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Custom shape for tool? Toolholder visualisation in CNC simulation?

A topic by alexaser created 12 days ago Views: 23 Replies: 7
Viewing posts 1 to 3

Will be great to have an option to define a custom shape for the cutting tool. Another great feature would be an option to see the actual toolholder in simulation mode. Sometimes I run programs to the limit, and I need to detect eventual clashes between the toolholder and the working material. This two features will be very helpful to have.


Hi again! I'm curious about your custom tool shape suggestion. Could you provide more details? What kinds of parameters or means of defining a tool are you imagining? A quick diagram would be great, or links to a few different cutters that you'd like to be able to define and perhaps I could come up with a means for users to articulate them to PixelCNC.

As for the tool holder itself: I do plan to show the actual holder/chuck for the very purpose you indicated, and also to perform automatic intersection tests to show the user if they might have problems with certain cuts that are deeper than the length of the cutter. This would basically operate the same way as the existing simulation system but almost as a secondary tool that's larger and at the top of the actual cutter, showing red areas wherever it "crashes" into the workpiece - which would be whenever the cutter has cut deeper than the distance from tip-to-holder. There's no telling when this feature will be in but hopefully within the next few months. The todo list is still rather long just to get us to beta but this is definitely a feature that's on there :)

Hi Defware. Thank you for reply. I do have more than a decade of experience working professionaly with different kind of CNC machines and as furniture designer. Hopefuly the next year I will be able to have my own hobby CNC machine. For this reason I am interested in PixelCNC. I already purchased the controller from the PlanetCNC, but still I need the motors and the rails.

Back to topic, will be useful to have an option to import a DXF shape and use that shape to define the profile of a new tool.

I used CAM softwares like WoodWop, where iI can import a profile from a DXF file and use that profile to create a new tool that will be visualized into simulations. Something like this: 

Into the examples bellow, it is showing how to achieve the same thing into the Vectric softwares, here it is called "Form Tools":

At minute 14 it is talking about the "Form Tools"

With my machine I do intend to do some cabinet profiled doors and different profiled joinery element, and I will need to use a lot of different profile bits like this ones:

If you need further informations, please let me know.


Ah, yes, there's no plan to add support for the kind of cutting geometry that router bits entail specifically because PixelCNC's toolpathing and CNC simulation engine - and the core systems they're built on - operate on the assumption that for each XY point on a project or cutter there is a single corresponding Z coordinate, as opposed to multiple Z coordinates.

PixelCNC has always been intended for 3-axis milling/carving the "top" of a project - where cuts are entered/exited vertically, as opposed to entering and routing along edges from a sideways approach. However, I might be able to at least add some kind of support for another cut entry method - which would allow a toolpath to approach a cut from a distance away and move inward to the cut along a fixed Z, as well as retract at a fixed Z a specified distance before rapiding to the safe Z level. Then you  could just define a generic endmill to generate the path with. I can't promise this will even be a thing as I already have plenty on my plate and hope to get to beta before summer but I'll keep it in mind :)

Maybe a feature for the version two of the software? :)


We'll see! A lot of the things I had planned for v2.0 ended up being incorporated into the existing version "just because" but I do have tentative plans for creating a DIY 5-axis with accompanying full 3D CAM, with the goal of making CNC almost as easy as 3D printing. I also have other projects I'd like to do too so only time will tell :)

Once this project will become more popular, I think you will have enough income to dedicate only to programming this wonderful software. I discovered this project by mistake, was just a short mention into a forum, nowhere else I found references before. Definitely this project needs more marketing because have great potential.

I also intend to build a CNC machine with a 4th rotating axis (wood lathe) and the main head to be 5axis driven. Maybe my first machine will be only 3axis and the 4th for lathe, but second one certainly will be a 5axis one. If you need 5axis algorithms you can check the project. It is a Rhino-Grasshopper definition that can generate 5axis gcode for CNC machines.


There might be a way that you can get PixelCNC to output G-code for a 4th axis by creating a custom post processor and doing some trickery with changing the Y axis to the rotation. Using the scaling factor you can map the Y dimension of the project to 360 degrees. So if you make a project that's 6 inches long in the Y dimension you could set a scaling factor to 6.0 for the Y dimension and change the register label in the post from Y to A (IIRC that's how you specify 4th axis angle?). I think it could be done, I'd be interested to find out if someone can pull it off.

I've already been working on PixelCNC pretty much full time for about 2.5 years now and my goal is to get it to the point that I originally envisioned, at which point it will enter beta phase and I will switch gears to PR/promotion/marketing mode. The goal is to expand it into a full income by the summer time. We'll see! Thanks for the feedback :)