CNC milling contours

I just got a CNC mill and am trying to figure out how I can control the Z axis depth from the source art?

Am I missing something, or do I need to make separate shapes for each depth and then add them to the workspace as separate operations with a manual set end Z depth?

The laser has a Bitmap that can control the laser intensity, is there something similar where the pixel color/ alpha controls the z-axis? ie alpha=0 is z of 20mm and 255 = 0mm ?

If this doesn’t exist, is there plans to support it?

You can use something like Artcam to create a relief.

I’ve not used anything else.

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Plenty of options here!

Our very own @Scorch wrote F-Engrave

You might also look at CAMLab by Sienci Labs, based on Kiri:Moto:

Here’s a gratis windows program:

On the commercial side, I think that I’ve seen reference to Vectric’s V-Carve having the functionality but I don’t know for sure.

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You don’t need any additional tools as LaserWeb has an integrated CAM!

You just select the contour you want to mill by either selecting it in the graphics or in the object tree below documents and push the blue “Create Single” Button. This creates an operation below. You then need to set the operation type (mill cut inside, mill cut outside, mill pocket…) and set the params of the operation (like Set Start Z, End Z, Pass Depth, tool diameter, tool speed (rpm), plunge rate, cut rate…
When all operation and params are set, push the orange “Generate” button.

Also check:

You could also have a look at Photo ToMesh in Ransen Software.

@cprezzi I understand the OP to be asking about depthmap relief contour generation CAM, rather than milling contours already generated from a depthmap (and selecting each contour separately for a milling operation for image relief would be mind-numbing anyway, obviously). It’s not obvious to me from the documentation to which you link that LaserWeb supports generating milling toolpaths from a depthmap, like raster engraving an image. Maybe I’m missing something?

Here is a nice simple online lithophane maker;


Thanks all. That has given me a bunch to things to try.


@mcdanlj You guessed right, I did not understand the question to be depthmap related. LW does not supprt depthmaps. I thougth he just wants to mill stuff from plain svg’s (without z information).

Theoretically it should be possible to generate gcode with a “laser engrave” operation and then remap the S values to Z values. This could probably be added as an additional operation type.