View Full Version : recommended 3d model software for cnc cutting?

31-12-2011, 12:19 AM
Hi guys
i make various cabinets from sheet wood that i CNC. looking for a software package i can create a model in 3d then export the seperate panels to a sheet for cnc cutting. is this possible? would be much easier than drawing in 2d working out screw holes etc.. and not knowing exactly what it will look like till its put together.


31-12-2011, 10:16 AM
I use Autocad to create 3d solid drawings and then rotate each component into a single plane and extract the edges. I save this 2D outline as a dxf that my CAM program can use (Cut2d by Vectric).
Solid works is also popular but depends on your budget. Google sketchup is free and can apparently create 3d drawings but reading about it you need to buy the pro version to export dxf and dwg. You therefore need to check that the cad program you choose can export the file type required by your cam program.
There is a learning curve for 3d but it certainly makes life easier for complex drawings.

31-12-2011, 10:47 AM
It sounds like what you want to cut is 2.5D, not 3D:


If it's actually 3D then you may well need the model as an *.stl file as most CAM programs accept that.
For 2.5D the free edition of Cambam (http://www.cambam.info/downloads/) is good, or Vcarve and various software by Vectric.

But it looks like you're after something that does this automatically from a 3D model. I don't think you'll get that without spending a lot.

31-12-2011, 11:41 AM
Inkscape has a gcode plug-in that works really well and is free also


31-12-2011, 11:42 AM
And don't forget Heekscad

31-12-2011, 12:02 PM
Like Routercnc I've found the best way of working if you need to see complete 3D assembly or work with 3D model is to create the components (or panels in your case) as individual 3D models on a single X/Y plane saving as seperate file. Then use these to make up an essembly of finished design to check every thing fits and looks ok, again saving as seperate file if needed.
Unlike routercnc thou I don't save extracted lines out as DXF's. When I want to cut 2D I just extract the edge's onto another layer and use these for the tool paths. If I want to engrave or cut 2.5D or 3D then just use the edges and surfaces of the model. All this is done from the same model which loads into my cam software.

Doing it like this you then creat a library of components that can be mixed matched and re-used at any time or used as template to be modified for one off custom's. It works good for ME.!

The modles are drawn and assembled mostly in Rhino and then loading into Bobcad Cam to create toolpaths. Bobcad can create 3D models but it's hard work compared to Rhino, to be honest it's not the best at anything (2D's not bad thou) but it creates the G-code I need ok and without fuss. . . . I wouldn't recommend someone buy it thou, the companys SHIT.!!

If I need straight 2D then 99% of the time draw straight inside Bobcad as it's quite good at this and I can go straight to cam. I can draw and have G-code produced for simple stuff like gantry sides, motor mounts even doors,draws or panels etc in minutes.

01-01-2012, 04:28 PM
Google sketchup is free and can apparently create 3d drawings but reading about it you need to buy the pro version to export dxf and dwg.
There is always my free DXF export plugin for sketchup - I would urge anyone to try it before buying the pro version - lots of people use it as part of their CNC software tool chain.

Link: Free export plugin Sketchup to DXF or STL files (http://www.guitar-list.com/download-software/convert-sketchup-skp-files-dxf-or-stl)

As far as the original topic goes - it might be possible to do something like this in Sketchup - if its a basic box shape you could model the 3D cabinet and then unfold it flat using something like the Sketchup flattery plugin (http://www.pumpkinpirate.info/flattery/) -, then perhaps explode the panels to space them ready for cutting then export the DXF.

But I think it would be easier just to do the whole thing in a 2D cad program from the start.