A G-code editor allows you to change your CNC or 3D printing code. Read on to find a good G-code editor from our top picks!
A G-code editor is any program that allows one to create or alter G-Code through line-by-line text editing. In some cases, this ability could be provided by add-ons that allow you to directly rewrite existing G-code instead of recompiling using slicers or CAM software.
There are several uses for G-code editors, including the following:
It should be noted that not all editors show a 3D preview of the part as you’re editing G-code. Depending on your application, a visual aid may or may not be needed, but in general, text-only G-code editors tend to function faster than ones that need to render a 3D object in real-time.
Since there are several to choose from, we’ve compiled a list of a few of the best G-code editors below. Let’s dive in!
Notepad++ is a downloadable offline text editing program with some great features. Although Notepad++ doesn’t inherently come with the ability to highlight G-code, a simple five-minute process will get you up and running with a custom language profile, highlighting G-code for your editing needs.
In terms of functionality, Notepad++ along with a custom language file allows you to do standard things such as search, find, and replace commands, allowing you to edit your G-code with relative ease. This software is meant for a variety of audiences and can be customized with various plug-ins for particular applications.
Conveniently, Notepad++ offers users the ability to define their own language highlighting for even more customization, when needed.
For those of you looking for a simpler method of editing using a visual tool, G-Wizard Editor may be the way you want to go. G-Wizard, created by CNC Cookbook, offers a set of powerful features, including an explanation of what each selected command in your G-code means. It’s used within a number of well-known engineering organizations, like Tesla, NASA, MIT, and Caterpillar.
One popular feature of G-Wizard is conversational G-code, which allows you to select simple functions, like face milling a part, in order to quickly generate G-code without going through the usual time-consuming workflow. Unlike many G-code editors, G-Wizard contains error-checking algorithms that can help prevent G-code errors before they happen, making troubleshooting much easier than before.
G-Wizard offers several pricing tiers, namely a $99 yearly subscription and a lifetime license for $299. If you want to test it out before purchasing, you can try the program free for 30 days.
If you’re looking for something a little less pricey but still with some of the bells and whistles of expensive software, TextPad is a great program to try. Like Notepad++, TextPad is in many ways a souped-up version of the standard Windows Notepad.
However, several important features are included with TextPad, including the ability to directly import several G-code files and merge them into a single file without having to copy and paste each file. In addition, you can change the color of a selected line, which can be helpful for extremely long G-code files that require many edits.
This is designed as a middle ground between Notepad++ and more professional software. It isn’t free, but it has support forums and a method for suggesting new features.
NCPlot is another option for visual text editing, and it has extensive functionality for editing G-code files. Some of that functionality includes operations like mirroring, rotating, shifting, and scaling a part. It also has a tool to convert text to G-code directly, which can save significant time.
Users of NCPlot appreciate its time estimation feature, which attempts to determine how long it will take to make a part as well as how long particular tools will be used for. This can be particularly useful for maintaining parts based upon the amount of use rather than at a set interval.
Unfortunately, this software does cost significantly more than platforms on our list, coming in at almost $300. However, its functionality makes it worthwhile, as it has just about every type of feature and function you could ask for.
While tkCNC may not have the most advanced visual display, the lower cost and rich functionality easily make up for it. Apart from standard text editing, it also offers operations like mirroring, translation, and rotation, among others. For AutoCAD users, there’s also a function to convert DXF files to G-code.
With this software coming in at only $99, it’s a good middle ground for those who need more than a simple editor but don’t want to pay typical commercial license prices.
Cimco Edit is a professional tool meant for machinists and engineers who want all the functionality of a G-code editor, regardless of cost. Apart from all of the most common operations, such as translation and rotation, it also allows for infinitely large files, custom macros, file comparison, and detection of collisions and errors.
Cimco has a YouTube channel dedicated to helping you learn the software quickly with 81 videos at the time of writing. Although the software comes in as expensive, the number of features and its smooth integration makes it an option worth considering for those who do a lot of G-code editing.
PC-DNC Editor is the most expensive software on our list, coming in at a whopping $595. However, considering that it’s mainly useful for professional and commercial applications, it goes along with other editors in its price range, such as Cimco Edit. Interestingly enough, you can actually run a DNC (distributed numerical control) from this program, which makes it unique on our list.
Conveniently for a multi-port operation, the company offers a free 30-day trial of the software for investigation before you buy, which could be helpful in a large scale commercial application.
If you’re looking for a powerful G-code editor that nearly mirrors what you can download with some programs, look no further than NC Viewer. This online G-code editor allows you to both edit and view your G-code in a slicer-like interface. When viewing, you can step or scroll through each movement in order to determine where problematic moves might be.
It should be noted that not all 3D printing commands give the best results on NC Viewer, as the software is tailored to traditional CNC milling operations and not necessarily to 3D printing commands. This is certainly the case with retraction commands like
gCodeViewer is an online, easy-to-use editor that’s targeted at 3D printing. It even accepts “printer info”, including printer-specific settings like material, cost, and nozzle size. Because of this, you can generate cost estimates for your next project and compare cost differences between G-code edits. And in 2D mode, you can use the scroll bars to walk through a particular layer that may be giving you problems in your print.
Despite all these positive aspects, the downside is that the software doesn’t auto-update, meaning that you’ll have to edit and then re-upload the G-code to see your changes unfold. This is definitely a shortcoming that we wish wasn’t the case, but overall, this free editor is well worth it.
On the simpler side of things, GCode Simulator is a 2D G-code editor with no bells and whistles. (If you load a 3D G-code file, it will simply load as though all layers have been squished into a single visual layer.)
Despite this drawback, the tool is nimble and quick. It has a “Simulate” button for running the G-code and a slider to go through it piece by piece.
(Lead source image: Repetier)
License: The text of "10 Best G-Code Editors (Online & Offline)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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