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PixelCNC: CAM For Artists

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System Requirements

By Artists, For Artists

PixelCNC is our premiere CAM software developed by artists for artists for creating works cut on a 3-axis router or mill. Over a dozen different toolpath types for milling and carving enable just about every artistic pursuit on a 3-axis CNC. Import images, models, and vectors to use on your projects' canvas while generative functions enable the creation of a wide array of shapes and forms to incorporate into a project's design. Create relief carvings, engravings, V-carvings, halftones, inlays, cut-outs, and more!

Check out the Downloads section for example PixelCNC projects!


Project Operations and Toolpath Types

PixelCNC provides an array of different operation types for generating different toolpaths for different purposes. A PixelCNC project can mix and match operations for accomplishing different effects and results, using different cutting tools to carve or mill whatever you need.

3D Contouring: These are toolpaths which follow the project's 3D canvas, effectively carving it out of the workpiece in layers of cuts that are of a specified cutting depth, down to a specified maximum cutting depth - or the canvas surface, whichever is reached first. These toolpaths are ideal for relief carvings and halftones.

 2D/2.5D Milling: Some operations here are for roughing out the canvas shape  (2.5D) while others generate a waterline contour from it at a user-specified Z-height (2D) for creating pocketing or profiling toolpaths which cut down to an arbitrary depth, regardless of the canvas surface's 3D form.

Specialty Cuts: These are the more fancy cutpath types, such as generating stipple plunge-cuts or medial-axis V-carvings, B-carvings, and T-carvings.


Canvas Editing

PixelCNC's layer-based canvas system allows for loading and compositing together a variety of media as individual "layers" - with 3D positions and dimensions, orientations, and blending modes. The layer editing and generative functionality included offers the powerful ability to generate 2D shapes and 3D forms for crafting a design. Raster-layers and paths-layers can be loaded from media, generated through different means, and edited a number of ways.

Raster-layers can be edited manually using a parametrically defined brush shape, expanded/contracted in 2D and 3D, tiled circularly or as an array of rows and columns, and have a draft angle applied to soften up vertical boundaries and edges.

Paths-layers allow for generating brush strokes and can be swept as 2D cross-section profiles along or between specified "rail" paths for creating ornate flowing shapes. A selection of different 3D shapes can also be generated from closed paths which makes it easy to load a black/white 2D image as a raster-layer, perform a waterline trace-to-paths to generate a paths-layer from the 2D image, and then use the shapes-from-paths function to create more interesting forms than what the original 2D image comprised. Paths can also be used to conform a raster-layer or text-layer along or between pairs of paths.

Text-layers composite with the canvas just as raster-layers do but are instead generated from user-specified text and TrueType/OpenType fonts that are found on the system. Text-layers can be conformed along paths for shaped text or duplicated as a raster-layer to be edited using the available raster editing functionality.

Model-layers enable the inclusion of 3D geometry into the canvas. Load .STL/Stereolithography and .OBJ/Wavefront Object model files to either directly composite into a project's design or copy to a raster-layer for editing. Just as with raster and text-layers, model-layers can be traced to a paths-layer for use with the shape and form generation functions available.



We've been working to create tutorial videos which demonstrate PixelCNC's various features and functionality along with walkthroughs for creating different projects and achieving different effects.

You can find the currently available tutorial videos here:

 Deftware YouTube Channel.

There are example PixelCNC project files that can be found on the Downloads page to use as a reference or as a guide for creating your own projects. If you have any suggestions or requests for a project - or that you'd like to see a video tutorial for - please feel free to let us know by emailing us at support@deftware.org.


User Guide

The User Guide explains in detail each aspect of the user interface and provides some tips and tricks as well as pitfalls to avoid while using PixelCNC. The latest version of the User Guide can be viewed here:

 PixelCNC User Guide



Free Trial Restrictions

PixelCNC runs in a free trial mode if a valid product key is not entered to activate the software. The restrictions imposed are as follows:

> Usage sessions are limited to 60 minutes each.
> No saving of project files.
> No exporting of heightmap images and meshes.
> Exported G-code is limited to the first 8000 toolpath coordinates per operation.
> Nag screens on launch and exit (yikes!)


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