How to Convert to G-Code – The Ultimate Guide

Updated Oct 13, 2022
Convert files to G-code

1.0 Introduction

In this ultimate guide for converting files to g-code, we will delve in-depth to the raster and vector file types that you can convert to G-code.

We will discover how CNC machinists can further expand the files suitable for cnc cutting by converting their JPG, PNG, STL, DXF, DWG files (and more) to a G-code file format, including CNC, .NC and TAP.

Those who have constant requirements to convert files to G-code may wish to make-use of a batch conversion tool, this is software which will automatically convert a large number of files in a single operation. We will discuss how this is possible with suitable CAD/CAM batch conversion software.

This article also considers the requirements of users who wish to convert their files to g-code offline, by downloading and installing Windows or macOS software to convert their files. This ultimate guide is the prime destination for all machinists wishing to convert their files, therefore, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

2.0 What is G-Code?

Mostly all products these days are manufactured using a CNC machine. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control and is a machine that uses computer software to produce a product or object to a drawing specification. This process is commonly called Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).

CNC machines require inputs that the machine then translates into machining actions like drilling or cutting. The ability of a CNC system to execute these instructions is reliant on outputs from CAM software in the form of G-code.

There are multiple G-code file extensions produced by a range of different CAM software programs. However, regardless of extension, the file should contain the instructions to aid the manufacturing process.

To create G-code, CNC machinists can write the G-code program, alter existing one or generate a new program by converting CAD files to G-code.

3.0 Which file formats can be converted to G-Code?

There are many files that you can convert to G-Code from. We cover a number of them below.

3.1 How to convert STL to G-Code

STL is an acronym for STereoLithography, which is an industrial process of printing 3D models. Since STL was created in 1987, it has become the defacto format for 3D printing – something that was required due to the range of native file formats that can be created by CAD programs when 3D modelling. Most CAD packages can export to the STL format making the manufacturing or 3D printing process easier.

Dolphin Triangle Mesh

Dolphin triangle mesh (source)

STL is a 3D digital mesh that consists of triangles and this triangle tessellation (the interconnection of triangles) describes the surface of the model or object. The vertices in the mesh contain coordinate-based information of the model with the complexity and resolution of the model defined by the number of triangles. More triangles, more complexity.

Despite STL being a very useful and sophisticated format, it has drawbacks over G-Code, which you can read about in our guide to converting STL to G-Code. However, these drawbacks can be resolved by completing the STL to G-code conversion using a software known as a 3D slicer. Examples of common 3D slicing software include Ultimaker CuraSimplify3DFormWare, and ChiTuBox, just to mention a few.

As the name suggests, a 3D slicer essentially slices the 3D model into layers of a defined thickness. The software allows you to set the layer thickness as well as other settings such as the wall thickness, temperature of the extrusion, cooling, and more. The slicer then codifies the settings by creating a G-code file containing instructions that conform to your chosen settings. In that regard, you can use the G-code file generated to create a physical 3D representation of the model.

How to convert STL to G-Code in bulk?

You can also use the 3D slicer to convert in bulk. (Our discussion will mainly highlight how to use Ultimaker Cura as it is a popular and powerful freeware.) To convert STL to G-code in bulk, follow the procedure below:

  1. Launch your 3D slicing software
  2. Select the Top View or bird’s eye view perspectiveThe top view gives you a bird’s eye view of the workspace, which, in turn, represents the 3D printer’s bed.
  3. Import the first STL file containing the 3D model
  4. Change the 3D printing settings based on your preferences
  5. Move the imported 3D model within the workspace to create space for additional models
  6. Import the second, third, or even fourth 3D model, one at a timeWhile importing the additional models, ensure they do not overlap, as this would be problematic when you eventually print them. Instead, move them accordingly to ensure they occupy their own area within the workspace. The limit on the number of models you can add depends on the size of the workspace.
  7. Click the Slice button to begin the conversion
  8. Preview the sliced models to ensure they are perfect for 3D printing
  9. Save the converted models by exporting them as a G-code file.

How to convert STL to G-Code offline?

