Source for CNC files to cut?

Just looking for a little guidance on where and what to look for in terms of files I can use to do some practice cuts.

I know of thingverse and inventables, and I also just discovered grabcad which looks good.

What file formats am I looking for? Is it the stl files?


Hi Darren,

STLs are good for doing 3d cutting with MeshCAM—If you download something from Thingiverse or Inventables, etc… what you see is what you’ll get as far as part geometry.

If you’re exporting STLs from your own software, you just want to make sure that the mesh is at a “goldilocks” density so that it’s detailed enough to not look faceted (unless that’s what you’re going for) and not so detailed that it’s going to bog calculations down and not improve actual machined details. For most objects the default export settings from most software packages are fine though. Also, you can use DXFs for 2D cuts, where you’ll arbitrarily extrude them to the thickness that you want the part to be in MeshCAM, and then work from that in dealing with your stock.

What’s your current CAD package of choice (if you have one), and what are you familiar with?

I have the nomad coming and will be using meshcam

Hi Darren,

That sounds good, but to clarify MeshCAM is a CAM package, not a CAD package—you’ll use MeshCAM to generate tool-paths for the Nomad, but you need to feed it designs, which is where CAD software comes in, or files from Instructables, Thingiverse, etc…

Before your Nomad arrives I’d recommend taking a look at some of the options and “workflows” available to you for creating the files that you “feed” to MeshCAM. You’ll need to get some tools if you’re looking to do any of your own design work, and it’s also still helpful just for altering/adjusting the files that you source online to suit your needs.

I’d suggest taking a look at 123D, SketchUP, Fusion360, TinkerCAD, just to get your feet wet and see what’s out there. If you google “free CAD” you’ll get a lot of options, and there are some professional tools out there that have inexpensive hobbyist licenses too. You might also want to look at 2D graphics programs if you’re thinking you’ll do a fair bit of 2D work, because you can import a few 2D formats and then arbitrarily extrude them in MeshCAM to a specified thickness to cut out.

Once you’ve taken a look at the options out there, I’m sure you’ll have some more focused questions the community can more directly answer. Good luck and let us know what you pick out!