I’m struggling to understand this process

I am truly trying to find answers on my own, but I just can’t quite get it.

  1. I know how to create a .svg file
  2. Not sure what to do next
  3. Not sure how to get it to gcode,
  4. Once in gcode, I can load it into the Maslow and cut, right?

Is there an idiots guide to this? I’ve used photoshop, Canva, cricut software, etc…but I’m not grasping this one.

Please help!

Thanks,
Jason

1 Like

Jason,

My advise is to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a simple small CNC that you can learn on now while you get ready for the Maslow. You will find it handy to have a small benchtop CNC where you learn how what “home” means, how to set your workpiece references, how to play around with speeds, jog rate, etc. I was so happy I bought one because you need the tool to learn the trade. Maslow is going to have a tiny bit of increased learning curve but will be well worth it for you in the long run.

Meanwhile…get one or two of the Home Depot 1" Foamular XPS boards, foam is an outstanding material to learn how to use and control your CNC.

Download Estlecam software and watch the short tutorials. The software is intuitive, basically free and Estlecam will import your SVG file and you can click on the lines in your SVG file to create toolpaths that export as an .NC file that contains the gcode. I take the output of Estlecam .NC file into Openbuilds Control which runs my 3018 mini CNC.

And ps learning CNC doesn’t happen overnight its going to take months of experimentation but will be well worth it. CNC is mesmorizing to watch it will fuel your motivation.

1 Like

@Jason_Cornelius Where are you located?

1 Like

I think what you’re missing for #2 is “tool paths”. Autodesk has an article about the topic Machining Fundamentals: Introduction to Toolpaths - Fusion Blog which also links to their video series.

There are numerous programs to create tool paths from a .svg or .dxf file and generate GCode. Some are free and some are paid.

Here’s a list of apps from one of the Maslow repos CAM (G code generation) programs · MaslowCNC/GroundControl Wiki · GitHub

Here’s an old thread that covers the process using FreeCAD Step by Step guide to creating GCode for the Maslow with FreeCAD

Estlcam is another free app and the developer has a comprehensive video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQw0z3NS5lY

Here’s a video covering the process using Fusion360 (by Autodesk) which can be free or paid, depending on your use https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsDmHzSLEig

Another resource I can point to is the CNC With Me community that recently started over at https://www.cncwithme.com/. It’s a paid subscription but there are lots of files and video content as part of the subscription including detailed walkthrus on creating tool paths for various types of CNC projects.

2 Likes

I’m in Fort Worth, TX.

Hi Jason,

I saw your post over in Projects, so I think I have an idea of what you are trying to do.

I’m not knocking on the comments that are in here, there are some good suggestions, but I’d like to propose something that you may find a bit easier to start with, and you can certainly explore more of these other options as you get a better understanding.

The cnc machining process is going to work in essentially three parts.

  1. Design - a CAD or CAM software. There are lots of them out there and they vary from free to paid to very expensive. I have also used Photoshop (Illustrator, CorelDraw, gimp, etc will also work) because I have used that program a lot, and it does work, but it is not necessarily the easiest. I’ll get to this in a moment.
  2. Generate a G-Code. This is the language that the CNC speaks, so your design needs to be made or converted to a g-code file.
  3. Carve program. Again, there are lots that range from free to paid.

You have mentioned PhotoShop, Canva (I haven’t used this), and Cricut. Of the three, Cricut is the closest to what you will need to create a g-code file. You are looking to make a simple line-art type of file (pretty much cut or don’t cut), and that is exactly what a Cricut does. So if you can do that, you are on the right track.

Photoshop does not have the ability to save as an SVG, but you can design a simple black and white drawing of what you want to cut and save as a JPG, and then use a free online converter (like https://convertio.co/ ) to convert from JPG to SVG.

The next step is to import the SVG (or DXF) into a program that can generate the g-code for you. I think one of the best options out there, especially for beginners, is Easel (easel.inventables.com) and although it does have a pro version that costs something like $25/month, you can also just use the free version to do what you want to do, and to learn. It is a pretty easy program to use, you can do some reasonable designs in it, and it can also do the carving for you (step 3), but I have never gotten it to work with my M2, and I do not know if it will work to control the M4 (someone else can answer that for sure), but it certainly can create the g-code you will need, and it can import SVG and DXF files. I highly recommend you try Easel to start with, even if you move to a different platform after you figure things out.

Once you have a g-code file (typically a filename.nc), you can use a g-code sender (carving program) to send the file to the cnc machine to cut it. Again, there are lots of options - OpenBuilds, UGS, Easel, Carveco, MakerVerse or now MakerHub to do the actual carving or cutting.

I hope this isn’t too overwhelming. Let me be simpler. Download Easel. Try it. It seems like you have some experience with graphics programs, so have a look at it and it should be pretty reasonable to figure out.

If you still have difficulty, post up some more questions. Another wonderful feature of Easel is that you can share your project in this forum with a private link and we can take a look at what is going on without being able to ruin it on you.

Cheers!

5 Likes

This is INCREDIBLY helpful! Thank you so, so much. I am going to dive in this weekend and start simple. Thank you, again. I appreciate it so much!

just a note that with the maslow4 you don’t use a separate carve program, you
upload the gcode to the maslow through a browser and use the browser to control
the machine and tell it to carve per the gcode.

David Lang

3 Likes

Thanks David! I haven’t gotten my hands on an M4 yet, so I don’t know exactly how the new machine works.

Cheers!

Another option for wont break the bank software is from OpenBuilds both of their programs are FREE!

I use these for my laser cutter and have seen a couple of people mention OpenBuilds in the CAD/CAM Software section. I am still trying to get my frame constructed so I do not know how this software will work with M4 but if you can run the Cricut software OpenBuilds will be easy.

2 Likes