An Easy and OPEN CNC Language for Digital Fabrication

OpenSBP® is a syntax standard for the toolpath and instruction code used to control CNC machines and digital fabrication tools. As described here, it is in the public domain and freely available for use on any equipment. It may be generated and exported by any software for use on digital fabrication tools.

The OpenSBP Group

The OpenSBP Group is composed of CNC software companies, CNC tool manufacturers, and users supporting the development of this open syntax standard for the toolpath and instruction code used to control CNC machines and digital fabrication tools. The group seeks to develop a standard syntax that is easy for human users to read, is readily implemented by different controllers, and offers more flexibility and extensibility than legacy G-code. OpenSBP® is freely available for use in any CNC or digital fabrication system and by any company. The current certification process is described on the Licensing page. All users are invited to participate in the OpenSBP Group community.

Note that OpenSBP® is not intended to be the high-level, 3D-model-integrated language that many of us envision as the long-term goal for a digital fabrication language. Rather, it is a simple, easy-to-use-and-implement system available to serve current needs and help standardize working with today's digital fabrication tools.

ShopBot Tools

The core coding format for OpenSBP® was developed by ShopBot Tools, Inc for use on ShopBot CNC routers. It has become attractive to other developers because of its simple, straightforward, and human-readable approach to machine control. ShopBots read g-code as well as OpenSBP but believe that OpenSBP is the most useful and efficient format for anyone not dependent on g-code for legacy reasons.

ShopBot has contributed the syntax, along with full documentation and support resources, to the public domain and it is available on this site. ShopBot encourage the use of OpenSBP® in any CNC tool or digital fabrication product and will continue to work with the OpenSBP Group and community of users on its development. The OpenSBP Group plans to develop an Advisory Board to establish general guidelines for using and expanding the OpenSBP® format and syntax, for managing certification, and for developing supporting documentation including helpful documentation for creating post-processors for OpenSBP®.

Open SBP® Syntax

  • OpenSBP® is a sequential list of text Commands representing instructions to a digital tool.
  • All Commands take the form of a two-letter mnemonics.
  • Commands may be followed by one or more ordered parameters separated by commas:

    XX, parameter, parameter, ...

    Code Example:
    M3, 23.21, 10, -0.23443 {a 3-axis move to X,Y,Z}
    MZ, -.88 {a Z-axis move}
    'comment here {a Remark line}

  • Indents, white space, blank lines may be used freely.
  • M3 (or M5) for 3-axis (or 5-axis) vectors and CG for arcs and circles and circles are the primary workhorse commands for toolpath description.
  • Programming Instructions, using a BASIC-like syntax, are also available in OpenSBP®. See the full details of the Language.
  • Files are text format, saved with the ".sbp" extension.

Open SBP® Programming Extensions

Details of usage for each Command and its Parameters is fully described in the Command Reference document.

Download Command Reference

Open SBP® Resources

OpenSBP® Resources are provided to make working with and developing in OpenSBP® easier. The resources should be helpful in developing and testing post-processors for the language. Those developing post-processors may also find it useful to employ the current ShopBot Control Software with which they can study and test code in Preview Mode. ShopBot Control Software is available for free download.

Open SBP® Participant Info

The OpenSBP Group is an open community of companies and individuals interested in CNC code. Companies participating in OpenSBP offer products that will generate (post) code in the OpenSBP format.

To become a particpant, please contact us.

Company Products
ArtCAM/Delcam Complete Artistic Design & Manufacturing Solution - ArtCAM Express, ArtCAM Insignia & ArtCAM Pro
Cabinet Parts Pro Cabinet Parts Pro Cabinet Design Software
CNC Software, Inc. Mastercam family of CAD/CAM products
MecSoft Corporation VisualMILL, RhinoCAM, Alibre CAM, VisualTURN, VisualART, FreeMILL
SA International Enroute, Flexi
ShopBot Tools, Inc. ShopBot CNC Control Software
VectorArt3D 3D Models and Collections for CNC, Custom Models
Vectric PartWorks, Aspire, V-Carve Pro, Cut-3D, Cut-2D, Photo V-Carve

Open SBP® Language

Programming extensions to the OpenSBP® language are modeled after the syntanx of the BASIC language. A number of programming instructions have been implemented and the plan is to use BASIC-like syntax for further enhancements.

OpenSBP® has also established procedures for interacting with system variables of the operative Control System and for moving data in and out of the Windows Registry.

OpenSBP® Programming Extensions are fulling described in the Programming Handbook.

Download Programming Handbook

Open SBP® License

OpenSBP® is an open syntax standard for the toolpath and instruction code used to control CNC machines and digital fabrication tools. It is intended to be easy for human users to read and should be readily implemented by different controllers. It offers more flexibility and extensibility than legacy G-code.

OpenSBP® is freely available for use in any CNC or digital fabrication system and companies and users are invited to participate in the OpenSBP® community. As interest develops, an open public forum will be established and an Advisory Board selected.

Currently, any member of the community may self-certify "OpenSBP" compliance and use the registered trademark [held, at the moment, by ShopBot]. The OpenSBP Group and its Advisory Board will attempt to keep certification a free and self-maintained option. However, the Advisory Board may eventually decide on a need for certification and modest fees to support a certification system.

The OpenSBP® standard has been developed with guidance of two helpful documents:

It is the intention of the OpenSBP Group and ShopBot Tools to observe the 6 principles of Perens and the 10 guidelines of Krechmer in developing OpenSBP® for the widest possible use.

Open SBP® Community

The second meeting of the OpenSBP Group was held in conjunction with this year's AWFS Meeting in Las Vegas, CA July 15-18.

Blog and Forum coming soon…