How to use maslow with SolidWorks

To preface this, I have an “OK” understanding of computers and technology, but am by no means a pro.

I am I am a user of solidworks only (at this point) and am wondering if I an use it for this aswell. I am having trouble finding anything on the internet pertaining to how I would get my solid works part into the ground control (I understand that there is a need for a CAM software, and I’ve seen used with maslow). I was looking at makercam and was confused as to what I could input as usable data (file type etc.). Any help with this would be amazing for I am completely lost in this CNC journey.

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The Maslow is a 2.5 axis CNC machine controlled by gcode commands. I sniffed the internet and found this discussion of ways to generate gcode from Solidworks, on a website of a CNC machine vendor. Their summary looks valid as a starting point.

Thank you very much. After posting I did some snopping and figured out how to: solidworks -> dxf file -> inkscale -> svg file -> makercam -> ground control. But I will definitely look at this too.


I have had some luck making my parts in SW then exporting as a dxf. I’ve then googled “dxf to svg” and found some online sites that do this automatically, quickly and for free. From there I import to Makercam or Easel. Has worked pretty good so far.


remember, makercam is a pretty low-end CAM program, it’s convienient, but if you
can use something else, it would probably be better, and just about anything
else will accept dxf directly.

It’s also worth remembering that the .DXF format has several revisions, and things that work in the newer versions, don’t exist in the older versions.

We had this problem crop up when using the lasercutter that we got for the workshop, so we had to specify which of the DXF formats we wanted to use.

If you have problems with using DXF files, this is one of the things that is worth checking first, as most of the issues we had were due to the lasercutter not being able to access the DXF versions that were created after the lasercutter was released.

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One option is to use mastercam for solidworks. Its expensive professional software and maybe even overkill for just a 2.5 axis cnc router but it is an option, it allows you to perform all the cam operations and generate the gcode directly from solidworks.

I struggled a bit myself in figuring out how to use Solidworks with the Maslow.
I use Solidworks exclusively for modeling and follow these steps.

  1. Complete all solids (individual parts and or full assemblies).
  2. Create a “drawing” using the solid(s). (I made simple blank drawing page 4’ x 8’ frame to position parts).
    {be sure you have the drawing settings and the view port(s) set to 1:1 scale.}
  3. “Save” as SW drawing (future moving or manipulation if needed).
  4. “Save as” dxf format directly in Solidworks.
  5. Import dxf into cam software of choice.

There are plenty of Cam programs (Free/low cost) out there to choose from (My thoughts below):
a). Makercam is a good basic program and OK for simple designs. I had issue importing Oval shapes.
b). Easel (online) is also OK for a beginner, but lacks depth of control I needed.
c). Fusion 360 is OK and can be used (I had difficulty using, as it works very differently than Solidworks).
d). Estlcam is a free/buy Cam program (I use this and have been very happy). <$70/license.
{The free version has a limit to it’s use, but I never came to that limit}.
e). Solidworks 2018 does have a cam module that you can learn (fairly new addition to the suite). I have not use it, but may play in the future.

If you are completely new to Cam, I recommend you start “playing” with the Easel program to see what the “basic” setting and work flow is like. Then move to a more robust program.
I personally love Estlcam, I have not had any issues with it. There are some fairly good tutorials for Estlcam and the setting (I use) for it I have already posted here:

If you would like a copy of the Solidworks drawing template I use contact me off forum and I will sent it to you.


Thanks, I will definitely be looking into estlcam, and do you just use a basic 4x8 1/4" template for you Solidworks base?

Yes, I use a basic 4’x8’ drawing sheet template but do not set a specific thickness of part. The depth of cut (thickness) is set in CAM. All Etslcam needs is a 2D top view.

ok, thanks, i didn’t know how people did it here (build the part or cut from shape). so you just use a 0 thinkness plank?

Solidworks will not allow a zero thickness solid model. You should design your piece with a basic unit of thickness like 1mm or 1 inch. If you know you will be working with a specific thickness of wood 1/4", 1/2" and so on, you can use this thickness for you model also. The thickness of the object you cut out is up to you and how deep you tell the cam program to cut.

all i use is solid work with no problens just make sure when you save as dxf it is a straight on view

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That’s what I’ve figured out works and I’ve had no problems since.


I am using solidworks at work but have not played around with the cam module yet since our CNC machine came with it’s own CAM software.

Have you successfully used SW cam on the Maslow? Has anyone? As far as I understand there is a setup process that you have to go through in order to make SW-CAM undesrstand the parameters of your individual machine/software configuration… Am I wrong?



There is a setup needed for using Solidworks. I believe it has to be set for the correct output language and most of the features have to be removed (turned off) as the output commands are not used with Maslow.

I have not done it as I found that Etslcam was way easier for 99% of all projects I cut with my Maslow. I think the SW CAM interface is way too complicated and overkill for what we can do with the Maslow.

so I guess just doing a top view dxf file save from SW is good enough? Also, I think to remember that some people on here have done a proper z axis setup for the Maslow, does the Etslcam do a proper job of implementing that G code for the maslow? I would like to be able to do at least some counter sinking, etc with the Maslow.

The top view is all needed. Etslcam does a great job for my work. I have not played with my Maslow for 6 months so not versed in current issues, etc. Etslcam has a free trial. It is low cost if you buy it. It doe counterbores easy. Be careful with scaling in your export of dxf file.