Introduction: Typeface for CNC Machines - Text to Gcode Function

About: After a degree in micro-engineering in Switzerland, I moved to Russia to discover new landscapes

I draw a typo with... gcode!

More concretely, I wrote a Matlab script who transform a string of characters into a path for CNC machines. This typo is made of arcs and strait lines and takes account of the milling process. For example the vertical lines are milled upwards to have the same aspect. Otherwise the path is made pretty much the same as if written by hand.

You have three parameters to play with: The height and the length of the letters. The spacing between the letters. All the rest is calculated from these parameters and a gcode file is created. The total length is returned when the scrip has run.

It can be used to make doorbell or mail plaques quickly.

Step 1: The Process

It is straightforward:

  • write your text IN CAPITAL LETTERS between the quotation marks on the first line of the script
  • enter the letter dimensions you want
  • run the script with Matlab or Octave (open source version of Matlab)
  • put your cutting tool touching the surface where you want to mill
  • send the gcode file created to your machine loaded with nice material (wood, colorful plastic, gold or stones!)

You will notice that depending on the ration hight/length (has to be < 2), the letter shape is changing. You can observe some example I draw by hand when creating the typo. To change the thickness of the stroke, use different mills. You can also use a triangle shaped mill and play with the depth.

Engrave your name on your pencils that your colleagues always take.