While already using Blender, I'm considering to use it to create models for a milling (machining) and have read on a site of one of the companies that mill stuff that they accept cdr, dwg and dxf file formats. I'm not sure if every other accepts all 3, so I'm better to be prepared to change file format. So I'd like at least to be able to export to these formats (ideally import as well) with minimal time consumption and without use of heavy tools (like CAD systems) and preferably free and open source software and only one piece of software (for 3 formats). Any known tools for this?

I'm on Windows 10 currently, but mentioning Unix solutions are also encouraged as I'll install some Unix in the nearest future.

  • $\begingroup$ I wonder why there's no "milling" tag out there yet.. $\endgroup$ – YakovL Mar 25 '16 at 10:43
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    $\begingroup$ Blender 2.49b supports DXF and DWG import and export to a fuller extent than the current Blender does. There was an effort to port this functionality, but it was not seen through to completion. So if you're able and willing to use an intermediary format (.obj?) to get models made in the current Blender back into 2.49b then you might have a usable (albeit inelegant) workflow. Or maybe as long as your model has all modifiers applied and no constraints on it 2.49b will be able to Append it from a newer version's .blend? It's something to try. $\endgroup$ – Mentalist Mar 25 '16 at 17:07

I'm not sure that you will get an open source tool for these, as all of these formats belong to Software producers (Corel / Autodesk).

I'm not certain about the "cdr" format (and I come from the CAD/CAM world of things).

"dwg" is fairly locked down, although there has been reasonable success at converting them from those other than Autodesk (The kicker here, is that "dwg" is not human readable as a file, and as Autodesk updates the features of this file format every year, and completely changes its version about every three years - it's a little hard to rely on outside of the Autodesk product suites).

"dxf" is still an Autodesk file format, however it is human readable, and it is fairly common for CNC controllers to use them. Blender even has some Add-Ons for it, however the one that comes with is Experimental.

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I have personally tested it and it is lacking some enforcement features that would really allow this to be "trusted" for milling operations - I've also included links at the end of this page to reference that standard.

As for other common 3D model file formats in the milling industry:

  1. STL (although you will get triangulated faces - and might not produce the desired resolution) - For Blender there is an import only utility that ships with Blender.

  2. STP, STEP

  3. IGES

Another alternative for you as an open source tool & workflow, would be to use Meshlab in cooperation with Blender, as they both have some DXF & STL output options.

As far as other Add-On resources, you may actually find some things on the web that support this process a little better, you may want to try searching for them, and/or ask about their possible existence on BlenderArtists.org. I hope this answer has pointed you in the right direction.

PDF Link

Web Page Link

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for a very detailed answer and sorry for delayed accepting. I think that's a good start to look into. In fact what I'm looking for is to mill second glass table for Prusa i3, make it more rough with a sandpaper and try if this improves adhesion of PLA to the table; so may be I don't need advanced features for that (it's just a square with cut off corners and rounded edges). $\endgroup$ – YakovL Mar 31 '16 at 8:38
  • $\begingroup$ As far as that goes, you may want to just do some basic gcode yourself. You would have to study it a little, but it really is just coordinates, bit diameter considerations, and feed speeds, so not all that difficult to pull off. I will try to append my answer with anything relevant for getting this done in Blender, check back here and there. $\endgroup$ – Rick Riggs Mar 31 '16 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ In the mean time you may want to check this out as it works with svg. And check this related post and experiment with the add-on. I also know that there is some other utils you could find to convert between alot of the 2D vector formats. $\endgroup$ – Rick Riggs Mar 31 '16 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ I have to admit, I don't quite understand what the first tool you've mentioned in the latest comment actually is.. I only got the idea that it can be reasonable to consider different 2D formats liks SVG. $\endgroup$ – YakovL Apr 10 '16 at 11:20

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