View Full Version : NEW MEMBER: Morning All

04-03-2012, 10:24 AM
Good Morning
My Name is Mark & I live in sunny Barnsley ?, I am a complete newbie to CNC machining , I understand the computer connections ISH .. But the actual work flow in programming is taking some getting to grips with, Can any one recommend a good book , I spotted some on Amazon .. but donít want to waste my cash ..Any suggestion would be welcome.... Within reason !

Many thanks


05-03-2012, 04:28 AM
Hi Mark,
What exactly would you like to program? Are you after a good G-Code book that shows you practical code and how to do particular things?
A few years ago I bought a book from Amazon by Peter Smid called CNC Programming Handbook, 2nd Edition and it is pretty much the bible on G-Code programming with a lot of in depth tutorials and examples. I have had my copy for around 6 years and still find it helpful on many occasions.

As with any technical book there will always be the boredom factor associated with it if you read it like a novel but if you use it for a reference book then I can think of no other one to buy.
Mind you , I have only bought 3 books on programming but this one is really useful, and do read the feedback on Amazon and make your own choice. Keep it by your machine for reference.
I hope others on this forum have bought similar books as well and can shed some light on the subject and you don't just use my judgement.
It's a very expensive book and you may be able to find a cheap 2nd hand one out there for a lot less if you start looking around or even advertise.

05-03-2012, 04:38 PM
Hi Rich
Many thanks for replying ....Now where to begin ... I have been looking around for the last few weeks at some of the programmes etc like Mach 3 and lazy cam to run with a KX3 mill , and its got me scratching my head , I have done bits and bobs on cad but nothing as complex as this sort of stuff most of the stuff I did went off and some other poor soul had to do the programming. I suppose I am looking for a Dummies guide sort of thing as a lead in ... before I ask too many stupid question of which I have a million :confused:.
I suppose the ultimate would be to watch some one work through the process and see how its done on a simple level ... I have been stood at the side of some big multi Axis stuff with powered tools etc that to me looked like they had dropped it off from NASA, whilst the guy explained this that and the other whilst it machined one of my job and I stood and watched like a kid in a sweet shop waiting for the first off to drop off the belt!! and the production manager fumed away like a capstan full strength !!

Once again thanks for your help


06-03-2012, 10:35 AM
You have to look at what you are going to do with CNC and what area you need to branch into. A lot of people and businesses only need 2 1/2D where the tool drops to a certain depth you've programmed for that particular job and then the tool follows the path you created in X,Y coordinates. There are a lot of fairly cheap, and free, programs out there that can do 2 1/2D. Turbo Cad would suit your needs for this type of designing but it's STL implementation for 3D work is pretty slow when designing. STL is probably one of the most widely used formats in CAD programming for 3D work but now with the advent of solid modelling a lot of CAM programs work straight out of the solid modelling programs to generate the tool paths. These would be way out of your price tag if you are just starting out. Think $5000 plus for the Cad and Cam packages.

I used to use TurboCad V15 but now use CorelDraw X4 because it is way better for the laser cutting programs I have and the drawing is also a lot easier to get used to. I haven't paid for the other upgrades of TurboCad as it was just costing me too much every time a new version came out and the 3D functionality of it is pretty darn hard to use. I have used Rhinoceros a couple of times and it's a great little program and has a very good following and if I had the money I would buy that in a second. You can download a copy and use it for 25 saves which is the best trial for a software product out there. It's pretty easy to use and very capable. If your computer stuffs up and you have to reformat then you can run it again, as I have about 5 times.
Aspire is another program that I would like to have which can do 2 1/2D as well as full 3D and is a rival of the premier 3D program ArtCamPro and is in the range of the home user. For the price there probably isn't a better program out there that I know of but I haven't looked around for a while so there are probably another 2 dozen out there I don't know of that are equally capable.

My CAM software is DeskProto V5 from Lex Lennings in Holland and that is a great little and versatile program too. This converts the drawing into G-Code for it to be used in the machine controller program. It can do flat, rotary, double sided, and N sided where you set the number of sides it can cut. It's fast and the code is very good and clean and you can set up code snippets at the start of the G-Code as well as at the end of it to suit your work style or machining environment. Lex had a sale on about 1 year ago and sold the full version for about $800 off the full price as long as it was only used for home use. I snapped up a copy with haste.

