I recently wrote a little piece of software – and I thought I should share it before Christmas. It is a 2D drawing program which creates a G-Code file that can be 3D printed. I just used it to make greeting cards and maybe you need a last minute gift and want to do the same.
Or you want to use it to make delicate window decoration, or sophisticated business cards, or you just need to keep your kids busy, or perhaps you have a much better idea for what this code can be used. In that case, drop me a line, because I’m curious to hear what you came up with!
Scroll down to find out how to download & to use gDraw.
Here’s how it works:
Download and installation:
First you need to download gDraw as .zip archive from my server – or you can find the code also on Github. gDraw is written in Processing, which you also have to download. Processing works with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and you can get it here for free.
How to use:
Unzip the downloaded archive and place the folder “gDraw_V0_15” in Processing’s “Sketches” folder. Then run gCode from Processing.
You can draw in two modes, the free mode and the fixed mode. “Free” is nice for organic drawings, “fixed” is good for geometric drawings, as it creates always straight lines in a metric grid. You can toggle between the two modes either by pushing the button “F” on your keyboard or by hitting the free/fixed button in the menu on the left.
You can zoom in and out of the canvas with the mouse wheel.
Interrupt the line by hitting the space bar. The program displays the path of the printhead, when it just moves but does not print, as a thin line. Because the printhead might still squeeze out small amounts of plastic during those paths and therefore you might want to keep control over where the printhead moves exactly.
You can save drawings by hitting the save button and you can load them again by hitting the load button. As the current drawing will not be deleted when you load a path, you can merge drawings by loading one drawing after another.
Finally, in order to create printable G-Code, you hit the “save G-Code”-button. You have to give your file the extension “.gcode” otherwise your printer might not recognize it as a valid G-Code file.
How it works:
G-Code is the “language” that a 3D printer understands. It is a text file, with a list of coordinates for X, Y and Z axis, and also for E (the extrusion motor). The printer reads this file, moves from coordinate to coordinate and squeezes out plastic as indicated in the value for E.
gDraw is a simple vector drawing program that turns your drawings into G-Code so you can print your drawings as lines of plastic.
I have an Ultimaker 2, so I wrote the program in such way that it works with my printer. If you have a different printer, you might have to adapt the G-Code header in order to make it work for you. Have a look in the lines 486-511 of my code. This is where the G-Code header for the Ultimaker 2 is written.