View Full Version : 3D G-code, anyone?

06-24-2005, 04:35 PM
i recently added a Z axis to a plasma table. am waiting for a TorchHeight Controller to show up in the mail.

in the meantime i thought i'd play with my air grinder.. its similar body size as my plasma torch and will fit in the holder.

i use SheetCAM to generate Gcode but it only does 2 1/2D .. would like to try a simple relief carving (that isnt pocketed letters) in softwood or maybe plaster -- my machine isn't as rigid as a proper CNC router.

something around 3/4" deep (Z movement on my machine is ~1" max) .. say about 8"x10"

anyone care to share? or point me to where I might find it?


06-24-2005, 08:37 PM
There is a program called 'freemill' that would do nicely for this. Mecsoft is the company that was giving this freebie away. I can't find it on their web site. hopefully, some other contributor will be able to point you to a copy and the password procedure.

06-24-2005, 08:40 PM
Here's the link to the download:


06-25-2005, 01:18 AM

Takes a 3d already drawn file and creates the gcode. Uses any kind of endmill,cutter. You can use various 3d programs to draw the item. A free download that works for 30 days.

Easy to use, license is about $400 US dollars. Works quite well. I plan on purchasing it.

I have bobcad, blue screened it twice today. Trying to change the menus to support my stinking 3-d two joystick mouse. Not gave up yet, I paid $800 for it and still can't believe I can't make it do what I want. Yeah I am stubborn. It is becoming easier to use. Still clicking on the wrong thing leads to "Program not responding". If it can be broken, believe me I can.

Want to purchase us "3d scanners"? I have a laser trac on the way from Sears at $39 plus shipping. The Logitech Camera code is cracked into a visual basic file. Now I need to write the 3d triangulation software. I have known "angle and distance between camera center and laser fan", will need to calculate the angular difference from pixel per radian into a file to import into bobcad or autocad.

Unit will use a for/next loop to read distance to laser line from center by "seeing" the laser wavelength of color in a pixel read. It won't be exact within thousanths but better than the tenths most probe scanners give. Imagine scanning a rose into the program to 3d cut into a bedframe?

Mach2 does a scanning probe point cloud. Lots of programs can skin it from there.


06-25-2005, 01:34 AM
Freemill makes code that "looks" like it'll work.. neato.. I downloaded and installed it. It works with my 3d joystick mouse. No crash.


06-25-2005, 01:50 AM
I've had Freemill crash several times on XP. Still, it seems pretty cool.

David, try running the g-code on cnc simulator.


[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 06-25-2005).]

06-25-2005, 09:01 AM
.Stl files.. ANybody got a visual basic subroutine to manipulate them? I'd like to scan objects directly into some 3d format.

They look to be actual C++ code. Perhaps you just inline it into the C++ program?

I also have played with .X files, they are compact and give 3d data up quite easily. You can also use Collision detection IN directX. You create a Sprite of the endmill and seek the collision of the two objects, back up and write that data to the Gcode file. Problem I have had with that is sprites ususally have a square footprint.

I am not a good enough programmer to work out "those" problems in my lifetime I think.

Solidworks from appearance Rules the roost.
I wanna copy. Only problem is lack of money.

Look for AYAM on the net. A free OpenGL download 3d mOdeling program

[This message has been edited by ibewgypsie (edited 06-25-2005).]

06-25-2005, 11:52 AM
hey thanks for the tip! downloaded freemill, pointed it to one of my STL files and it walked me through step-by-step.

dumped the output into Mach2 and, at least in simulation mode, no problems.

now.. how do i bolt a piece of plaster to the grate on my plasma table? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

thanks again, off to play.

06-25-2005, 03:11 PM
Don't use plaster, it will eat all the bearings. Try a 3/4" thick piece of styrofoam. It will make a mess but won't cause damage.

06-25-2005, 03:23 PM
I have wanted a gantry machine for one thing.

Hydraulic Compress sand into a mold, carve the object out in sand. Carve other division of object, then pour metal into the cavity.

Not got there yet. The last one I had here was about .1 resolution. Not good enough. Needs more money throwed at it.

At the local college, they have a 3d plastic printer.. I am invited up to watch it in action. A perfect modelers tool to sand cast with.


06-25-2005, 04:49 PM
i've got some 1" thick pieces of (relatively) soft marble. they were meant to be cleaned and used on a chimney mantle.

wonder if i take really light cuts if my table could handle it.

what sort of tool (bit) would you use? cutting? abrading?
does marble need to be cut wet?


06-25-2005, 05:37 PM
Rubber mask, cut it with your gantry.. then sandblast to shape.. Rubber mask again, then sandblast..

You can use relative thin rubber masking for sandblast stencil.