3D slicing programs, such as Ultimaker Cura, Simplify3D, FormWare, and ChiTuBox, enable you to convert STL to G-code offline. All you need to do is launch the software, choose the appropriate settings, click the ‘slice’ button to cut the model into layers, and export the sliced model as a G-code file.

However, before embarking on the conversion, it is vital to recognize that each software is suited for a specific 3D printing technology. For instance, Ultimaker Cura and Simplify3D, a premium program, are ideal for Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). On the other hand, ChiTuBox and Formware are used for Stereolithography (SLA).

Of course, the utility of the STL file format is not only limited to 3D printing. It can be used in CNC milling. If you want to convert STL to G-code for CNC, you can use MeshCAM. This software is designed to create a toolpath that will enable the CNC machine to mill or cut the physical 3D object. And thanks to its built-in post-processing, MeshCAM can transform the G-code generated to work with your CNC machine.

How to convert STL to G-Code on mobile or tablet?

It is not common for CAD designers to use mobile applications to create their designs. There has, therefore, not been a high demand for mobile phone or tablet applications that could provide this capability. This explains the lack of a dedicated app to convert STL to G-code on mobile or tablet. In fact, Ultimaker Cura, which does have a mobile app, has designed its application to be used to monitor and manage 3D printing jobs, not to slice 3D models for printing.

Nonetheless, if you have no alternative, you can use an online file converter such as AnyConv. But online tools lack the comprehensiveness of desktop converters. For instance, AnyConv does not enable you to change settings that could improve the quality of the 3D print.

3.2 How to convert OBJ to G-Code

Short for the word ‘Object,’ OBJ is a file format used in 3D printing, 3D graphics design and modelling, and game development. It defines 3D geometry as well as color and texture. The color and texture properties make this format ideal for printing colored 3D objects. In this way, OBJ differs from the STL format, which does not contain color or texture information. However, OBJ is less common or universal than STL. As a result, it is supported by fewer 3D software than STL.

As an ASCII-based file format, OBJ represents the 3D objects and models in a file using alphanumeric characters and special symbols. These characters and symbols form part of mathematical equations that define tessellated polygons that, combined, form the outer surface of the 3D model. The equations represent elements such as the polygons’ vertices, points, faces, curves, free-form surfaces, lines, and more. The formulae and characters define the virtual limits of a 3D model, which can be transformed into a physical 3D object through 3D printing.

However, to 3D print an OBJ file, you have to undertake a few steps. Key among the steps is what is known as slicing, which simply refers to the process of converting OBJ to G-code. Completed using software known as 3D slicers, slicing entails dividing the vertical layout of a 3D model into layers of a defined thickness. The 3D printer will then print each layer individually. And it is the combination of these individually printed layers that create a physical 3D object.

You can use different tools to convert OBJ to G-code in bulk, offline, and on mobile or tablet. We have discussed each of these conversion approaches below.

How to convert OBJ to G-Code in bulk?

You can use a 3D slicer to convert OBJ to G-code in bulk following the procedure below:

  1. Launch the 3D slicer and select the top view/bird’s-eye view
  2. Import the OBJ files, one at a time, arranging them within the workspace to ensure they do not overlap
  3. Set the 3D printing settings according to your preferences and the nature of your 3D printer
  4. Click ‘slice’ to begin the slicing process
  5. Preview the sliced models to ensure they are perfect for 3D printing
  6. Export the sliced models as G-code

How to convert OBJ to G-Code offline?

3D slicing software such as Ultimaker Cura enable you to convert OBJ to G-code. Simply import the OBJ file into a 3D slicer, set the 3D printing settings, slice the 3D model, and, finally, export the sliced model as a G-code to complete the conversion.

But it is worth pointing out that not all slicers support OBJ. This is because OBJ is not as universal and popular as the STL file format. In instances where the slicer you are using does not support the OBJ format, you can utilize offline conversion tools to convert OBJ to STL. Next, you can use a 3D slicer to convert STL to G-code.

However, the OBJ to STL conversion greatly diminishes the quality and resolution of the 3D model. This is because, whereas OBJ stores co and texture information, the STL file format does not. So, the conversion will delete this critical information, creating a lower-quality STL file.

How to convert OBJ to G-Code on mobile or tablet?

