FreeCAD Path Workbench / Post Processor

Hi! I’m currently in the market for a 4x4 CNC system. I’m a long-time Shapeoko user, and I’m currently comparing the Elite Foreman with the Shapeoko 5 Pro. I already know that my CAD/CAM workflow will work flawlessly with the GRBL controller in the Shapeoko.

I’m using FreeCAD and it’s Path Workbench to generate all of my toolpaths. Has anyone had any success with the MASSO controller and the post-processors that are available in FreeCAD?

It looks like there are a couple of threads here expressing interest in using FreeCAD CAM with these machines, but does anyone have any real-world success?

Thanks in advance!

Yes. I saw that post.

I’m wondering if anyone in the real world is having success with FreeCAD CAM and the 1F MASSO controller.

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I will let you know soon. I used it a fair bit on a Journeyman.

I am waiting on my Elite Foreman. FreeCad should do well with this controller… more features to exploit.


Awesome! I would really appreciate that. The Elite Foreman does look like a great machine. Unless I’m misunderstanding something it’s more or less the same price as the Shapeoko 5 Pro, and appears to be a bit of a better deal.

I’ve just got hundreds of projects and thousands of hours into FreeCAD’s gcode generation for the Shapeoko GRBL controller, and I’d just really like to confirm that I’m not going to run into a bunch of issues with the MASSO controller and my CAM pipeline. If it’s basically LinuxCNC, then it sounds like it shouldn’t be a problem.

While I’m not one to bash the competition, I do like to make sure potential buyers have all the facts. I’ve never seen the newest Shapeoko in person, nor have I seen the new 1F Elite. But from a purely machine design standpoint, I will just offer one pic for your consideration. The comparison shown below is a 15mm sq. linear rail vs. a 50mm round linear rail. The difference in surface area alone should speak volumes as to which machine is built beefier.

I had to sell my Machinist in order to get an even smaller machine (wish I could get a do-over on that), but my new machine also has 15mm linear rails with 12mm ball screws. On that machine, 15mm linear rails make it a beast. But it’s a very small 3020 series machine that has been relentlessly upgraded for accuracy and repeatability.

I also can’t vouch for the overall frame assembly accuracy on the Shapeoko, but I can on the Onefinity. Generally speaking, machines that use sq. linear rails are built using custom end & side plates and off-the-shelf alum. extrusions. The linear rails are then bolted to the extrusions. And unless they have some seriously good assembly jigs to aid in assembly, there are far too many ‘degrees of freedom’ on these type of machine assemblies. Granted, it might not be much, but it’s there. And in most cases, it will be nearly impossible to make the machine assembly truly accurate without a great deal of toolmaking experience, knowledge, and tools. Each individual axis might be accurate and repeatable in and of themselves, but as an overall machine X-Y-Z assembly, not so much. Fewer frame components is a very good strength of the 1F design. Less parts = less tweaking that needs to be done to ensure an accurate assembly.


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I completely understand all of that, which is why I’m here.

But the reality is for the kind of work that I’m doing (primarily multi-part furniture cut in sheet stocks), either machine will likely work very well.

It’s also very important to me that my CAM pipeline works well on the machine that I purchase. A very well built and rigid CNC that I don’t have a good gcode pipeline for isn’t as useful as a (potentially) less rigid CNC that works flawlessly with my design and manufacturing software… which is the primary point of the original post.

Hoping CandL will be able to get me some intel soon. If not, maybe someone here will be willing to experiment with some gcode generated from a FreeCAD pipeline with one of the MASSO controller machines?

Hey Bill, hey Michael, hey all,

Absolutely. Here in this link one can see a machine assembling with such off-the-shelf aluminium extrusion profiles (although heavy) and the usual linear rails/bearings used. I love to see Marcel build a cnc machine and see that it will be a high precision machine. But one should always also think about what it’s worth when you bill the hours :slight_smile: – and doubt that it was done this way on every machine you can buy.

I believe the chrome-plated hardened steel hollow shafts (that also make the weight of the Onefinity) are beyond doubt. I think there could be other points to judge on, but I don’t want to reinitiate discussions here that one can search in the forum (I prefer to add own experiences when I will be ready to check the machine to put it through its paces).

With its unusual concept, on the Onefinity, the linear rails are not attached to the the axes. The rails are the axes. And the linear bearings run directly on them. And by the way, you can save the fairing that on other machines hides the quite ugly machine parts. The Onefinity is a design object.


Would really like to stay on topic here. I’m sure the Onefinity hardware is top-notch. It looks great. That’s why I’m interested.