06-25-2005, 05:54 PM
I have cut stuff with freemill. It worked fine, but it only has one method for producing output. This is one reason it is simple and reliable to use. The freemill job took 17 hours to complete. With RhinoCAM and it's machining options, the same job can be run in 32 minutes. It took multiple iterations of using RhinoCAM for me to get it there. Let's just chalk that up to "training"

RhinoCAM generates real G code from Rhino drawings. It has good import capabilities. I have brought in stuff from Solid Works and ProE. Works a treat and is relativly easy to use. You don't need 3d drawings to do 2 1/2d machining; Just drag a dwg or dxf into Rhino, select the area to cut, cut depth and away you go. 3d requires a bit more effort and knowledge of RhinoCAM to use (more training. RhinoCAM also comes with a good engraver built in.

I selected it over the what ever freemill does for $400, because I needed a usable 3D drawing system (Rhino) and I like the machining options. I paid less than $1k, but I think it costs more now ~$1200. Not bad for a real 3d CAD system with an integrated, usable, G code output. IMO.

I looked at several other low cost solutions; Turbo CAD and it's G code generator and a package from Scandinavia. The Rhino solution seemed to work best for me. Turbo CAM wasn't intuitive enough and the Scandinavian product didn't work well with 2d drawings.

This product isn't going to replace the biggies. There's a reason they cost much more, but for a small shop, this tool does 80% of what the big ones do for about 20% of the cost. And No, I don't have anything to do with MecSoft, except I bought their product.

06-26-2005, 01:14 PM
My most recent letter to BOBCAD...


BOBCAD19 caused an invalid page fault in
module COMCTL32.DLL at 0167:bfbb06a2.
EAX=013ccfe0 CS=0167 EIP=bfbb06a2 EFLGS=00010216
EBX=0b38d7f1 SS=016f ESP=015ef2e8 EBP=015ef308
ECX=013c9908 DS=016f ESI=013ccfe0 FS=2a2f
EDX=013c7fd4 ES=016f EDI=013c9890 GS=0000
Bytes at CS:EIP:
8b 46 38 03 46 30 89 5e 30 2b c3 89 46 38 89 46
Stack dump:
00000000 013c9908 013c7fd4 fffffffe 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000400 015ef32c bfbb04c9 013c7fd4 00000001 00000321 0000041f 013c7fd4 000006a4

This is the documented #180 crash of this program since installation. Seems I need to reinstall it again.. OR? I think a refund or partial refund is in order. I have not gotten any parts created, made or designed with this software. I have tried to solve the problems on my own. When I contacted your company I got many many calls by salesmen trying to sell me more crap from your company.

If you can not refund my money, I will post first a complaint with the Better business bureau then post two webpages on the internet including your bobcad Yahoo site.

Your software sucks. I have been robbed.

David Cofer <deleted phone number> do not call me trying to sell me more crap, I am on a do-not call list. You can call me to resolve this problem.

06-27-2005, 11:30 AM

See this knowledge base article from Microsoft.


It may have some bearing on your problem.

06-27-2005, 06:04 PM
Evan, The bobcad got put on a fresh Windows 98 here on a removeable harddrive. I have had people creeping in through the cable dsl router. I have the same problem on the shop computer running XP pro and no programs except Mach2.

I got 19.0 version of bobcad. Someone said that version was obseleted by newer bug free versions of v19.

I had less problems on the house puter after installing DirectX9. I had that already on the shop computer.


06-27-2005, 06:26 PM
Just downloaded version 19.93 from thier site.. Onto this box, this hard drive, this very used computer. I have to call them now and kiss thier butt to get a authorization number to make the software work.

I may erase the other removeable drive.


06-28-2005, 01:34 PM
I'm sure glad I stayed away from that BoB program........

06-28-2005, 05:57 PM
I got Mec-Soft people calling now. Not sure which way to go next. I do want to have a 3d modeling program that works and produces .stl files. I do have autocad installed on here but not ever used it for anything but electrical documentation. I think solidcam or Rhinocam Rhino3D? Not ready to spend the money yet.

Both machines are intel motherboard, intel processors, this one 1.6 gig machine, 60gig hd, 256 meg memory, tn riva pci gamer video w/256 vid memory, running 98, other one is a more common video (forget) but a 2.4 gig intel, motherboard and processor running 256 meg and XP pro. This machine runs Linux excellent, other will not function on Linux but runs XP fine. So I think this one's bios was set up to be a server. Both machines have directX 9 on them.

06-29-2005, 02:38 AM
Hi all,
Maybe this is of interest to some of you.
There seem to be a free Parametric 3D cad giveaway at www.x-cad.net (http://www.x-cad.net) to the first 100 000 that register (100 k registers needs to be reached before Aug 1). The registercount at this moment is a bit more than 50 000.

Rumours suggest that his is a marketing move from Alibre and that the CAD application might be Alibre Design. Dont know if there is any facts behind the rumours. Check out Alibre Design at www.alibre.com (http://www.alibre.com) , seems to be a descent solid modeler with a SRP of $995.


06-29-2005, 04:05 AM
The 3 dimensional shape is that of a triangle, Start at the X axis, then shift to the Z axis, at this point move upward on the Z axis to reach the G spot.