Most developers of CAD software opt out of creating mobile versions of these programs. After all, the workflow of designers and engineers rarely involves the use of mobile phones unless when communicating with different stakeholders. This fact is evident with 3D slicers as well. And coupled with the fact that OBJ is not as universal as the STL format, the issue is compounded even further.

But that is not to say that you cannot convert OBJ to G-code on mobile or tablet. Of course, you can. However, you have to use a longer route that involves converting OBJ to STL for slicing. Next, you then have to convert STL to G-code. To complete this indirect conversion on mobile or tablet, you can use an online converter such as AnyConv. Unfortunately, by uploading the files to the file converter’s server, you surrender control of the files. This approach may, therefore, not be feasible when working with sensitive files.

3.3 How to convert DWG to G-Code

DWG, or Drawing, is a binary vector file format that stores 3D and 2D drawing data in addition to metadata such as headers, settings, dictionaries, classes, and more. It is the default file format for AutoCAD. A proprietary format owned and maintained by the CAD behemoth Autodesk, DWG is not based on an open specification like DXF, which Autodesk also developed.

Instead, its source code and definitions are closely guarded and can only be used upon purchasing a license to the RealDWG library. But software developers have made efforts to reverse engineer the source code with much success. Even so, AutoCAD displays an error message whenever it detects that a DWG file was not created using the code found in the RealDWG library.

DWG is used to create and render 2D drawings and 3D models. Designers, architects, and engineers using CAD software that support DWG can also collaborate without having to convert their files to other file formats.

2D Image Printed Using a 3D Printer

2D Image Printed Using a 3D Printer (source)

But the utility of DWG is restricted as the file format is primarily used for design. For example, it cannot be deployed directly in CNC machining or 3D printing. CNC machines and 3D printers cannot read or interpret DWG files, but they can follow the instructions contained in G-code. This points to the need to convert DWG to G-code. And there are several ways you can complete such conversions: in bulk or offline using Scan2CAD. In fact, Scan2CAD goes a step further by enabling you to convert DWG to G-code with accurate scaling.

How to convert DWG to G-Code in bulk?

The Scan2CAD Business package offers a number of powerful options and features, one of which is the bulk conversion of DWG to G-code. As a subscriber to this package, you can use Scan2CAD’s powerful automation tool that lets you automate any feature as well as batch convert multiple DWG files to G-code. In fact, Scan2CAD automation accords you the ability to run conversions on thousands of files using a few clicks. Alternatively, you can integrate Scan2CAD technology into your solution via an API.

Scan2CAD’s automation capabilities are anchored in a  powerful Python API. And Scan2CAD has provided all the necessary documentation to enable you to understand how to use the tool as well as the API.

How to convert DWG to G-Code offline?

Scan2CAD, a leading file conversion tool, enables you to convert DWG to G-code. As a desktop software, Scan2CAD does not require you to have an internet connection in order to complete the conversion. Instead, you simply have to download the program – you require an internet connection for this – and install it.

To convert DWG to G-code offline using Scan2CAD, follow the procedure below:

  1. Launch Scan2CAD
  2. Import the DWG file into Scan2CAD by clicking the Open a file button
  3. Click the Export button As DWG is already a vector file format, you do not need to use Scan2CAD vectorization tools.
  4. Save the file using any of the three G-code file formats, namely .tap, .nc, or .cnc

Alternatively, you can use software such as ABViewer by CADSoftTools (Soft Gold LTD.) ABViewer lets you make changes to the G-code settings. For instance, you can choose the machine type, whether or not to optimize the code, the direction of the passes, the diameter and length of the machining tools, and more.

How to convert DWG to G-Code on mobile or tablet?

Currently, no mobile or tablet application exists that enables you to convert DWG to G-code. In addition, most online file converters do not support the conversion from DWG to G-code. As such, you cannot use this option to complete this conversion.

The logic behind the lack of a DWG to G-code converter on mobile lies in the fact that G-code is mainly used for CNC machining or 3D printing. CNC machines and 3D printers are primarily driven or controlled by desktop computers. Thus, desktop software programs that support DWG to G-code conversions are bound to exist as they serve an existing market. Creating a mobile application that achieves this function would not serve any market as there is no demand for the same.

