I want to get into cnc routing my 3d models. I keep hearing Fusion 360 is the tool of choice, and it does look amazing but it's \$300/year. I'm a hobbyist so not in a hurry to spend that kind of money. I have intermediate experience with Cinema 4d v9 but to upgrade to the latest version is \$3500. Crazy. So I found blender which looks really similar to Cinema and it's, well, free. Unbelievably crazy. But what's the path to get Blender models into a CNC router? I'm just getting into this and it's all overwhelming. Fusion has that incredible preview simulator but I kind of doubt anything else does and that looks indispensable. Anyway, any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Rob

  • $\begingroup$ I realize this is a slightly older post, maybe you've found this out by now. But Fusion 360 is actually free for students, hobbyists, and small businesses (Autodesk is defining that as making 100,000USD or less a year). $\endgroup$
    – eidylon
    Apr 4, 2018 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


Of the 7 formats I think are most used for CNC -- 3DM, STEP, IGES, STL, SLDPRT, DWG and XT -- Blender will export models in just one: STL. See How do I get my file to export as a .stl?

Programs like FreeCAD will take an STL in and save in a variety of formats, including IGES and STEP.

The right choice depends upon your CNC input requirements... You are probably way more familiar with CNC cutting than I, but I will add that the conversion to a compatible format for CNC is the first step, and making the cutting paths needed will be handled by yet another software package, probably one you bought with your router....

EDIT -- another thought: Some 3D printer manufacturers have free file converters as well. I am using Formlabs now, and it does not support output in alternative formats, but at Siggraph I remember seeing some that do.... although a brief Google search did not refresh my memory.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I promise, you know FAR more about CNC than I do! But I have to start somewhere. It takes so much brain power to master one of these programs you really don't want to get it wrong. I invested in Cinema 4D years ago and got okay at it but the version I have hasn't kept up and it's exorbitantly expensive to upgrade so now I'm kicking myself. $\endgroup$
    – user35453
    Feb 6, 2017 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ No sweat... and if you like my answer, can you accept it? We use Blender for a lot of things, and it is a real asset for 3D printing. A few things are better in ProE or a more expensive software package, but Blender covers a lot of bases. $\endgroup$
    – rcgauer
    Feb 6, 2017 at 22:40

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