Maslow Home Maslow Community Garden Newsletter

Sketchup to CAM?

I’m new to maslow and cnc in general.

I’ve done some modeling with sketchup in the past, and it’s the program i’m currently most proficient at.

I’ve attempted to export something I created in sketchup (the online/web version) in order to produce Gcode, but with very limited success.

The most success I’ve had was a dozen step process to take my design and de-construct it in sketchup into several flat things all in the same plane and lofted how i think they need to be, then importing to freecad and going thru lots of machinations to get to something that sorta puts out g-code.

for reasons i cannot fathom, it does not write gcode for all the pieces.
or it writes blank gcode.
and I cannot edit the imported model. despite each piece being totally separate from the other, freecad treats it as one monolithic part.

so before I stab in the dark and try other cad/cam suites blindly attempting to find one that works best, does anyone else have this process worked out? From sketchup (.stl) to something that can be lofted/nested and finally to gcode?

thanks!
km

I used SU for years (mostly for 3d printing) and I was happy with it. Then I got in touch with Fusion 360 and onshape. Since then SU is not an option anymore. Solid modelling produces always good objects and the history based approach saves you a lot of time.

I know the GitHub think can be a little confusing, but this is what I am using. It is a plugin for sketchup to convert faces to svg files.

Does the plugin work with the online/web based sketchup that is the free version nowadays?

Km

Does this help?

unfortunately I don’t think this plugin works with the free online version.
now if i’m willing to pay $299 a year, it looks like I can get all the extensions and plugins i want.
but what fun would that be…:slight_smile:
km

Hmmmmm it used to work with the free version, but I guess they changed the rules :worried:

You know I don’t know. I use an old PC version and did not know they had moved to web based. I’m sorry.

I am willing to bet with a litte searching you can find an installer for one of the old PC based free versions. I find I don’t need all the bells and whistles for Malow projects. Good luck.

They are altering the deal. Pray they don’t alter it any further.

Open source FTW!

1 Like

When I looked into using Sketchup online in the beginning, it was not fruitful. I also had struggles drawing dxfs, then converting to SVG, then generating the gcode in MakerCAM. Though I could use this workflow to make cuts, I never could get the scale quite right.

I highly recommend investing time into learning Fusion 360. It’s a bit intimidating when coming from direct modeling software like Sketchup, but it’s worth it in my opinion. The ability to have feature-based modeling and CAM in the same program is awesome. If you need to make changes to the model, regenerating the toolpaths is usually just a few clicks.

Not only is it free for hobbyists, but there are loads of tutorials for both the CAD and CAM modules, some of which center around flat pack furniture design and CNC routers.

1 Like

I use fusion for some things, primarily 3D printing. For many maslow things I find sketchup superior (faster/easier).

1 Like

Hi morgenstern

I recommend to invest 99 Euro and buy CAMBAM to produce gcode. Really cool. (actually the first software I ever bought) Try the free version first http://www.cambam.info/.

I imported from stl files to cambam from : designspark mechanical 4.0 (also fully free) and sketchup.

But mostly I use inkscape export dxf to cambam and produce gcode for the maslow.

I played around with Blender but I found it a little to complex for my synapses.

hth

-p.

2 Likes

The best software to use is the one your friend uses. Then if you get stuck you can compare notes and help each other out.

Basically anything that produces GCode will work. And these days any CAD software can usually be coerced into generating GCode. If it can’t, then dump it. There are plenty of free and unencumbered tools available right now.

I have used QCAD, FreeCAD, OpenSCAD, and Inkscape to do the CAD. Then I have used DXF2GCODE to produce the GCode (except for FreeCAD, which has its own CAM module built in). I’m avoiding anything in the cloud, and anything that is subscription based. Every time I hear “Fusion360 is free” I throw up in my mouth a little.

2 Likes

This made me laugh @ame!

Of the ones you have tried, which do you prefer and why? I like the idea of FreeCAD, but it always hangs on my system, so I have never gotten far enough to try making gcode. I’ve only used inkscape, but it is more of an art program than a CAD program as is Blender: which doesn’t have much in the way of dimensioning. I’m interested in what you and others think about the options.

The answer is ‘it depends’. And what’s good for me might not be good for others. For CAD I really like QCAD, because it’s really Old Skool. It’s perfect for classic technical drawings, and it makes DXF files. I’m not building a jumbo jet or a resort hotel, so I really don’t need much from my CAD software.

I’ve also used Python to programmatically produce DXF files which can then be tweaked in QCAD and then used for CAM. No reason why I couldn’t just produce GCode directly in Python, but that’s an option.

For slightly more ‘organic’ work I prefer Inkscape. But really, the key is that these are all tools, and there are common, simple file formats (DXF, SVG) that you can throw around between tools to get what you want. Some software wants you to be part of their ecosystem, which means you have to stick with it as time goes on, and your files are essentially held hostage because they are in a proprietary format. I prefer to grab the tools I need to get the results I want, and I really don’t want any third party insinuating themselves anywhere along the line.

I also want to be in a position where I can give somebody a CAD file of whatever format and be sure that I don’t encumber them with any restrictions. If I give you an OpenSCAD file, for example, you can open it without buying anything or signing up for anything.

1 Like

Thanks for the thoughtful response!

I just want to throw in again that I am working on Maslow Create which is an always free and open source CAD/CAM program specifically for collaborative CNC projects…it’s really not ready yet for use, but we’re getting closer every day.

I am making it because I haven’t found a CAD/CAM work flow which I think is “just right”. There are a lot of workable options out there tho.

Note that there is a possible workflow using blender as well (also free, and works in linux) but I have not had the chance to test it. Also, blender has quite a learning curve.

1 Like

I use Sketchup for most of my design work. I use EstlCAM or Easel for CAM.

The key for me was a plugin that allows me to export a DXF from Sketchup. This is free and works pretty well.

https://www.guitar-list.com/download-software/convert-sketchup-skp-files-dxf-or-stl

EstlCAM is not free, but in my opinion, it was worth the cost of admission.

3 Likes