3.4 How to convert DXF to G-Code

DXF, an abbreviation for Drawing eXchange Format, is a vector file format that stores vector graphics using ASCII text or binary. (This means there are ASCII DXF files – which are more widely used – and binary DXF files.) As we have highlighted above, DXF was created by Autodesk as a way of enabling collaboration. Little wonder then that the DXF format specification and documentation have been openly published to ensure more CAD software support it.

Since its creation in the early 1980s, the DXF format has primarily been used to transfer drawings and design details among designers, builders, engineers, architects, and suppliers. However, teams working in the 3D printing and CNC machining spaces cannot use it to transfer instructions for their machines or 3D printers. For the design details to be used in these scenarios, the DXF files must first be converted to G-code.

You can use various approaches and tools to convert DXF to G-code. For instance, if you are working with hundreds or even thousands of files, you might consider solutions that support batch conversions. Similarly, if you do not have an internet connection, you might want to choose desktop software that can complete the conversion offline. In the below section, we detail how to convert DXF to G-code in bulk and offline software.

Of the different conversion solutions in the market today, Scan2CAD stands distinct. It enables you to export DXF files as G-code. In addition, Scan2CAD includes tools that, when used, allow you to convert DXF to G-code with accurate scaling.

How to convert DXF to G-Code in bulk?

The Scan2CAD Business package offers you the ability to run thousands of conversions. Using this batch conversion, you can convert multiple DXF files to G-code in bulk. And even more intriguingly, you can automate these conversions using Scan2CAD’s powerful Python API. Automating Scan2CAD is a three-step process that starts with creating a script file. Next, add the required processes that capture the batch conversion of DXF files to G-code. To complete this second step, you have to refer to the documentation, which contains a full list of commands. Lastly, execute the Scan2CAD program and the script.

How to convert DXF to G-Code offline?

A leading conversion tool, Scan2CAD is a desktop software that enables you to convert DXF to G-code offline. Specifically, Scan2CAD allows you to export the DXF file using a number of G-code file formats, namely .nc, .cnc, and .tap. Follow the procedure outlined in the ‘How to convert DWG to G-code offline’ section above – substituting DWG with DXF – to complete the DXF to G-code conversion using Scan2CAD.

Alternatively, you can use desktop software such as ABViewer, Carbide Create, or DXF2GCODE to convert 2D DXF drawings to CNC machine-compatible G-code. And if you want to convert a 2D DXF drawing to 3D before converting it to G-code, you can use MeshCAM. MeshCAM lets you extrude the 2D drawing, creating a 3D model.

How to convert DXF to G-Code on mobile or tablet?

As with DWG, you cannot convert DXF to G-code on mobile or tablet. This is because most online converters, or, more accurately, all the online file converters we have sampled so far, do not support the conversion. At the same time, there are no mobile applications that enable you to convert DXF to G-code.

And as stated, the lack of such applications or mobile tools emanates from the fact that most CNC functions are controlled using desktop computers. Furthermore, the workflow of machinists and people undertaking 3D printers rarely revolves around the use of mobile phones.

3.5 How to convert JPG to G-Code

An abbreviation for the Joint Photographic Experts Group, JPG or JPEG is a raster file format used to digitally store 2D images using the lossy compression method. As a lossy format, JPG offers a higher level of compression than PNG, a factor that comparatively reduces its quality.

This image format was introduced in 1992 and has grown to be the world’s most widely used image standard. In fact, by default, your mobile phone camera saves all its images using JPG. Additionally, Common Crawl ranks JPG as the third most popular image format on the web.

This popularity has been influenced by the benefits of the JPG file format. Firstly, JPG files are highly compressible, meaning they can take up less disc space. This small file size makes JPG one of the best formats for web-based images. This is because it will require additional resources that may slow down the loading speed. At the same time, JPGs support variable compression. This means you select different degrees of compression based on your needs. Thirdly, JPG images are compatible with virtually all devices and can be imported into a majority of the software.

