I need help. I am by no means an idiot, thus I am smart enough to know when I am out of my depth.
I purchased my X-Carve a few months ago and I have had it up and running for some time now. I am pumping out signs and great 2-D carvings for customers but I am interested in trying to dip into 3-D, if possible.
I am looking for someone who is willing to explain to me, in the most basic language possible, what is G-Code and how do I use it, import it, carve it, using my X-Carve. I see that Easel has an option for importing G-Code but I can’t seem to get much further than that basic fact.
Can anyone out there help me out?
Gcode is the machine language that controls the machine. You can download some examples of common gcode with an explanation of what each one does. Gcode is based on an x,y, and z axis graphically, if you recall that from math class. X is left and right. Y is front to back, and Z is up and down. I taught myself all about g code about 20 years ago by reading a book I bought. I started to write simple programs to make my machine run. These days there are lots of resources on line.
G-code Explained | List of Most Important G-code Commands (howtomechatronics.com)
These days you don’t have to write the code, you can do a drawing and convert the lines and shapes to gcode. That is called the CAM part of Cad/Cam. I don’t use Easel, but I do drawing in a 3d program called Rhino. I use a program called Meshcam to convert the 3d drawings to gcode. If I do a 2d drawing, I use a program called CAMBam to convert to gcode. Easel will import the gcode. I don’t use easel, but I use a Gcode sender called Universal Gcode sender.
The Gcode program is a text file. Under File, you’ll see “Import Gcode”. Most cam programs will have a post processor for common cnc machines. If you don’t see your machine, You can start out with a Fanuc one, which is pretty basic. Grbl doesn’t like some gcodes, so you may have to edit the text in a text editor like WordPad.
So let’s say you get a CAD program and draw a square. You’d have to save that drawing in a file format that the CAM program likes. CAMBam likes a DXF file format. You open cambam and then open the drawing. Then you convert the drawing to gcode and save that file. I open the UGS and open the Gcode file which is on my laptop connected to the X carve. I home the machine and send the program to the Xcarve. The Xcarve follows each gcode which translates to the router moving in the toolpaths created by Cambam.
Easel is a 2d program that allows you to draw and then converts the drawing to gcode for you. If you want to get into more complex shapes, then a 3d program would be something to spend some time learning. I mentioned I use Rhino. These days Fusion360 seems to be one of popular ones and it turns out it is free for non business purposes.
I do 3D work with Vectric’s V-Carve Desktop. It will not create 3D shapes, but you can download them from places like Thingiverse.com which houses hundreds of thousands of .STL files. These files are used by the 3D printing community to make the plastic shapes that you see in the 3D printing world. However, those same files can be carved out of materials by importing the .STL file into Vectric V-Carve and have it create the G-Code to carve away the material around the shape.
Vectric V-Carve is not a package that will create solid shapes. Their package that helps you do that is Vectirc Aspire. I don’t have that and instead us other 3D modeling software that is free to download.