In this blog post, we have given you a brief overview of some of the things you need to consider when deciding on a CNC engraving machine. We hope that by now you have come to realize that there are many factors involved in making such an important decision. It’s not just about choosing a good product or brand name anymore; it’s also about finding something that fits your specific needs as well as budget requirements. With so many choices available today, it can be quite overwhelming trying figure out which one is right for you!
In this post, we review the aspects of Engraving Software For Cnc, 3d engraving software, Can you use lightburn with CNC, and What is the easiest CNC software to use?
Engraving Software For Cnc
A CNC engraving machine is an incredibly useful piece of equipment for any shop or office. It can be used to create logos and designs on small items like jewelry, cut out custom shapes from larger materials like wood, or even be used as a laser printer! However, there are many different applications for these machines and it’s important to have the right software installed in order to get the most out of your investment. Here are some of my favorite choices:
Laser Cutting Software
Laser engraving software is a program that allows users to design, edit and manipulate their designs before sending them to the laser engraver to be cut. Laser cutting software works in much the same way but only for CNC mills. Both programs allow you to input your design as vectors or raster images, allowing you to cut just about anything you can imagine out of wood, acrylic or any material that can be engraved or cut by a laser beam.
Image To G-Code
To convert an image to g-code, you need to use a program called Image To G Code. This software allows you to take any image and turn it into a series of numbers that the CNC machine can understand. Once the image is converted into g-code, it can be loaded onto your CNC machine and processed.
There are many different types of software available for converting images to g-code but we recommend using AutoCAD because it’s easy to use and very affordable. If you don’t have access to AutoCAD then there are other options available such as Mastercam or CamBam.
After installing the software onto your computer, open up the file you want converted into g-code (this should be an .eps/.ai). Select “File>Export>Export as IGES (*)…” from the menu bar at the top of your screen:
Once this option is selected, click “Next >” at which point you will see some options related specifically towards exporting files in IGES format:
Laser printer is used to print out the image on paper. This can be done by using software that has this option as an output format.
If you want to use a laser printer then you need to place the drawing on a piece of paper and then print it out on your laser printer, after which you should cut it out and paste it on your CNC machine so that the beam can do its job properly.
Cnc Engraving Machine
Cnc Engraving Machine: A CNC engraving machine is used to cut or burn a design onto a material. The main components of this machine are a motor, spindle, control system and computer software.
Cnc Laser Machine: A CNC laser machine uses high-powered lasers or lamps to cut materials such as paper and plastic. These machines can be equipped with industrial-strength versions of the same optics used in printers that use raster graphics systems like Windows or Mac OS X.
Cnc Engraving Software: Software with advanced features lets you create custom logos and designs for your business cards, signs and other printed materials by drawing directly onscreen using your mouse or stylus pen; then generate finished files for printing by sending them directly from within the program to your printer device driver interface so that they print out exactly how they appear onscreen without any additional editing needed after printing has occurred except perhaps some trimming off excess margins if necessary (depending upon what type of paper stock is chosen).
Cnc Laser Machine
CNC Laser Machine
CNC laser cutting machines are very popular in today’s world. They can cut any material, and the result is always perfect. The machine uses a laser to do cutting or engraving on various materials such as wood, plastic and metals. The shape of the material is first designed using a computer-aided design (CAD) program; then the machine cuts or engraves based on that design.
3d engraving software
Starting from your design to the g code for your CNC machine, you’re going to need several CNC software applications:
We’ll cover a few paid products in addition to free options. You may spend more time with the software than your CNC mill, so it’s worth spending a few dollars if the paid software makes CNC machining easier.
We’ll limit our listing to software for a CNC router or CNC milling machine and avoid other machine types, like plasma cutters and laser cutters.
Free CAD software
CAD, which stands for Computer-Aided Design, is the CNC software that lets you draw your designs. There are many CAD software packages out there, but unfortunately, most of them are not free. Luckily there have been significant improvements in the free options over the past few years as 3D printing, which uses the same CAD program, has taken off.
FreeCAD is a completely free 3D CAD parametric program that’s become increasingly popular as 3D printers have become more popular. Like Alibre, it’s capable of creating very complicated designs with very high precision, but the user interface is much more complicated, and the learning curve will be much more difficult. It’s not necessarily what we’d recommend for a beginner, but it is free, so there’s no cost to try it.
The output from FreeCAD, STL, STEP, SVG, or DXF, can be sent to any of the CAM programs listed below.
In addition to it being freeware, if you really want to nerd out on CAD then the source code for FreeCAD is freely available.
FreeCAD runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Solvespace is another freeware 3D CAD program that’s got an almost cult-like following. It allows you to create 3D parts like FreeCAD but, because it’s got a somewhat limited custom CAD kernel, it is better suited to mechanical-looking parts that don’t have highly sculpted, organic surfaces.
The user interface is quirky but more simple than FreeCAD.
Solvespace can export STL or STEP files for a third-party CAM program.
