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Thread: Sketchup to G-Code

  1. #1
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    Default Sketchup to G-Code

    Anyone looking to use Sketchup as their CAD software (like me) should go to the Phlatboyz website and download their awesome Phlatscript plugin. You need to signup to their website but it is free to do so. The plugin converts your Sketchup geometry to g-code. They also have several tutorial videos on using the script.

    I have not used the The Phlatscript plugin yet but was informed by Boort that it is great for cutting and drilling basic shapes in 2D but if you want to do 3D carving, you will need another plugin to convert the Sketchup native format (.skp) to DXF or STL format. You can download a free plugin from guitar-list.com that will convert SKP to DXF or STL. Once converted to DXF or STL, you then use your CAM software, such as CamBam or Vectric Cut3D to convert to g-code.

    Another option for a Sketchup workflow, if you turned your Model A router into a rapid-prototyper (Rep-Rap like 3D printer) with an add-on extrusion head, is to slice your geometry first and then export to DXF or STL format. The free SliceModeler plugin (available from Sketchucation.com) for Sketchup can slice your model up quite nicely for "printing" in 3D. You could also use SliceModeler to make individual slices of a 3D model, let's say a head, and then while still in Sketchup, arrange the slices flat like you were making a cutlist diagram (i.e. laying them out flat on a sheet of plywood) and then use the Phlatscript to export to g-code and use your router to cut the pieces out of sheet material. You could then assemble the pieces one on top of the other up from the bottom in order to recreate the 3D head sort of like those "sliced" 3D puzzles that were popular for a while (click here for an example)

    Anyrate, I love Sketchup so I intend to use it for my CAD wherever possible. I'll let you know how it goes. I hope this information proves useful.
    Building MDF 12 x 18" Model A
    3/4" Dia. rails, 3/8"-12 Acme Leadscrews
    Probotix ProboStep with RF Isolated Breakout
    2 x 400 oz and 1 280 oz. unipolar steppers
    HF Trim Router Spindle w/ Speed Control

  2. #2
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    Mount Annan, NSW, Australia
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    Default

    Thanks Craig.

    I've just installed sketchup, but haven't played with it very much. I'll grab the plug-in for teh G-code.

    What results are you getting?

    Old Man Emu
    Old Man Emu
    I can't fly, but I'm telling you ...
    I can run the pants off a kangaroo

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by old man emu View Post
    Thanks Craig.

    I've just installed sketchup, but haven't played with it very much. I'll grab the plug-in for teh G-code.

    What results are you getting?

    Old Man Emu
    To tell the truth, I am still working on my machine - I moved my family of 6 (plus the Mastiff, turtle, ferret, and birds) 70 miles away over the last month so it's been really slow. I just got my shop all back together and had to fix my machine (damaged slightly during move). I have all of my electronics stuffed in a case and the Y table and motor completely mounted and ready to go. I am now putting a laptop together to run Mach3 so should have things moving this week. I use Sketchup all the time at work and in my shop so I can't wait to try Phlatscript to export gcode. As soon as I have any results, I'll post them here.
    Building MDF 12 x 18" Model A
    3/4" Dia. rails, 3/8"-12 Acme Leadscrews
    Probotix ProboStep with RF Isolated Breakout
    2 x 400 oz and 1 280 oz. unipolar steppers
    HF Trim Router Spindle w/ Speed Control

  4. #4
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    Dec 2008
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    Colorado USA
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    OME,

    I have used this plugin before. It works well for producing 2.5D tool paths (varying X/Y values with a set Z). You can drawshapes that you want to cut, set the depth of cut and generate g-code that will make the cut in a given number of passes. It has the ability to do inside and outside cust as well as a a tab generator capability. You can do pockets and islands if you use the Sketchup offsetting tool to create offset vectors then create gcode based on each vector using the plugin.
    Be sure to view the videos of installing and using the plugin they give a bunch of tips on how to use the pulg in.

