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View Full Version : Free CAM software, DXF - G Code, any out there?



snowman
12-14-2007, 03:29 PM
Are there any decent ones out there that are free?

I am looking for something to go from dxf to G-Code for my CNC router. Used to have a program, but can't remember what it is...and last time I tried to download it, they had went from a partially functional program to a demo only.

DICKEYBIRD
12-14-2007, 03:39 PM
2D or 3D? If it's 2D, Doug Yeager's ACEConverter works well. Dunno about 3D; can't help with that one.

snowman
12-14-2007, 04:01 PM
2d

is there a place to download that pre-compiled??

Dawai
12-14-2007, 05:05 PM
Hi buddy,,

Mach3, lazycam.. >>>??

snowman
12-14-2007, 05:11 PM
never heard of "lazycam". I used to use deskam.....somehow mine wasn't the limited version, I'm not sure why.

Then I reformatted the computer and tried to install again, and it never worked the same way again.

I just downloaded the aceconverter...but I have a feeling I'll end up missing some features of deskam.

I just emailed art for a copy of my registration key, hopefully he'll send it to me. I lost it when I reformatted.

mochinist
12-14-2007, 05:26 PM
Fingercam :) works really well once you learn all the codes, the math is probably the trickiest part but I doubt that is a problem with this crowd.

oldtiffie
12-14-2007, 05:26 PM
Hi buddy,,

Mach3, lazycam.. >>>??
Thanks David.

I was going to suggest that as well.

I have recently installed Mach3 but am still "reading up" on it (long way to go yet!!!).

John Stevenson's recent post re. the "Seig" 3X/4X CNC mill really set me going on getting interested in CNC-ing. It was started off by several recent excellent posts on CNC conversions/up-grades and "construct from new/scratch" posts.

I will be VERY interested to see what comes in on this thread as regards using CNC on a HSM machine (mill, lathe).

"ArtSoft" home page is at:
http://www.machsupport.com/artsoft/index/index.htm

CAM down-load page (Note: I have not checked to see if any is free or what-ever) is at:
http://www.machsupport.com/cam.htm

Suggested CAM packages page is at:
http://www.machsupport.com/artsoft/downloads/downloads.htm

But note that it has the following caveats:

1.
ArtSoft Recommended CAM Programs

While Mach3 does have a very simple CAM program (LazyCam) that is free to licensed users, and can be upgraded on the plugins page for simple pocketing and offsetting, it is recommended to use a full CAM program. The CAM programs in this section will automatically be sensed by Mach3, and will appear in the Mach3 menu system if installed. They are highly recommended products and very powerfull additions to a Mach3 installation. If you have a requirment for CAM programs , we highly suggest you try these products, available directly from their creators from the links listed here. Simply click the name of the package to view their sites.

All of these programs are highly recommended by ArtSoft and its Mach3 users groups.


2.
VCarvePro

-- A collection of very professional , very easy to use 3d CAM programs.

SheetCam

-- One of the best Plasma CAM packages available, and also very good at general Milling work.

MeshCam

-- A very nice GCode generator for 3d model files

D2NC -

-- An innovative drawing to GCode generator

LazyCam Pro Upgrade

LazyCam is free within Mach3, but may be upgraded to Pocketing and Offsetting as well as Basic Turn profile inports. Inexpensive, but in development and not as powerfull as the above CAM programs.

snowman
12-14-2007, 05:28 PM
Fingercam :) works really well once you learn all the codes, the math is probably the trickiest part but I doubt that is a problem with this crowd.

I know the codes for basic machinework...i'm rusty, but it wouldn't take much to get it back, but I'm doing a lot of curve to curve translations and such...just don't like doing all the math to come up with all of the intersection points...

I'm doing about 100 different parts, each one with it's own set of curves...it's worth a hundred bucks to buy software to do it for me :)

snowman
12-14-2007, 05:30 PM
Ok, next question :)

Anybody know of a site that has prints for doing a basic CNC conversion on a harbor frieght mini mill?

If I can save my 5 minutes of active brainpower for something else each day, I'm all for it.

mochinist
12-14-2007, 06:07 PM
I know the codes for basic machinework...i'm rusty, but it wouldn't take much to get it back, but I'm doing a lot of curve to curve translations and such...just don't like doing all the math to come up with all of the intersection points...

I'm doing about 100 different parts, each one with it's own set of curves...it's worth a hundred bucks to buy software to do it for me :)If you have a dxf the math is done for you, I guess you would still have to do some if your control didn't support cutter compensation. A hundred different parts would be a lot of programming though so don't take this as I am arguing with you, just shooting the bull:)

John Stevenson
12-14-2007, 06:33 PM
OK seeing as the OP subject was free CAM software lets address this.

For free we have in no order and no time limited demo's

Cambam from http://www.brusselsprout.org/CAMBAM/
This is a work in progress but is showing a lot of promise

Another free one is Flashcut from http://www.flashcutcnc.com although flashcut has a healthy price tag this is because it drives a proprietary pulse generator, without this it can't move a machine.

