G-code from CAD files

I spent several hours searching the internet for a CAM program, that can generate g-code from my CAD drawings. There is a lot of partially functional programs or some for very specific purposes, but nothing really pleasing. Finally I found HeeksCNC (http://code.google.com/p/heekscnc/downloads/list). It has some issues as well, but I like the general concept.The g-code is generated semi-automatic where the user has to define the shapes the machine should process.

If you import models from FreeCAD for example, then the workflow is:

  • Import the model
  • Move the imported model to the correct position in the coordinate system. The displayed xyz coordinate system is the origin of the CNC machine.
  • Select a face of the imported model that defines the outline of a pocket (hole) or a contour of the object.
  • Apply a pocket or outline CNC operation to each of the sketches you just created from the imported model.
  • Generate the g-code
  • Review the machine paths carefully. You have a lot of control on the total machining operations, but you also have to check for plausibility.