But when compared to vector file formats, JPG does not offer the same level of quality – the quality and resolution drop significantly the more you zoom into a given section. Furthermore, while a variety of devices and software, including 3D printers, support the JPG format, the format can only be used to transfer or represent an image. As such, you cannot import a JPG file directly into a 3D printer with the intention of using it directly to create a physical model. Instead, you must first convert JPG to G-code. And as with the other file formats, there are various ways to complete the conversion.

How to convert JPG to G-Code in bulk?

Scan2CAD’s automation feature again comes in handy when you want to control any feature of the software. Using a simple but powerful Python API, whose documentation Scan2CAD has availed, you can run a batch conversion that will see you convert JPG to G-code in bulk. As with the DXF to G-code conversion, the batch conversion of JPG to G-code follows a three-step process that begins with creating a script file.

On the Scan2CAD documentation page, you will observe several scripts listed. These example scripts include converting raster images and converting raster image with outline vectorization method. The latter allows you to generate vector lines or polygons along the borders of the connected raster cells, thus creating a vector outline of the edges. The former does not include this capability.

How to convert JPG to G-Code offline?

You can convert JPG to G-code using Scan2CAD or MeshCAM. Scan2CAD converts the raster image to a vector drawing through automated image tracing. Both also allow you to change the threshold (black and white scale). It also offers a superior conversion because it has additional tools such as Remove speckles & holes, Thicken lines, and Smooth. These tools enable you to clean up the image before vectorizing it, which ensures the converted drawing is of the highest quality possible.

On the other hand, MeshCAM converts JPG to G-code by first creating a 3D model from the 2D image. Next, this software uses a process known as extrusion to form a new dimension. Finally, it converts the extruded image to G-code. And as stated, it uses post-processing to ensure the G-code works with your preferred CNC machine.

How to convert JPG to G-Code on mobile or tablet?

There is currently no application or online file converter that enables you to directly convert JPG to G-code. But you can get around this problem by first converting JPG to STL. Then, using AnyConv online file converter, convert STL to G-code. But it is worth noting that this approach may not always succeed as STL is used to represent 3D models, while JPG primarily stores 2D data.

The online file converter would therefore have to extrude the 2D drawing. But this creates another issue as the online file converters do not let you preview the extruded drawing or dictate how the extrusion should be conducted. So you have to work with what has been delivered, yet, in most cases, it is not usable. We, therefore, recommend that you use desktop conversion tools, as this approach also protects your sensitive files.

3.6 How to convert PNG to G-Code

Cad drawing to cnc machine flowchart

PNG, or Portable Network Graphics, is a raster file format that stores lossless, portable, compressed, bit-mapped images. In this regard, the PNG specification, which defines the PNG format, supports lossless compression. Compared to JPG’s lossy compression, PNG’s lossless method reconstructs the image data without losing any information. This means PNG images are higher quality than JPG images.

PNG was first introduced in 1996. Its development aimed to improve and replace the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). Though possibly unintentional, the improvements gave rise to numerous advantages that have cemented PNG’s superiority over other raster file types, particularly the JPG and GIF. For instance, PNGs maintain better detail and color contrast than JPGs. They also boast better text readability than JPGs. PNGs also offer a wide color depth, support transparency, and are ideal for editing images.

But when compared to vector image formats like SVG or CAD design formats like DXF and DWG, PNG lags a tad behind, particularly when it comes to resolution. Scaling up a PNG image distorts the quality, as it makes the image appear more pixelated.

At the same time, PNG images cannot be used directly to print 3D objects or create objects using CNC machines. This is because 3D printers and CNC machines can only read and interpret G-code, which contains instructions that govern their movements. Fortunately, you can go around this problem by converting PNG to G-code.

How to convert PNG to G-Code in bulk?

You can use Scan2CAD to convert PNG to G-code in bulk. All you have to do is to subscribe to the Business package. Next, you may want to check out Scan2CAD’s documentation page, which gives insights on the Python scripts you can use. Generally, Scan2CAD’s batch conversion is an automated process that can convert thousands of PNG files to G-code or any other vector format. This automation relies on the power of a Python API.

To convert PNG to G-code in bulk, create a script file. Next, add the PNG to G-code conversion processes to the script. Finally, execute the Scan2CAD application as well as the script.