    Regards,
    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  5. #5
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    Jan 2009
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    Mount Annan, NSW, Australia
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    Default

    I really must set aside some time to learn to use CAD & CAM, but there are so many interruptions.

    I don't go to work tomorrow, but I have to spend the day trying to find a dead short in the parking lights on my car. My wonderful son managed to bring the problem to the notice of the police in the early hours of last Saturday morning, and now I've got until Friday to find and fix the fault and have the car inspected. If I can't fix it, my right to drive the car is revoked.

    Old Man Emu
    Old Man Emu
    I can't fly, but I'm telling you ...
    I can run the pants off a kangaroo

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boort View Post
    OME,

    I have used this plugin before. It works well for producing 2.5D tool paths (varying X/Y values with a set Z). You can drawshapes that you want to cut, set the depth of cut and generate g-code that will make the cut in a given number of passes. It has the ability to do inside and outside cust as well as a a tab generator capability. You can do pockets and islands if you use the Sketchup offsetting tool to create offset vectors then create gcode based on each vector using the plugin.
    Be sure to view the videos of installing and using the plugin they give a bunch of tips on how to use the pulg in.
    So no 3D ehhh? That's a bit of a bummer although for a lot of what I plan to do 2.5D is fine. I'll have to export Sketchup models to a standard 3D format and convert that to gcode using something like CamBam or something like it.
    Building MDF 12 x 18" Model A
    3/4" Dia. rails, 3/8"-12 Acme Leadscrews
    Probotix ProboStep with RF Isolated Breakout
    2 x 400 oz and 1 280 oz. unipolar steppers
    HF Trim Router Spindle w/ Speed Control

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Colorado USA
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    Craigbic,

    The last time that I used the plugin it was still only 2.5d. I understand that they are looking to add 3d capabilities. As far as I know these features have not been added. There is another plugin that will let you export STL files which can be used in other CNC programs to create Gcode. When I get home I'll try to look up the URL where I got the STL output plugin for the free version of sketchup.

    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  8. #8
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    OME,

    Bummer. I hate trying to find wiring faluts on cars. At least it is not an intermittant short. I hope that you at least have a good wiring diagram for that car.

    Best of luck in tracking it down!
    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  9. #9
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    Mount Annan, NSW, Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boort View Post
    OME,

    Bummer. I hate trying to find wiring faluts on cars. At least it is not an intermittant short. I hope that you at least have a good wiring diagram for that car.

    Best of luck in tracking it down!
    BoorT
    You know what I hate about electrics? You can't really see what's going on.
    I pulled the dashboard facia, steering wheel and instrument cluster out of the car; put some insulation around some bare wires (where my son had cut in to power a tachometer) and Hey Presto! everything works. I'd love to know what I did to fix it.

    Anyway, and all day job turned into a half day job, and no money spent, so I went out an bought an LCD screen for my CNC computer for $30, plus $10 to replace a video card that mice had pee'd on and ruined.

    I hope to do my first cuts this weekend

    Old Man Emu
    Old Man Emu
    I can't fly, but I'm telling you ...
    I can run the pants off a kangaroo

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by old man emu View Post
    I hope to do my first cuts this weekend
    OME,

    Well I hope you do and that they're successful! You WILL be posting pics of those first cuts, right?

    I actually have the whole weekend open and blocked to work on my CNC machine and hope to have it finished or really close to finished by Monday. We'll see.
    Building MDF 12 x 18" Model A
    3/4" Dia. rails, 3/8"-12 Acme Leadscrews
    Probotix ProboStep with RF Isolated Breakout
    2 x 400 oz and 1 280 oz. unipolar steppers
    HF Trim Router Spindle w/ Speed Control

  11. #11
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    Colorado USA
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    OME,

    Fixed a problem in 1/2 the time and got to buy some new parts for your hobby. I'd call that a win! Let us know how the cuts go.

