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G-Code For 3D Printers

What Is G-Code?

G-Code is code which is generated by a slicer. And, a slicer is different for all 3D printers. There are slicers like Cura, Prusa Slicer, and more.

What the slicer does is take STL files which have all of the information to make the print and convert it into G-Code which makes it readable for 3D printers.

The output of code that comes from deciphering the STL files can be pages long. Long enough for a human to grow bored and do something else.

But, somebody has to do them because the G-Code contains instructions which tell the machine where to be, how fast to do something, and other specifics. It’s a layer-by-layer process when a G-Code instructs a machine.

Table of Contents

Deciphering G-Code

G00 F9000 X125.38 Y118.00 Z0.50

Looking at G-Code will leave a lay person confused. It’s more confusing at first compared to Javascript or HTML because it’s mostly written in numbers. At least other programming languages have words people can recognize. But it isn’t too hard to decipher.

The numbers in G-Code are coordinates. These coordinates are known as “Cartesian coordinates”. 

Mathinsight says “Cartesian coordinates allow one to specify the location of a point in the plan, or in three-dimensional space.”

G-Codes for 3D printers comes with 5 different numbers on a single line and a plethora of letters. The first number is the G-Code number which determines how the printer will move.

For example, the G00 above means the printer will use rapid movement for a specific position. Other common G numbers are G01/02 which are linear movements and clockwise/counterclockwise movement.

The last three numbers are X, Y, and Z coordinates. The second number is the feed rate which determines how fast the 3D printer executes.

There are other letters used in 3D printing. Here’s a comprehensive list explaining these letters.

Why You Should Learn G-Code

Feeds And Speeds

Adjusting the rate of speed for filament extrusion and the overall process will obviously make printing faster.

This is especially important if you’re running your own 3D printing business. If you can print faster, the more business you’ll get.  But adjusting the speed doesn’t only mean going faster.

Adjusting the speed to slow it down to make sure the filament comes out correctly is another strategy. Although most of the filament on the market is strong, being able to adjust nonetheless is a valuable asset.

Fixing Mistakes/Errors

Being able to use G-Code to fix mistakes and errors is a superpower. There are a lot of different printers on the market that comes with their own proprietary technology.

While they come with distinct advantages, they also come with different disadvantages. Being able to use G-Code lets you fix most problems.

Different variables

Different factors like filament, equipment, processes, and more affect prints. Having the ability to manipulate G-Code will save you time and money. Instead of changing the material or printer, changing the code will allow you to handle the difference in material.

Tracking Parts

Being able to use G-Code makes it easier to allocate resources too. There’s a feature on some 3D printers which lets you know when filament is low.

How about a feature which lets you know when you have enough filament? Some call this a “parts tracker”. How about a feature which lets you know whether the specific equipment you have is optimal to create the model you want.

G-Code can help you save resources for future prints and make sure your models come out great. Learning G-Code for this reason alone will sway people.

Automatic Calibration

There are times where you might have to fix a certain part in your printer. Think about something with a lot of wear and tear for a 3D printer.

Something like a printer bed can get damaged easily and will need some replacement sometime in the future. 

When you do replace it, knowing G-Code and some machine learning will help you put the bed in the right position without extra work. Better yet, you can write code to make sure the print bed, nozzle, and extruder align.

Manual set up is usually the biggest time sink for set up. Setting up the code will save a lot of time.

How Long Does It Take To Learn G-Code

G-Code is similar to SQL in that the syntax is easy to learn. We’re not going to do a deep dive on G-Code commands, but just like anything, there are probably a few commands which you use more than others.

The same can be said for web development, machine learning, and more. An important note is a lot of G-Code software isn’t manually written. We want you to learn G-Code so you’re able to look and understand the code while adding a few lines where necessary.

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