This is about the software and its compatibility with a FreeCAD-based CAM pipeline. I have extensive custom software built on top of FreeCAD, and a top-notch machine that isn’t compatible with my software is useless to me. It can be the strongest, most precise machine on the planet, but if I have to rebuild my entire software stack to take advantage of it, it’s a total non-starter.


Hey Michael,

sorry for hijacking the topic :slight_smile:

I think the Masso community would better match your question. If the Masso works nicely with your CAD/CAM, then it’s not that much relevant what hardware machine is attached to it.


No worries! I appreciate that everyone seems very excited about these machines. That’s great.

I’ll have to check out the Masso community. That’s a good call. I’ll check into that, also.

I am confident the FreeCad Masso connection will work. About 5 months or so I posted what I thought was the correct command line args to run the post processor.

As a retired Mech Engineer/software developer… I used to express my confidence in the form of a wager.

As in a nice lunch or a nice dinner. This one falls in the category of nice dinner.

Since we are really talking the controller, shall I suggest you check out the Masso forums too.

But as I said… I cannot speak for certain. What I can say is our use case is VERY similar. I will me making a set of craftsman style end tables as a first project. So it will be eating a lot of 3/4 oak for its first meal.

After that cherry, walnut and of course plywood.

That was my bad for driving the train off the tracks. Apologies for that, and I totally get your primary concern here. Support of your existing designs is first and foremost, front-and-center of importance. Coming from a tool & machine background for my entire career, I get pretty passionate when it comes to various CNC designs.

I would not be surprised to learn that the Masso will handle your existing files just fine. My only surprise would be to find out if it didn’t. My CNC programs tend to be pretty simplistic, only controlling actual machine movement with no auxiliary I/O features. I have reused my G-code programs across multiple controllers ranging from Chinese off-line controllers, GRBL, Mach3, and Centroid Acorn (my final and favorite system).

Here is my earlier post:

I might also “plug” an earlier post on workflow:

So far, nothing over at the MASSO forum…

Totally understand. As a professional software developer, I’m only too well aware that should and does are often different things. It’s not so much about my existing g-code files… it’s about making sure that my entire CAM pipeline will work on this machine.

There’s very little in my g-code that’s not just a standard movement command. I would also be very surprised if it didn’t work… I’m actually kind of surprised nobody is using FreeCAD with these machines and controllers. But here we are.

Just really would like to make sure before I put down the cash and wait multiple months for a new machine.

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May I suggest you wait a couple of months.

I am pretty confident I will put the machine through it’s paces.

I will be using FreeCad for most of my work.

I do a decent job of reading G Code, but frankly may just hit the machine with some simple jobs to test it out

The Masso controller is from what I read (vs know first hand) much more capable compared to the Buildbotics.

Send me a PM and we can chat further.

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That also surprises me. It seems that most people prefer to use F360. I have the commercial version of this by virtue of the fact that we use Autodesk products at work, so I’m able to install them on my personal PC. Personally I’m not a huge fan of F360, I suppose mostly because I haven’t used it much and don’t relate as much to the workflow & UI like I do with Inventor or other more mainstream CAD programs. But from the little I’ve seen, FreeCAD looks like a capable product. Most of my projects are 2D or 2.5D in nature, so they tend to start out in 2D CAD as DXF files, then transfer into Estlcam for programming.

I’m a Freecad user for my CNC Plasma but for the 1F I use VCarve.

I started using F360 for some CAD work but they kept changing the licensing and then started disabling features in the hobby version that they decided we didn’t “need” - like rapid movements. Add in the pretty continuous UI changes they were rolling out for awhile & I switched to Freecad for some stability.

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Being a long-time Inventor user (not by choice), I find the lines between Inventor and F360 to be blurry… I don’t quite grasp what they were attempting to accomplish with F360. Seems like a dumbed-down, but largely parallel product. The real problem is that I haven’t had the motivation to really look that close at it. Hence, my uninformed opinion. :roll_eyes:

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An update on FreeCad and my Elite Foreman with ATC.

I just cut my first multi-tool part and learned a few things along the way.

First my post processor settings:


BUT THERE IS A PROBLEM. For the Linux postprocessor FreeCad spits out something like:

M6 T2

to change to tool two.

The Masso wants to see:

T2 M6

If the order is wrong the Masso ignores the following tool number and I assume stores it for the next tool change. My understanding per GCode “standard” the order of operations on a line makes no difference… but it does to Masso.

For now, I hand edit the GCode file swapping operations.

But, I am also working on refactoring the postprocessors for FreeCad. That means there will be a Masso Controller option in FreeCad. Guess who will be doing the Beta testing on real hardware.?

By the way the “Path workbench” is now called the “Cam Workbench”, and official version 1.0 of FreeCad will be out in a few months.

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