How to convert PNG to G-Code offline?

Scan2CAD enables you to convert PNG to G-code offline. This program allows you to clean up the image before converting it. And unlike some other CAD software that require you to manually trace over the outline of the drawing in the image, Scan2CAD undertakes automatic image tracing. This bolsters accuracy and saves time. It is noteworthy, however, that the use of Scan2CAD to convert PNG to G-code offline is limited to 2D drawings.

If you want to create a 3D drawing from a PNG image, you can use MeshCAM. This CNC software can load image files and subsequently generate G-code. Then, it converts the imported images to 3D surfaces that can be machined directly using a CNC machine.

How to convert PNG to G-Code on mobile or tablet?

Our research did not uncover a mobile application that can enable you to convert PNG to G-code on mobile or tablet. However, you can follow an indirect conversion using online file converters such as AnyConv, which can be accessed using a smartphone’s or tablet’s browser.

You can convert PNG to STL followed by an STL to G-code conversion. But we reiterate that this approach is likely to yield a few problems. For instance, the 3D model generated by the conversion may not accurately portray the original 2D image contained in the PNG file. This will ultimately lead to an inaccurate G-code when you finally execute the STL to G-code conversion.

In other cases, the PNG to STL conversion may not even create a 3D model. Instead, all you will get is a blank STL file in greyscale. Given these possible issues, coupled with the fact that you surrender control of your files, we advise against using online converters.

3.7 How to convert SVG to G-Code

Short for Scalable Vector Graphics, SVG is a digital vector format that stores graphics and text in Extensible Markup Language (XML) files. The graphics are defined by mathematical formulas based on geometrical shapes such as lines, circles, and curves that are laid over a cartesian plane. This means the quality of the images does not change however much you resize them. As a result, SVG files are preferred by web designers and graphic designers who wish to exploit the format’s resizing capabilities.

Generally, the SVG format is primarily used to display 2D illustrations, logos, charts, infographics and graphics on websites. And being XML-based, it can be created or edited using either text editors or vector graphics software. In addition, it can be rendered by software that can interpret XML files, including web browsers.

But as with the other image formats, SVG cannot be directly imported into CNC machines or 3D printers with the aim of creating the objects represented therein. Therefore, it is crucial first to convert SVG to G-code.[/su_spoiler]

How to convert SVG to G-Code in bulk?

If you are looking to convert multiple SVG files to G-code for 2D laser cutting machines, you can use LightBurn Software. A layout, editing, and control software for laser cutters, LightBurn allows you to import several SVG files. You can then arrange the imported shapes within the editor as well as edit them according to your preferences. Lastly, LightBurn allows you to send the edited files directly to a laser cutter.

That said, you cannot convert multiple SVG files to G-code for 3D machines using software that supports the SVG file format, TinkerCAD and Fusion360, both created by Autodesk.

How to convert SVG to G-Code offline?

To convert SVG to G-code for 2D machines, you can use LightBurn or LaserGRBL, which are desktop software for laser cutting and laser engraving, respectively. Alternatively, you can use Carbide Create, which lets you import one or more SVG files. To create a G-code file using Carbide Create, simply click the Toolpaths tab and then click Save Toolpaths. Then, on the Save Location pop-up window, select Save as G-code. This feature is, however, only available to paying users.

If you wish to complete the conversion with the intention of using the G-code on 3D machines, you can use MeshCAM. This software enables you to extrude 2D drawings, creating 3D models. It then creates efficient toolpaths that can be saved as G-code.

How to convert SVG to G-Code on mobile or tablet?

Currently, there is no mobile application that can enable you to convert SVG to G-code on mobile or tablet. Nonetheless, you can use your mobile browser to access online file converters such as AnyConv or SVG2STL. First, you have to convert the SVG file to STL. Next, you can use AnyConv to convert STL to G-code.

However, online file converters do not always safeguard the privacy and security of your uploaded files. For instance, some do not stipulate how long your files will remain stored on their servers. Furthermore, in instances where they do state, you may not be able to confirm whether they have indeed deleted the files. Therefore, it is prudent to avoid them altogether or limit their use only when necessary.

