What is G-Code?
G-Code is the generic name for CNC machine control language. It is the way that you can tell a computerized machine (CNC machine) to make something. G-Code consists of instructions that tell the CNC machine where to move, how fast to move and what path to follow. As the machine is following the G-Code, it is continually removing material (except in the case of a 3D printer, where it is adding material) leaving behind a finished part.
You do not need to know how to program G-Code to run many of today’s personal desktop CNC machines. STEPCRAFT recommends using CAD/CAM software like Fusion 360, Vectric VCarve, Cut 2D or Cut 3D or Deskproto. These programs have an intuitive graphical interface that allows you to set all of the parameters for your job and then the software will output a fully-formatted G-Code file that you can load into your CNC’s machine control program to run the job.
It is, however, not a bad idea to learn the basics of G-Code so if there was ever a problem with a job, you can quickly reference the code and see and understand what the machine is doing (or supposed to do) for the given G-Code commands.
What do I need to run the Oscillating Tangential Knife OTK-3?
The Oscillating Tangential Knife requires no special software outside of the standard CAD/CAM program used to design and create toolpaths. Cut2D, VCarve Desktop and VCarve Pro are all compatible with the OTK-3. As of May 2019, the only “special” software needed to run the knife is the free version 1.2110 of UCCNC.
Securing your workpiece for use with the OTK-3 may require use of a vacuum table or sticky table, as materials such as hard foam, cardboard, leather, cork and carpet can be tough to hold with traditional clamping methods.