Solvespace runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux, and the source code is freely available.
While not strictly a CAD package, Inkscape is very popular for 2D designs for CNC machining. It’s generally used more for artistic projects than precise mechanical work, but it should work for either if you have the patience.
Inkscape is similar to Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator but totally free. It exports SVG and DXF files for your CAM software.
Inkscape runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Inexpensive CAD Software
You can do a lot of great work with the programs listed above but it’s worth considering a commercial CAD program, particularly if you’re into 3D modeling.
Alibre Atom is a fully parametric, history-based CAD program that will let you create almost anything. It’s based on a commercial CAD kernel, so it’s very robust and reliable (and it comes with full support).
The learning curve is moderate, and they have higher-end versions available if you create products that need sheet metal designs or other complicated features.
Alibre Atom is downloaded software that you own; it is not cloud-based.
Alibre Atom costs approximately $200 USD and runs on Windows.
Free CAD/CAM software
The next step down the software chain is CAM software, which is responsible for taking your designs and creating a toolpath for the machine to follow to cut out your parts. There are many CAM programs out there, and most are very expensive. Writing a CAM program is very difficult, and the market is not huge, so they’re priced accordingly. Luckily, there are a few free cam software options out there.
Most CAM programs have at least limited, if not full, CAD ability built-in so we’ll note that in the descriptions below.
CAD/CAM programs come in two variants, 2D and 3D. 2D CAM programs are focused on creating tool paths for flat items without any surface curves. Examples of 2D parts might be gears or signs.
3D CAM programs are capable of taking any shape and creating a toolpath for it (subject to the limitations of your CNC machine)
Whether it’s 2D or 3D, the output from your CAM software will be a file called “gcode” or “g code”, which is a series of motion command that instruct your machine on how it should move to cut your part out.
Carbide Create V6 is a free 2D CAM software package that includes basic 2D CAD as well so that you can create your designs and take them all the way to G-code using nothing but Carbide Create. Carbide Create lets you load SVG or DXF files if you’d like to start from an external design and is able to create a variety of toolpath strategies:
Carbide Create runs on Windows or Mac computers, and it’s downloaded software that runs on your machine locally. It is not cloud-based.
Note that Carbide Create V6 is free for everyone but Carbide Create V7 is only free for Carbide 3D machines, like the Shapeoko CNC Router and Nomad. If you have another machine you can get Carbide Create Pro to use it with your CNC machine.
Easel is a free CAD/CAM program that includes a machine controller for GRBL-based CNC machines. In that way, it’s a complete CNC software package, as long as it suits your needs. It’s got a unique workflow where the design and the toolpath are the same things. This is different than most other CAD/CAM programs, where the tool paths are created separately from the design. This unique workflow makes Easel easier to start with, but it can limit the complexity of what you can create.
Easel is cloud-based, so it’ll run on almost any platform, but there’s no option to run it locally or offline. It’s totally cloud-based.
Makercam is a browser-based CAD/CAM program that lets you draw simple designs and create g code for your CNC machine. It requires a Flash plugin for your browser, so its time is probably limited as Flash is further phased-out but in the meantime, it’s still an option used by a lot of people.
Not-quite free CAM Software
While the free CAM software options are pretty good, it’s worth considering some of the less-expensive paid options if you want additional capabilities.
MeshCAM is a dedicated 3D CAM program that’s built to take external designs and generate g code. It doesn’t contain any CAD functionality. MeshCAM lets you load STL files from any common 3D CAD program and quickly create a toolpath for it. It includes a variety of toolpath strategies:
MeshCAM runs on Windows and Mac computers and does not require any cloud subscriptions or maintenance fees.
If you’re just looking to buy 3D STL files or 3D models for cnc on Etsy and cut them, MeshCAM is a good option.
Can you use lightburn with CNC
Before you go any further, start off by having your CNC (with installed laser module) powered up and connected via USB to your computer. With that done, start up LightBurn and either start a trial or enter your product key you received after purchase.
From there you will see a Device Discovery Wizard pop up as seen on the right which will automatically detect your machine and provide some information in regards to the work area and Com port; make sure to take note of the latter for your use further into this guide.
The third and final page shown above of the New Device Wizard is especially important to take notice of, because it must be set differently for 3018 Pro & PROVer machines:
Finish the Wizard and now at the software’s main page, look to the bottom right of your screen for the menu to the right. Select the noted com port from earlier.
Step 2: Preparing Your Project
LightBurn is a very versatile program with a lot of depth, and it’s important to note as you follow this guide that there are a number of ways to do what will be shown in different ways, each for different situations.
To start off, you need to bring your project into LightBurn. In this case a black and white image was selected for engraving, and a blue rectangle vector not shown to the left which will be used to cut the engraving out.
1. Open up the file you want to work with and you should see it represented in the work area. With the Image/File selected, look in your toolbar towards the right-hand side and find the “L” shaped bracket (Seen circled in red below.
