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CNC Plasma Cutting Terminology 101: G Code

At Tactical CNC, we like to take a closer look at many common CNC plasma cutting terms and phrases.  We do this for two reasons, to provide helpful education for prospective CNC plasma cutting system buyers and for in-depth knowledge for existing customers.  We believe in providing our clients with what we call a ‘complete’ CNC plasma cutting system.  By complete we mean that when you buy a Tactical CNC plasma cutting system you will have everything you need to accomplish the exact cuts you want on your assorted materials with precision and accuracy.  You will not need to get add-ons or go through additional expenses to complete your plasma cutting system, you will have exactly what you need.  And, the knowledge and education we provide is simply an extension of that ‘complete’ system and the level of customer service we are dedicated to providing our clients with.  For the purposes of this particular article we will be exploring G Code – what it is and why it matters in regards to CNC plasma cutting.

What is G Code

At it’s core, G Code is a language that you CNC plasma cutting software uses to assist you in completing your cuts with precision and accuracy.  Autodesk explains what specifically G Code is, “G-code is a programming language for CNC that instructs machines where and how to move. Most machines speak a different “dialect” of g-code, so the codes vary depending on type, make, and model. Each machine comes with an instruction manual that shows that particular machine’s code for a specific function.G-code stands for “geometric code,” and follows some variation of the alpha numeric pattern:N## G## X## Y## Z## F## S## T## M##…Every g-code tells the machine which variation of these basic motions to perform, and how to perform it. X and Y are Cartesian coordinates for horizontal and vertical position, and Z represents the depth of the machine. These alpha numerals will follow the motion/function command (G) to declare the position of the machine.Next, F determines the feed rate (for feed moves or circular moves), while S determines the spindle speed. T is used to select a tool. Other alpha numerals used in programming might include I, J, and R, which have to do with arc centers and radii.”

Why G Code is Important

G Code is possibly one of the most important aspects of CNC plasma cutting.  Without G Code, the CNC of CNC plasma cutting, aka the automation component of cutting, might not be possible.  If your plasma cutting system does not come with software (and thus the G Code language your system needs to understand what you want to accomplish) you will have to make a separate investment to be able to actually run your CNC plasma cutter.  Our CNC plasma cutting software is exceptional and very easy to use!

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Tactical CNC introduces a single oxy-fuel station to compliment your plasma cutting system.
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