3D Carving on Shapeoko 3

I need some guidance from the master class of users. I want to use my Shapeoko 3 to create a simple flag .stl file to gcode. I do not have access to fusion 360. I goofed up with that program too many times. I would like one program that imports the stl file, lets me do a little modification and export it to gcode that this machine can use.

Can someone guide me to a free or nearly free program. I think I can figure it out from there. I also welcome any additional knoweledge that I need to know, special bits and such.



Just curious, why do you need an STL file for a flag? Carbide Create can import an SVG and do your basic editing and create your toolpaths.

For taking an STL to gcode for a CNC machine, there aren’t many free or cheap options. MeshCAM (https://www.grzsoftware.com/) has a 15-day free trial. I have not tried it, but it looks good, but it’s $250 or $500 for the Pro version. Some people use EstlCAM (https://www.estlcam.de/) which is only $60 and offers a free trial, so that might be your best bet.

Otherwise, if you are willing to give Fusion 360 another try, there are some good CAM tutorials on Lynda.com. Some libraries in major cities offer free access to Lynda.com if you get a library card with them–that’s what I did.

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Split your operations into 2 tools. Use Blender to load and modify your STL files. You can even create new stuff if you’re artistic. Then use Vcarve Desktop or Pro to load a STL file and tool path it from there. I use UGS to send it to the Shapeoko as Carbide Motion had size limits at one time (may still have?). That’s the workflow I’m currently using.

STL is a lousy format for editing — you’ll be much happier with the editing workflow if you edit in your 3D CAD tool.

3D CAM tools which will accept an STL:


  • pyCAM
  • FreeMill


  • MeshCAM
  • EstlCAM

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