software right-hand rule

In the image above you can see the proper application of the Right-Hand Rule for the purpose of CNC machining. Each finger represents a positive direction for each axis. Though different machine tools will orient the coordinate system differently, the relationship between these three axes does not change.


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Standard axes of rotation are also defined by the fingers of the Right-Hand Rule (pictured below). Additionally, the positive direction of rotation can also be found by using your right hand and aligning your thumb to any of the positive axis directions and looking at the way your fingers are wrapped around that axis.

right hand rule bobcad cnc software

That’s all we have for today’s topic on understanding the Right-Hand Rule. It is important to mention that machine tool manufacturers do not always build their machines to align with the standard direction of rotation for positive and negative directions of rotation so make sure to keep that in mind! Thank you again for reading another Tech Tuesday; see you next week!

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