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1.24.2018

PixelCNC: Images to CNC G-Code


I finally won my wife over to the idea of making and selling various CNC milled and routed items on our online store where we've been selling various decorative crafts and prints for years. She's developed her own process for creating designs which I can then run through my process to produce a final product on my X-Carve CNC.



However, this process is somewhat cumbersome, involving meshing the image using Blender and fiddling around in a CAM program to generate toolpaths. It is a very tweaking-intensive operation, requiring constant refinement and adjustment.



To improve the process I (apparently) wrote a program, 'TGA2STL' (https://github.com/DEF7/TGA2STL), early 2016. I had completely forgotten about it until I stumbled across it in my projects folder a few months ago. I was surprised at both my thoroughness and forgetfulness. At any rate, it became a part of my toolchain for converting my wife's designs into finished products. But I still wasn't happy, as I was at the mercy of whatever toolpath generation software I have at my disposal: however slow or uninspired they may be. I could do better.

A project my father had always pushed for me to work on was a CAD/CAM package to undercut the professional packages out there that cost thousands of dollars that 90% of job shops would only need 10% of the functionality from. My dad's big idea was to sell a program that just featured that 10% of functionality to all those shops, for the low price of $500. It was a project that always interested me, somewhat, though not enough to motivate me to drop existing projects and work on it.

Years went by, but the idea kept coming back up, even after he got sick on Halloween of 2012 and subsequently passed away on Easter of 2015, it was etched into my mind. Then the Holocraft project came about and CNC became something I was actively pursuing and interested in. I discovered how much I already knew that I hadn't realized, just from working with my father in his shop. The CNC has since become a part of our lives and our business.

Now, my father's original idea was a professional CAD/CAM program that could be used for precision machining. As awesome as that sounds, I don't have a professional CNC, and I've venture into CNC from more of a creative/hobby/artistic angle. I don't really have a personal use for a professional CAD/CAM program that I make myself - aside from selling it for money, but these sorts of projects are an arcane art form that I *could* spend years on, but I'd rather not. Instead, I have a use for a program that can take my wife's designs and turn them into G-code. A sort of hybrid project merging my dad's idea and our crafting needs.


Enter PixelCNC...


I've been working on PixelCNC since the end of summer, and it's finally released. You can check it out at http://deftware.itch.io/PixelCNC/ It's available as an early-access program, selling for $50.00, but there's a free trial version that can do all the same stuff, except for load images with > 65k pixels and load/save project files. Hopefully that's enough to get people hooked on it without giving it away for free.

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