    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  12. #12
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    Does anybody have a good workflow for getting 3D models out of Sketchup and into gcode to be routed? I suspect export to DXF or STL.

    Boort, have you modeled anything in Sketchup in 3D and routed it?
    Building MDF 12 x 18" Model A
    3/4" Dia. rails, 3/8"-12 Acme Leadscrews
    Probotix ProboStep with RF Isolated Breakout
    2 x 400 oz and 1 280 oz. unipolar steppers
    HF Trim Router Spindle w/ Speed Control

  13. #13
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    Dec 2008
    Location
    Colorado USA
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    Craig

    So far I have only done a couple of 3d cuts on my router (both with the clipart that came with Aspire). I'm working on a project now that will include a 3d component that was done in Sketchup.
    The project is an address plaque with a light house. The person who asked me to do it wanted a real light house as part of the design. I searched the Google 3d warehouse and found a life sized 3d model of the lighthouse, and have scaled it down. Now I'm working to flatten it and make it into a relief carving that can be routed.
    I have tested the export of the STL using the Gutarlist plugin you mentioned at the beginning of this post and Aspire opened the file without any problem. I'll let you know how it goes but I'm still a ways from cutting since I don't yet have a layout that I like that fits within the 11.75x11.75" envelope of my router. (I'm reading up on how to plan out a pin system to allow me to extend my cuts in 1 direction. I'm not sure that I want to start off doing that with a project that includes multiple bit changes and 2 3d toolpaths though.)

    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boort View Post
    I'll let you know how it goes but I'm still a ways from cutting since I don't yet have a layout that I like that fits within the 11.75x11.75" envelope of my router.
    Boy am I glad I decided to elongate my Y table to 18 inches which should give me a little more freedom for doing these types of signs - I have a long list of friends and relatives, who all want address signs for their homes, waiting on me to finish my router.

    I'd love to see the results when you do route the sign! Keep us posted.
    Building MDF 12 x 18" Model A
    3/4" Dia. rails, 3/8"-12 Acme Leadscrews
    Probotix ProboStep with RF Isolated Breakout
    2 x 400 oz and 1 280 oz. unipolar steppers
    HF Trim Router Spindle w/ Speed Control

  15. #15
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    Location
    Colorado USA
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    Craig,

    Yeah, I am seriously considering building a longer Y-axis base and swapping my Z/X-axis gantry onto it. I'm trying to talk a buddy at work into selling me a pair of ~36" fully supported rails, with trucks, that I saw sitting in a box in his garage. He says that he got them when they dismantled some equipment at his old job. Hopefully he will come around to parting with them
    If he is not interested in selling them the I might build a hybrid model-A setup, using my existing gantry with rails and bushings on a base that uses the skate bearing design for the longer axis.

    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  16. #16
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    Jan 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boort View Post
    Yeah, I am seriously considering building a longer Y-axis base and swapping my Z/X-axis gantry onto it. I'm trying to talk a buddy at work into selling me a pair of ~36" fully supported rails, with trucks, that I saw sitting in a box in his garage. He says that he got them when they dismantled some equipment at his old job. Hopefully he will come around to parting with them
    If he is not interested in selling them the I might build a hybrid model-A setup, using my existing gantry with rails and bushings on a base that uses the skate bearing design for the longer axis.
    Once you start building one, you immediately start compiling a list in your head of the things you would improve or mistakes you would correct on your next version. I already have the plans for my next version which is going to be a 24"x48" flying gantry version for bigger projects.
    Building MDF 12 x 18" Model A
    3/4" Dia. rails, 3/8"-12 Acme Leadscrews
    Probotix ProboStep with RF Isolated Breakout
    2 x 400 oz and 1 280 oz. unipolar steppers
    HF Trim Router Spindle w/ Speed Control

  17. #17
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    Dec 2008
    Location
    Colorado USA
    Posts
    261

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    Craig,

    Yeah I'm seeing how the guys on CNCZone and else where are refer to this hobby as an addiction.

    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

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