YouTuber is developing an open source custom G code generator for 3D printing
Technology YouTuber Create Inc has developed an open source 3D printing G code generator that allows users to create custom G code without the need for a 3D model.
Inspired by the FullControl GCODE designer developed by Dr Andrew Gleadall of Loughborough University, the browser-based version of Create Inc has been implemented as a website, making it a more accessible option. The software ultimately allows users to control every aspect of an FFF construction’s toolpath, line by line, paving the way for previously impossible geometries such as unsupported string structures and highly customizable trellises.
Create Inc explains, “A typical 3D printing pipeline has four stages. You or someone else create a model to export and load into a slicer (1). The slicer will then generate the G code for you (2). You take this G-code and transfer it to a printer of your choice (3), and the part is printed (4). My goal is to remove the first two steps and generate the G-code directly. It’s not an approach that would work for all types of printing, but it is certainly an approach that opens up new avenues for us.
What is the G-code?
To understand the novelty of Create Inc’s G Code Generator, it is essential to understand what G Code actually is. G Code is not necessarily specific to 3D printing (as it is also used in operations machining), but it can be considered the “language of 3D printers”. It is a programming language used to trace the path of a system’s tool head during a build, determining when the nozzle moves, stops, and extrudes.
The vast majority of any G code file usually consists of two main commands: G0 and G1. The first is a very simple function that tells the printer where to move without extruding any filament, while the second prints a straight line according to the XYZ coordinates defined in its parameter list. Some of the other parameters associated with these controls include travel speed, material flow, cooling rate, and more.
The power of fully customizable G-code
While the combination of conventional 3D CAD software and cutting software is usually sufficient to design most types of geometries, it still doesn’t give us full control over the movements of a printer. For example, using programs like SOLIDWORKS and Cura, it is almost impossible to 3D print spiny pine-like structures, a complex canvas-like mesh with sets of nested “chains” or toolpaths. non-planes which emulate mathematical functions such as sinusoids.
For each of these parts, a custom line-by-line G-code is required, but commercial slicers and engineering design programs just don’t have the functionality. Create Inc’s online G-code generator took it about two weeks to develop and allows users to chain combinations of G0 and G1 programmatically. The website also has a graphical toolpath viewer that showcases all of the individual commands as they are added, allowing users to design geometries that would otherwise be tedious or downright impossible.
Create Inc’s open source 3D printing G code generator is available here.
The open source 3D printing community is a petri dish for innovation, providing never-before-seen hardware and software. This month, 3D printing content creator Teaching Tech 3D printed and showcased their own open source version of a rare antique fractal vise. Unlike a standard straight vise, which is typically only capable of clamping straight objects, the 100-year-old fractal design is able to transform to grip virtually any part, no matter how complex the geometry.
Elsewhere, an MIT student named Lucas VRTech has previously designed and 3D printed a pair of low-cost finger-tracking gloves for use in virtual reality. Named LucidVR, the open source gloves give users the ability to accurately track their fingers without using dedicated VR controllers.
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Featured image shows Create Inc. Photo via Create Inc.