CAM program D2NC’s new features

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.

2 comments to CAM program D2NC’s new features

  • SamRod
    February 22, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Reply

    Ok finally right area.
    You could give CamBam a try. I too struggled with conversion pgms from Acad or Bit trace etc..
    I gave cambam a try and LOVE it! well worth the $$ imho.

  • Rob
    February 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Reply

    I’ve heard very good things about CamBam and I know it’s affordable and a popular choice. But I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. I’d love to publish an objective review about it if you or someone else would like to write one 🙂

    I’ve been meaning to revise or delete this article. D2NC is a decent program and I may continue to use its wizards. But I recently started using Vectric’s Cut2D ($150) instead because there is probably nothing that’s easier to use if you just need to cut out shapes, create simple pockets or raised areas, drill holes or engrave flat surfaces. It can also add tabs to parts and do ramping.

    If I ever need or want to make more complex 3D shapes I’ll probably use MeshCAM because the author surprised me with a free no-strings attached license last fall. I was very interested in it long before that and I feel bad that I still haven’t found time to give it a try. It’s very affordable ($175) and it’s also suppose to be extremely easy to learn and use.

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