2. For ease of use, set the Job Origin to the bottom-left position, and set “Start From:” to Current Position. Jointly, what this and the prior step do is arrange it so that wherever you have your laser position at when you hit play, is where the bottom left corner of your project will be. This a great quick-and-dirty way to do projects with minimal setup time.
3. Go to the command tab, type “$32=1” and hit enter; this will set your machine into Laser Mode. Be sure to Type in “32=0” when you are done. This will return it to CNC mode, which you must do before using the machine as a CNC again. Next go to the edit tab, select edit machine and change max spindle speed from 1000 to 255.
4. Fasten the material you will be working with on the bed, and use the arrows on the movement tab in LightBurn, move the laser in to place. To assist yourself in positioning, you can set your laser to fire at 0.0% to have it running while you find the corner of your materials. Not that this feature might have to be enabled in your software settings.
5. Keeping the laser firing at 0.35% and raise/lower the Z axis until your laser is in focus. Once done, deactivate your laser.
6. With this next step you need to assign power/speed settings to each layer. As seen in the image below, the imported JPG has one setting and the blue vector that was added has another. Assigning different colors to different aspects of a project opens up a lot of flexibility for users to create a variety of effects.
7. The last step before you tell your machine to get started is to consider the Mode settings for each layer. For our first layer, the image, there are no options, but for vectors like the 2nd layers, you have the option to tell the machine to perform a few different tasks:
8. You’re good to go! Press the play button and don’t forget to put on your protective eye-wear. Always make sure to stay with your machine for the entire operation in case of fire or some other malfunction.
What is the easiest CNC software to use
Best CNC Software for Beginners
Computer Numerical Control, or CNC programming, software creates program codes and instructions, which are used to run a CNC linked tool. Instructions reach the tool or machine via a computer. More often than not, CNC software works to enhance or automate the manufacturing process.
In specific, its programming software helps machines understand function and design. The design for what the machine creates is Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. The design is then translated into a language the machine understands by a Computer-Aided (CAM) software program.
Computer Numerical Control is not new. In fact, it has existed since the early 1970s when it was called Numerical Control or NC programming and flexibility. While this all sounds complicated, there are a few things to know about CNC software. Below we’re giving some information on the best CNC software for beginners.
What does CNC software do?
Working in place of or in tandem with other manufacturing processes, CNC software improves automation. It makes the products of manufacturing more accurate and consistent. As technology continues to change, these automation processes are vital in helping businesses to scale and produce more cost-effective products for customers.
CNC Software Applications
CNC has an effect on every facet of manufacturing. CNC machines replace or work with existing manufacturing processes.
First, operators use Computer-Aided Design software to create a design or utilize the templates provided on the CAD software.
This is a blueprint or drawing. Using CNC software, the “blueprints” for what you want your machine to produce are created. If you can envision a product, CNC machines can create it.
CAM software takes the CAD drawing file and creates a g-code. This is what your CNC machine requires to run its passes. The machine needs information about what work needs to be done. The machine also needs direction about feed and machine speed. The speed and feed calculator provides this input. Also built into your CNC software is a controller.
In a nutshell, CNC takes the data created by CAD. CAM puts it into a language your machines can understand and creates a g-code. Essentially, this means typing commands and having specialized machines execute it immediately.
So what is the final product? CNC machinists use machinery controlled by CNC software to produce parts and tools. These can be fabricated from a variety of materials including wood, metals, and plastics. The precision machinery performs tasks like slicing, cutting, grinding, milling, and drilling into and around material.
Besides parts and specialized pieces, CNC machines can produce signs, etchings, engravings, and unique products to suit clients’ special needs.
What are the basics beginners need to know?
The best CNC software for beginners allows users to know how to use the hardware on which the CNC software is loaded. They need an understanding of the machines which receive their cd.
It is imperative that beginners are able to use CNC software. They need to be able to create designs. Further, they need to be able to use CNC software to convert the designs they have accessed in the templates on the software or created using the software to g-code. These are sent to machines telling them what to do.
What do beginners need?
First, beginners need to find CAD software they can use comfortably and grow with. This is the first of the three software products they need. Because it is the first and the one they will be using the most, this one must be user-friendly. It can take a long time to master CAD programs. Without a positive experience with this software, the entire CNC software program is doomed.
There is no single CAD software program for everyone. Each operator has different skills and needs.
New CAD designers need a minimum of two weeks to become familiar with CAD software. During that time, they need software technicians who will provide knowledge and support.
Before using a CNC Machine, beginners need to spend time gaining expertise with CAD software.
Skilled technicians of the CNC software company generally provide training to those new users of CNC machines. Hands on experience, is the only true way to learn.
Competency in math, science, and computer skills are necessary. Knowledge of how the complex machines and tools work in the field is a bonus.
As CNC technicians become proficient in creating designs and sending them to their machines the CNC software company needs to be available to provide support when there are problems. They also need to encourage operators to become more adept at using the software by providing workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for the expansion of their learning and skills.