Friday, November 9, 2012

Sending CAD files to your CNC Router

If you're using a design program already, such as Corel, Adobe, Autocad, TurboCad, etc., you can generate designs, but can't save your files as g-code, the only language your Mach 3 Software understands to control your Industrial CNC Router.

In order to turn your files into g-code you need what's called a "post processor" a program from which you can take your Vector file, add cutting information (feedrate, cut depth, etc.) and then convert it to G-Code which the Mach 3 software understands.

I typically recommend Vectric Software for this. You can find them at They have user friendly programs for many purposes, with capabilities from simple cutting operations, all the way up to complex 3D designing. Vectric Cut 2D is a simple and powerful program and a perfect way to get started. Once you've mastered it, you can always upgrade to their top of the line programs, V-Carve Pro and Aspire. If you have a CAD/CAM background already you may want to start with at least V-Carve Pro.

Step by step:

1)From your design program, (Adobe, Corel, etc.) export your file as a .dxf file. (you can also use other file formats such as .eps and .ai. Be advised that using other types of files may not open up in the Vectric software.) Make sure to save the file somewhere you'll remember, like on a thumb drive.

2)Open the Vectric program and open the .dxf file into Cut2D.

3)Using the "Tooling" Menu on the Right Hand Side of the screen, add cutting information (depth, tool diameter etc.)

4)Save as a g-code file by clicking the floppy disk icon. Make sure to Select  "Mach 3 Arcs/Inch" Save the g-code (it'll be a .txt file) to your thumb drive.

5)Open the G-code .txt file in Mach 3

You are now ready to cut the file in Mach 3.

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