CNC Router Design Software


We are creatures of habit and the CNC router design software article is a window into the software that we use on a daily basis. This does not say that there isn’t other software that is faster and better. We will group the CNC router design software under Graphic design, 2,5D and 3D model tools, machining path and G-code and others.

CNC router Design software Graphic design

Our requirements from a graphic design perspective centers on two aspects, one converting an image into a grayscale image for making a 2,5D relief and secondly to create true black and white images. Every once in awhile we also create 2.5D models directly. We use GIMP 2.8 for the grayscale and for creating true black and white images. For the 2.5D models we use Sketchup. I think it’s always easier to use a picture to explain so here is our latest project, it’s the de Wet family crest, that we converted into a 2.5D relief.

de wet family crest

This picture was sent to us from Klassie. He wants to give this to his sons. We use GIMP 2.8 to convert the picture into a grayscale image. The conversion is completed in 26 steps. It takes that long because you have a number of unique items on the crest. Each of these items is converted into a grayscale item and then added into one single image. The items that are at the back is added first and the each layer is added until the highest item is added.

de wet crest gray scale

The conversion takes about a day and can then be used as many times as you like. Getting back to CNC router design software, the reason we started learning GIMP 2.8 is that it is free but more important is that there is very passionate people that support and use this design software. This is very important when you use anything as a tool and is not your main focus. We add a number of resources for GIMP 2.8 below, Most of these people are very willing to help and guide one through the learning process, yes it takes time but as one use the software, slowly but surely, you learn little tricks that makes each design easier. The help files in GIMP is good but Youtube help more, as you can see what the guys do. We subscribe to PhotoAdvanced, if you ask a question that is not in the tutorials you get a quick and great response, even over a weekend. Don’t forget about the forums that is associated with GIMP 2.8, fantastic people!

The other other item that is great with GIMP 2.8 is that there are very good free plug-in’s that you can add to GIMP 2.8. These do graphic actions that make your life so much easier.

When you have the grayscale image, you need to get it into a height map.

CNC router Design software 2,5D and 3D Model tools

After creating the grayscale we use Image to STL converter it’s a great program, Thanks Brian Woods We have used it now for a year and as long as we take the time on the grayscale, the conversion is always very good. It’s been downloaded close to 20,000 times and is a key step in our process.

De Wet 2,5D

After creating the STL file, we import it into Artcam Express where we size the relief and do final smoothing. We can import the grayscale design directly into Artcam express and get the same relief. We also know that not all the people downloading files from our site has artcam Express thus the step where we convert to STL file format.  We only use Artcam express for toolpath and g-code creation, great program with great control on creating the vectors for carving. It is most likely the best $ 149 dollars we have spend on software. Artcam also have great plugins, tutorials and forums.

CNC router design software others

Another very useful program we use daily is the JPEG resizer by Heinrich Peuser, Every image we post on the website goes through his resizer to make your experience better by getting the images to load faster, thanks Heinrich

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