This is a very quick introduction to D2NC, the CAM program I use to convert DXF files into G-code for my mini-mill. It also does conversational CNC programing and it has a “Shape Description Language” for creating shapes and tool paths. D2NC only costs $79, which seems pretty inexpensive for a good CAM program. It costs even less if you buy it with a Mach3 license. There’s also a fully-functional demo version you can try free for 15 days.
The video shows the pocketing, ramping and tab features that were just added to the latest developmental version, which may become the stable version soon. It also shows how easy D2NC is to use, which is one of the reasons why I bought it. The excellent videos, well-written documentation and the help that is available from the D2NC discussion group were another reason.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with computer-aided manufacturing programs I’ll quickly explain what they do. A CAM program takes your CAD drawing and creates G-code instructions for your CNC mill (or whatever) to run. But to do that it needs a little help from you, especially if you’re working with 2D drawings.
Imagine a CAD drawing of a flange that is a simple square with a circle in the middle. The CAM program sees the circle but it doesn’t know if you want to cut it out, drill it, pocket it, raise it by milling the material down around it, engrave it or whatever. Similarly, it also doesn’t know what you want to do with the square portion. So you need to tell it and also what size and shape cutting tools to use and what feeds and speeds to use.
For me, finding and learning how to use a good affordable CAM program has been the hardest part of learning how to do CNC machining. So I think I was lucky to find D2NC, which is kind of a well-kept secret even though it’s been around for at least five years.