What it can do though is to import a dxf and convert it to G-Code for the pulse generator to process.

If you download the demo version of Flashcut any version, you need the demo as it doesn't keep looking for the pulse generator.

Then import your dxf file, first thing it does is ask to save the file as "Same name.fgc" accept this then you get a screen up that defines feeds and Z depths and cut increments.

Once this has been filled in you get the G code in the window and a screen shot of the part.

Ignore all this other than out of interest because now that file "Same name.fgc" now contains the G-Code file list.

Take this file and rename it to whatever you machine controller needs like .tap or .cnc and you now have a working code that may need editing as regards tol numbers speed etc but the bulk of the work is done and it's free.

.

Evan
12-14-2007, 08:01 PM
Freemill is available again.



FreeMill is a fully functional 3D Milling package built on MecSoft Corporationís (http://www.mecsoft.com/) award winning VisualMill CAM package. With this product you will be able to import VisualMill 4.0, STL, Rhino .3dm, VRML and Raw Triangle files, run full simulations on your part models and be able to output G code to your machine tool. The product comes with about 50 pre-built post-processors.

This product is absolutely FREE! There is no time limit, part limit, post limit, or line of code limit in this product.

Available file imports include: VisualMill, Rhino, STL, VRML.



http://www.mecsoft.com/Mec/Products/FreeMill.shtml

mochinist
12-14-2007, 08:29 PM
I just downloaded freemill to play with but I dont have any of the file types here at home to import into freemill, anyone here have one of the file types listed above , of a simple part?

Evan
12-14-2007, 08:43 PM
There is a sample part in the program's own directory.

oldtiffie
12-14-2007, 08:50 PM
There is a sample part in the program's own directory.


Thanks Evan.

I did not see dxf files listed as was required in the OP - and would be for me as well.

Is dxf a compatible file?

A lot of CAD packages out-put or exchange using dxf files by default.

I would guess - and that is all it is - that some CAM packages might require dxf either as a default or as the sole file format.

Any further advice will be appreciated.

mochinist
12-14-2007, 08:50 PM
There is a sample part in the program's own directory.we'll I'll be damned:D

oldtiffie
12-14-2007, 09:07 PM
OK seeing as the OP subject was free CAM software lets address this.

For free we have in no order and no time limited demo's

Cambam from http://www.brusselsprout.org/CAMBAM/
This is a work in progress but is showing a lot of promise

Another free one is Flashcut from http://www.flashcutcnc.com although flashcut has a healthy price tag this is because it drives a proprietary pulse generator, without this it can't move a machine.

What it can do though is to import a dxf and convert it to G-Code for the pulse generator to process.

If you download the demo version of Flashcut any version, you need the demo as it doesn't keep looking for the pulse generator.

Then import your dxf file, first thing it does is ask to save the file as "Same name.fgc" accept this then you get a screen up that defines feeds and Z depths and cut increments.

Once this has been filled in you get the G code in the window and a screen shot of the part.

Ignore all this other than out of interest because now that file "Same name.fgc" now contains the G-Code file list.

Take this file and rename it to whatever you machine controller needs like .tap or .cnc and you now have a working code that may need editing as regards tol numbers speed etc but the bulk of the work is done and it's free.

.

Thanks John.

Very good points so far as I am concerned as some-one who is between a complete novice (dick-head) and neophyte in regard to CNC programming.


If you download the demo version of Flashcut any version, you need the demo as it doesn't keep looking for the pulse generator.

Then import your dxf file, first thing it does is ask to save the file as "Same name.fgc" accept this then you get a screen up that defines feeds and Z depths and cut increments.

Once this has been filled in you get the G code in the window and a screen shot of the part.

Ignore all this other than out of interest because now that file "Same name.fgc" now contains the G-Code file list.

Take this file and rename it to whatever you machine controller needs like .tap or .cnc and you now have a working code that may need editing as regards tol numbers speed etc but the bulk of the work is done and it's free.

My problem is that I have yet to learn what the G codes mean for each function on my specific machine (mill, lathe)for the specific CNC software (in my case Mach3 "turn" and "mill").

I'd imagine that I'd need to be proficient at all of these items before I got too far (and beyond my depth) in editing G code.

It seems to me that it can be akin to "cocking up" when editing the Registry in Windows.

But given your experience with Mach3 and its predecessors, I guess that Flashcut "does the job" as a "full on" job instead of perhaps in the perhaps limited way of Mach's CAM software.

I wonder how long "FlashCut" will leave this free "work-around" window (of opportunity) open before closing it off.

Or am I off-track again?

snowman
12-14-2007, 09:09 PM
yeah, it would just be busywork. Even with the dxf, I could just offset it the diameter of the cutter, not a big deal...but it's all the busywork involved with it.

