Text engraving workflow for linuxCNC

After having a CNC machine for a couple months, I’ve quickly realized that the hardest part is not putting the machine together and getting it to operate correctly, but making the g-code and getting the program to operate correctly on the machine.

Given that, I’d like to share my workflow from a TrueType font to the CNC machine using all open source software. I’ve installed over 20 different open source programs, all related to CNC, CAD, CAM, etc,… Some software looks promising but isn’t compatible, or doesn’t save in the right formats.

I first use a program called Desk Engrave. Desk engrave is a simple program that will take a TrueType font, and create a DXF file that we can use for our cam software. Once downloaded and installed (it’s free), you can click select font from the drop-down of the create menu.  Select the font you want to use. Note that the size of the font doesn’t matter here.

You can generate your outline by entering text in the “Enter Text Here” box, followed by clicking the “F” icon in the upper left corner (below the file menu).

Please note that if you save the file as g-code, it will not load properly into LinuxCNC (emc). If by chance you do get it to load, it will not be the right size. It’s better to save it as a DXF at this point and bring it into some cam software.

When you’re happy with your results, Select File>>Save as DXF

Now, I’ve tried all the open source cam software one could find. In my personal opinion, Pycam is by far the best to use with LinuxCNC. And this is many hours of experience talking (writing?). Pycam will generate an EMC friendly g-code, complete with tool changes and the lot.

I’m not saying it’s the best cam software, but it’s certainly the best open source (free) that you’re going to get. You do get what you pay for.

For a complete tutorial on how to use Pycam with LinuxCNC and a continuance of this post, read How to use Pycam with LinuxCNC