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STL to G-Code

Discussion in 'CAM' started by Metalguru, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. Metalguru

    Metalguru Veteran

    Dec 29, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Hey guys. I just purchased a few supposed CNC files off Ebay. They look good, however they are all in STL binary format. Seems like pretty much all the CNC files on Ebay are STL. Not sure why, but there must be some advantage to it. I would like to buy it directly in g-code, but there seems to be very little available, unless I want to spend large amounts of money (U$D 25.00 each)

    What software do you guys use to convert STL to G-Code? I have been playing around all afternoon trying to find something that is free and actually works. So far, I have nothing. There has to be a cheap and dirty way to do this.

    I am trying to find free software because I just want to try it out. I'm also basically a cheap old scrooge. I wouldn't mind paying for software as long as it's a hundred or two, and it works.

    I've tried PyCAM, but it seems to be junk. Have not been able to successfully load anything without it crashing. HeeksCAD might work, but I really don't need the CAD side of it. Not coming up with a lot of promising stuff on Google....
  2. Urish

    Urish New

    Mar 16, 2016
    Likes Received:
    I found fusion 360 to be the best CAM software around. It's free for personal usage and IMO better than some paid alternatives.

    Generally buying gcode is a bad idea.

    Gcode is produced based on the parameters of your Cnc, the bit you use and the material

    Setting these parameters right is pretty important so expect some trial and error at the beginning.
  3. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder Resident Builder

    Aug 6, 2013
    Likes Received:
    G-code is very specific to each machine, tooling, fixtures etc so what works on my machine will probably not work on yours unless we are very careful. An STL file (or other vector format) on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to process it through your favourite CAM system into something your CNC likes, suites your bits and material etc, even scale to make a bigger/smaller part. Much more universal.

    So, what is the STL object? If it is essentially flat you can import it into Sketchup, flatten and get Gcode via SketchUcam.

    I too found pyCAM a bit tricky to set up but once you get it going it does produce good Gcode.

    Otherwise you are looking at Fusion360 (big download but free for personal use), HeeksCAD, MeshCAM, BobCAM and so on.

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