4.0 FAQ

4.1 Why convert to G-Code?

G-code is one of the industry-standard file formats for CNC machines. The power in the format lies in its simplicity, unlike many other formats, the code of the G-code file format can be read by the human eye. This somewhat simple format contains the instructions for CNC machines including the direction, depth and rotation of the cutting machine. There are many more such ‘codes’ within the G-code file structure which defines all aspects of a CNC machine’s cutting movement. Given the benefits of g-code files for CNC machine users, if they have a design which they wish to cut, that is not in G-code format, they can convert this file to g-code using conversion software such as Scan2CAD.

4.2 How can I save a file as G-Code?

To save a file as g-code you must first convert the file to confirm to the G-code file structure. Most typically, CNC machinists wish to convert raster images (such as JPG, TIFF, PNG etc.) to G-code so that they may cut the design contained in their raster image with their CNC machine. The conversion of a raster image to g-code requires a raster-to-vector conversion software, such as Scan2CAD. After the image is converted to the g-code file structure, the user may save (or export) the file to a g-code file extension, such as .nc, .cnc and .tap.

4.3 What software can be used to open G-Code files?

G-code files are designed for CNC machines, controlling every aspect of the CNC machine’s movements. Therefore almost all CNC viewers, controllers or design software applications will support G-code files.

Applications which support G-code files will most-likely have the ability to open files with the .nc, .cnc and .tap extensions. This is because the file specification for files with these extensions is identical.

Some software applications which open g-code files include:

  • Blaze3D (Free. Available for Windows & Linux)
  • GCode Viewer (Free. Available for web)
  • NCViewer (Free. Available for web)
  • G-Wizard (Premium. Available for Windows)
  • NCPlot (Premium. Available for Windows)
  • CIMCO Edit (Premium. Available for Windows)
  • Which software can be used to edit G-Code files?

The list of g-code file editors is smaller than the list of g-code file viewers. Viewing the contents of a G-code file is a much more simplistic requirement than offering the complexity of editing the contents of a G-code file, especially if the software is editing in such a way that is optimal for the CNC machine’s cutting. Many G-code editing applications will run simulations of the cutting path proposed by the design held within the g-code file. After the simulation is complete, the application may provide recommendations to optimize the design for the best and least-wasteful cut.

Some software applications which open g-code files include:

  • Blaze3D (Free. Available for Windows & Linux)
  • G-Wizard (Premium. Available for Windows)
  • NCPlot (Premium. Available for Windows)
  • CIMCO Edit (Premium. Available for Windows)

4.4 Why should you avoid online G-Code converters?

There are very few online websites which offer to convert raster images (such as JPG, TIFF, PNG etc.) to G-code. There are few such solutions because there are many pitfalls in attempting to convert an image to G-code online.

In order to convert an image to g-code, the software must first perform an accurate raster-to-vector conversion and subsequently convert the vector paths within the vector image to cut-friendly paths written in a G-code file.

This is a very complex procedure which cannot realistically be achieved with a free online converter website. Instead a user should utilize an offline software application which they will download and install on their Windows or macOS computer. This software will make-us of the power of the computer’s processing to perform complex and accurate conversions of the images to g-code. One such solution us Scan2CAD.

5.0 Conclusion

In this ultimate guide, we have discovered how CNC machinists have almost limitless options for converting their raster and vector files to g-code.

From vector file formats such as DXF and DWG to raster image file formats such as PNG and JPG, they may all be converted to G-code by utilizing suitable software. As discussed in this article, the unique capabilities of g-code files make them one of the default files types for controlling CNC machines. The vast majority of CNC controller and editing software applications support the three primary g-code file formats (i.e. .CNC, .NC and .TAP.)

Given the vast advantages of converting ones’ files to G-code, it may come as no surprise that many CNC machinists have attempted to perform their conversions using free online g-code conversion websites. However, as we have discussed in this article, users have found that the online conversion solutions are not accurate and not secure. Instead users opt to download software to convert their files to G-code with a Windows or macOS computer. With the introduction of CAD/CAM conversion software, users have many new options for creating suitable ‘cut-friendly’ CNC designs.

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