Export Drill Holes as Points for CNC Milling


maybe somwone herre can help me with my Problem.

I would like to produce PCB boards for rapid prototyping with the CNC mill, I have already managed to export the traces correctly, but I still have problems with the drill holes, because they are output as circles, but they are not real circles with a center but only circular polylines (i am not sure if i name it correctly). For my CAM software I need “real” circles or points, so that the software has a center and can drill the holes correctly.

Does anyone know how I can export the holes as points or “real” circles with center or convert them after export?

Thanks a lot Lukas

can your CAM import drill files or only gerbers?

Hi Claudio, thank you for your answer…

We are Using a CAM Plugin (Rhino CAM) for Rhino 5, What i did so far was Exporting Gerber File with Drill Holes from KiCAD in SVG fromat, then open it in Illustrator and export just The Drill Holes as DXF. Then Import it into Rhino.

What Data Format do you mean with “drill files?” , do you mean the “HPGL” Format?

no, they are not ‘graphical’ format like gerber or HPGL.
There are different formats for drill files, one common is Excellon, your CAM ‘sholud’ be capable to correctly interpreter this format of file as drilling.

Ok that answers my question. I looked at the drill files I normally produce for the PCB fab which are Excellon format. There they are specified as circles by diameter and centre. So can you accept this format in your CAM software? I suspect the SVG output and/or subsequent conversion approximate a circle by a polygon.

Ah okey, that cleares the up for me. unfortunatly Rhino can not import drill files, is there a chance to convert those drill files to a DXF with points? Otherwise we have to use a different CAM Software i guess?

I know nothing about the details of those formats but a search turned up this as one of the hits:

There were other results. Good luck.

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usually i use a PCB specialized CAM to import gerbers and drill files to my (pcb)mills.
I don’t know if there are free CAMs specialized for PCB milling, i only have the proprietary SW that comes with the mills.
If you can find one probably it will be able to export the processed gerber+exellon files as a g-code that can be fed to Rhino or directly to your cnc controller…

Thank you both very much for your answers… The thing is its a hige CNC Maschine (my Boss is a CNC Freak :wink: ) and its not easy to just switch the CAM Software (he just told me). So i have to find a way to convert the Drill files somehow i guess…

I will keep you up to date what i found, just in case in the Future someone has the same Problem.

Best Lukas


Short update:
i Didnt get your python script running (but thats my fauld) i found a convertder called “reaConverter” it worked pretty well, iot converts drill files to DXF and tons of of other formats. Unfortunatly its not freeware but they offer 14 days trial.

Thank you both very much for your help.

best Lukas

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This guy found a solution by fiddling a bit with hole sizes:

But overall, I would search on for a solution that directly converts drill files to G code, or write such a program myself. Both drill files and G code are pretty simple file formats.

I think “pcb2gcode” should be able to read a drill file and spit out G-code, but I did not test it.

Don’t use “generate drill files”, use “Plot” with dxf plot format. All holes are real circles. My CAM software drills holes from circles that are the same diameter as the selected drill tool. I suspect your CAM software is similar.I use it all the time for drilling PCB’s.

Here is my setup for dxf drill files

Hi Barrie,
i just tried what you said, but with this Method, the Drill Holes and the Traces are all in the Same File, right? Is it possible to not export the Traces but the Drill Holes?

Yes, all the traces are with the holes. If your CAM software only recognises true circles it should ignore the lines. The alternative is to generate a drill file as you explained in your original post. The dxf drill file will mark the smallest size holes with an X and the next smallest with O. For example If you want to drill many 1mm holes place a single hole 0.5mm on your PCB. The 1mm holes will then be marked with O’s

ok unfortunatly i need the holes and the Traces in different files, but, the workaround i described yesterday (with reaConverter) works actually pretty fine.

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