Then comes Mach3 or EMC for the machine controller. I haven't used EMC but it is popular with the Linux people and I think it is free.
Mach3 is cheap at about $150 and is very versatile and open ended. People are continually upgrading it with add-ons and more functionality.
One of the best and also one of the worst things about Mach3 is it is so configurable. You can change almost anything in the program yourself (with a lot of study) and use it to control just about anything you can think of. I haven't got the time to do any programming so I just use the basic set up and a couple of plug-ins..

I hope some other people here let you know what they use and as I have said before I haven seen what's out there for ages. The CAD package is probably where you will have the most choice and the most head scratching over as there are so many out there.
Here, below, is one site with a few to choose from. You would probably only need the lite versions to start with and work your way up to a full package when you work out which direction you can go.


If your taste runs towards wood work and 3D designs then have a look here. http://www.for3d.ru and scroll down to the Chief's office. Absolutely stunning work and it's all for sale at a price.
In my view it's THE premier 3D file site on the web and it's here I get most of my 3D files from. I just can't draw 3D stuff any better and in comparison I create stick figures. I think they use a combination of ArtCamPro and 3D StudioMax to do their drawings.

Just some of the programs I have listed here will set you back a pretty penny.
Some of the other people here will let you know of the free stuff you can get. I'm pretty sure there is a lot of it out there with differing levels of ease of use.

Some links to sites with content.



And here is a site with some G-Code explanations.


This will keep you going for a while.

Remember that little kid grin you had on your face when you were watching that CNC mill at work? Be prepared to have on on your face for a lot longer when you finally get one of your own machines up and running.
The sky is your limit ( or probably your cheque book)


06-03-2012, 02:59 PM
Hi Rich
Many thanks for the very informative reply and taking time out to help me , I have included a copy of a screen shot that a design chap put together for me a while ago.. He drew it up for me as a favour during his lunch time last year , I passed him a stack of photography books and helping him out with a camera... I have a STL file for it and can open it with a copy of freemill.. The part needs some re work but I cant see that as a problem back to the design chaps, which should not cost too much as I have the file already.
This is the type of thing I would like to make , it will be made from Acetal along with about another 7 or 8 jobs I am working on , I was made redundant in the middle of last year so the parts are for some equipment I am working on. I have had some of the parts out for quote from some of the engineering companies I used in the past but the prices that come back are a little frightening .. To be honest they are small batch work thatís probably more of a pain to make.. which I fully understand ... I have made up a test part by hand ď knife and forking it ď has my friend Ray would have said . Would this be classed as 3d or 2 Ĺ d

Many Thanks for everyoneís help so far


06-03-2012, 08:14 PM
Mark check your PM's but depending which side of barnsley I only live 8 miles away maybe less.!!

So come have a cuppa, bring your acetal and we'll knock them off in no time. They are 2D/2.5D by the way.

07-03-2012, 12:50 PM
I reckon if you can machine a solid with straight sides that just have depth or pockets/protrusions then it would be a 2 1/2D part. Your part has pockets (holes) in the sides as well but that just means you need to turn the part through 90 deg to do the drilling or milling for them. So it is still 2 1/2D.
5 axis machines would pump these things out like there is no tomorrow.
3D parts have curved surfaces or complex surfaces like the parts from for3d on the Russian site. They are all 3D.
The manufacturers would be charging you for set up time and programming the part. The actual part is pretty easy to make but making a jig or setting it up in a vice accurately every time is where the money comes into it. And you are right, they don't make much money on small runs so usually go for the larger runs to maximise profit.
I think with Jazz being so close you will have a viable machine up and running in no time. Certainly a lot quicker that it would have been for me years ago.

I can see a smile developing. he he.!!


07-03-2012, 02:53 PM
HI Rich
yes Things are beginning to make a little more sense know , Going to try and catch up with Jazz today.. Just on my way back out on a couple more service calls.

Once again thanks to you , Jazz and the rest of the CNC group ..

Best regards