Evan
12-14-2007, 09:28 PM
Mesh files can be converted to DXF and 3DXF can be converted to mesh files. There are quite a few programs out there that do it.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ivcon/

Also, I forgot about Gcode 2000. It converts DXF to G Code

http://home.carolina.rr.com/gcodemcode/

oldtiffie
12-14-2007, 11:24 PM
Mesh files can be converted to DXF and 3DXF can be converted to mesh files. There are quite a few programs out there that do it.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ivcon/

Also, I forgot about Gcode 2000. It converts DXF to G Code

http://home.carolina.rr.com/gcodemcode/

Thanks again Evan.

Appreciated.

John Stevenson
12-15-2007, 05:08 AM
Mesh files can be converted to DXF and 3DXF can be converted to mesh files. There are quite a few programs out there that do it.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ivcon/

Also, I forgot about Gcode 2000. It converts DXF to G Code

http://home.carolina.rr.com/gcodemcode/

Only demo's - not free as OP asked.
..

oldtiffie
12-15-2007, 05:17 AM
Thanks John.

The field is slowly but surely getting narrowed to the OP requirement ie deal with dxf files and free.

Is there a list available of the G code/s by name, function, settings/options and effects etc. please.

Evan
12-15-2007, 05:38 AM
Only demo's - not free as OP asked.

Sourceforge projects are all freeware. You know that.

Gcode 2000 is good for 30 days/ 100 uses.

John Stevenson
12-15-2007, 05:56 AM
Everyone has their choices, it's a bit like religion and there are many ways to learn.

I think to get started you need to understand what is going on in the codes, they are simple when it boils down to it, most are directions to way points like corners, circle centres etc.

The Mach3 demo isn't time limited and is only limited by the length of the file that can be run in mill so it makes a good learning platform.

On the screen next to the big red E_Stop are two buttons that call up the relevant G Codes and M codes that Mach understands. They do have a short description but a google search will find better.

Also on the main screen, second row of buttons to the right of the start button is one called single step.
This is handy when proving a program as you then only do one move before it has to be pressed again.

I won't have time until tonight but if wanted I'll draw a simple shape, post the dxf, then process this thru Flashcut and post the former .FGC file so mach can read it.

Then the punter can single step thru mach, read the line of code and see just what it does.

If this is wanted by more than a couple of people I'll do this tonight in a new post with descriptions of what is happening.

.

oldtiffie
12-15-2007, 06:13 AM
Yep - thanks John.

Count me in for one - thanks.

But only when it suits.

I can recall the on-screen stuff in Mach3 that you refer to.

DICKEYBIRD
12-15-2007, 09:55 AM
Hey Snowman; if you're interested, ACE is available here: http://www.dakeng.com/ace.html No time limit, open source freeware thanks to Doug Yeager.

I'm not sure how it compares to the other ones posted above but works well for my 2D CNC routing. My controller software (crappy MaxNC program) doesn't support tool offsets so I just draw them in on a separate layer in TurboCAD and choose that layer from within ACE. Yeah, yeah I know, archaic for sure but when I finally get something to work, I HATE learning new software.:(

You shoulda seen me back in the 90's when I 1st got into this stuff. The MaxNC "Mill" program would only recognize and convert a .dxf that was generated in AutoCAD. The only CAD program I could (barely) use was TurboCAD but the .dxf it generated wasn't readable by "Mill." I had to draw my parts in TurboCAD on a "virtual worktable" to properly position them to fit within the confines of my machine's worktable, save all the separate parts out with an individual filename on a floppy; walk down to my neighbor's house who had ACAD r12 (DOS version!) for him to load up each file and resave them for me on the floppy; go back home and load all the new files into an ACSII text editor to compile them all into one long string; then load that up to cut the parts; hoping like hell I hadn't screwed up somewhere in the process...which was often. Oh, yeah, this is bringing up memories...."Mill" would only recognize joined polylines and if I had even one microscopic gap in any of the entities it was a complete bust! At least I did get some exercise walking back & forth to neighbor's house 'cuz I had no email or internet access at the time.

You can imagine my fist-pumping, blood-curdling scream "YEEE-HAWWW" the 1st time I used ACE after a couple years at the old process.:) ACE let's me load up the entire "table" full of parts, define how big a gap in any entities it'll automatically connect for me, define the order in which the parts are cut, how deep each pass will be, yada, yada, yada.

I'm guessing all of this is just ancient history but thought it might interest you.

Evan
12-16-2007, 10:21 PM
I just found this today. It looks interesting and does work from DXF files. It's free too.

http://www.gsimple.eu/index.html

John Stevenson
12-17-2007, 03:42 AM
I just found this today. It looks interesting and does work from DXF files. It's free too.

http://www.gsimple.eu/index.html
Thanks Evan, forgot this one and worth keeping an eye on for later use ?

It's still a work very much still in progress and still has bugs and limitations.
One bug is the use of inches as the native program uses mm then converts and it can generate errors doing this.

It also has a 1024 entity limitation on file size so say a part for engraving with a lot of short line moves will not get processed.

The developer is listening though whichis a good sign so perhaps in a couple of months it will be a more stable program ?

.