How to generate G-CODE from 3D/2D CAD models?

Does anyone know how to generate G-CODE from a CAD drawing?

I have some designs for a plastic case and I would like to use the new milling machine to cut them out.

My initial idea was to use a simple tool to create them but as I already have a 3D model with the cutout details, I could save time if I could directly use the output from them. I can generate DXF etc

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Fusion 360? It has some great CAM processes and can generate the G-code. I don’t have a CNC so can’t give first hand experience but others have said good things about that part of F360.

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Will the xcarve Easel software work with a 3040? It might be easier for simple 2D cutouts.

But as Ian says Fusion 360 will definately do it.

I posted on the forum for the 3D CAD software I use and have been recommended to check out CamBam. Not free after the trial but apparently is easy to use. It can take in DXF which I can export from the 2D cad drawing without all of the dimensions and sheet views etc.

Fusion 360 would be fine but it means remaking the designs. I already have them in Geomagic Design so not looking to use another CAD software if possible.

I’m surprised. Has nobody else thought “G-Code is simple, why isn’t he coding it by hand?” :smiley: :open_mouth: No, I don’t really think that, just find a CAM processor that suits.

F360 can also import DXF. However, again this isn’t something I’ve tried so no idea how well that works or how hard it is to get to G-code once you do.

Importing DXF, or nearly any other CAD format is easy in F360.

As its free, I definately think its worth checking out before you spend money on a 2.5D toolpath generator with less features.

I’ve downloaded and having a look at Fusion 360 and checked out the videos. I might just spring for the full version for work use as it appears to do a lot more than my current CAD software. $300 per year is not a lot when you consider what it offers.

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Be careful that you understand what version you are meaning. In terms of feature sets, there are really only two versions: Standard ($300/yr) and Ultimate ($1500/yr). The “enthusiast” version is the same as “standard”. So, if that’s what you’re trying now then don’t expect you’ll get more features for $300. However, for your use I agree that you probably should be paying for the commercial license.

Its worth checking out the licence terms before you commit to subscribing. Firstly, you can use the free trial for a limited period regardless. It is also free for startups making less than 100k a year. I presume thats profit not turnover.

Would need to get confirmation on that 100K a year. Still not applicable to my company though and keeping things legal is where I prefer to keep it. :slight_smile:

Also, several times last year they offered the $300 subscription for $80 during specific sales. You may want to start out with the “startup” license then convert to “standard” during the next sale if you think you need to.

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Ian, I’ve been pretty impressed by Fusion 360 the last couple of days. When you are familiar with 3D CAD it’s not too much work to swap to something new. What I really like about it is the CAM option. My old way of making a drawing, exporting as DXF, importing and deleting what I don’t need is gone out the window with F360. The CAM section is so easy to use one you understand the principles.

The attached design was cut from acrylic. (boy does that swarf get everywhere)


no image @ Dave :slight_smile: I think we all want to see your new handiwork !! :dance:

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One of the things I am finding is that to keep accuracy with the cut, I need to keep the feed rates down to about 1/3 of the settings that are using in Fusion 360 which is easy enough to do without editing the tools. The machine has a feed rate percentage control. Setting this to 33% does the job nicely.

I really need to find a quiet vacuum cleaner and make up an attachment to suck up the swarf as it cuts. Now where is that weblink for that 3D printer again?


Small project from the weekend with Fusion 360 and the CNC machine.

I needed a way to power on and off the scope, spectrum analyser and power supply as the power strip is located behind my desk and there is no ON and OFF switch and I didn’t want to just keep unplugging them as it means crawling under the desk. Keeping them on standby means drawing more power than necessary.

I installed an Itead Studio S20 Smart Switch onto each instrument, each of which is programmed with custom code for MQTT control. Quick bit of code in Node-red and now I could manually control them from the Node-red browser. The 3 S20 modules draw far less power than the scope and spectrum analyser did on standby so win win.

The Node-red bit works but a pest to have to open the browser so I decided a wanted a higher tech option and something that looks more cool so I designed a switch panel with acrylic and MDF. 4 switches for power on and off and each has an LED to show the current status. The All Off LED shows the MQTT status. On means all is good. Each switch when pressed sends out an MQTT topic and payload indicating on or off. Node-red handles this to switch on the required S20.

The panel is 3mm thick milky white acrylic and the body is 3 stacked 18mm MDF. The rear panel is also acrylic and has mounting holes for the Nodemcu module and the DC power input. The lettering is engraved with a 1.5mm flat mill cutter and then flood filled with enamel paint. Leave to dry and then clear off any excess around the lettering. With the ultra smooth surface of the acrylic, this was easy using a cloth and some enamel thinners.


@ Dave McLaughlin - Is that a dishcloth on top of the scope?

Yes, I use them to keep them clean from dust and also because they are in sunlight during part of the day, it stops them becoming discoloured. I remove them completely before using them.

@ Dave McLaughlin, great work as always. However, I have to ask “WHY???” You have voice control. Why not just say “Alexa, turn on the scope!” and do away with all those silly physical buttons? :wink: