.NC File Extension

Mastercam Numerical Control File

Developer CNC Software
3.7  |  64 Votes

What is an NC file?

An NC file is a data file created by CNC Mastercam, a suite of CAD tools used for designing and manufacturing mechanical components. It contains numerical control instructions for directing a CNC machine tool, such as a router, drill, or boring tool, during the production of the component.

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Screenshot of a .nc file in CNC Software Mastercam Learning Edition 2023
NC file open in CNC Software Mastercam Learning Edition 2023

CNC Mastercam is a widely-used CAD/CAM package for engineers or machinists to design and produce mechanical components. When a user saves a 2D or 3D machine toolpath in the Toolpaths pane in Mastercam, the software creates an NC to store its information.

Users typically save their NC file(s) to a portable storage device, such as a USB flash drive, then transfer it to a CNC machine tool. They then load the file in the tool to direct it as its cuts a path in a piece of material, such as wood, plastic, or metal.

How to open an NC file

You can open an NC file with CNC Mastercam in Windows by selecting File → Open. CNC Software offers Mastercam Learning Edition, which is a free trial of Mastercam that limits some capabilities.

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Programs that open NC files

CNC Software Mastercam Learning Edition

mcrypt Encrypted File

Developer N/A
3.7  |  11 Votes

An NC file may also be a file encrypted with mcrypt, a Linux crypting utility that allows users to encrypt and decrypt files or data streams. It contains a file encrypted with an algorithm, such as md5, tiger, or whirlpool, specified by the user and secured with a passphrase.

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mcrypt is a tool that replaces the crypt() package and crypt(1) command. The program provides the option to encrypt and compress a file with GNU zip (gzip) compression, which appends the ".gz.nc" extension to the file, or encrypt and compress a directory as a TAR archive compressed with gzip, which appends the ".tar.gz.nc" extension to the file.

Programs that open NC files


NetCDF File

Developer Unidata
3.3  |  21 Votes

An NC file may also be a data file created in the netCDF (network Common Data Form) format, a format used for storing multidimensional data in a manner independent of the platforms and disciplines for which it is used. NC files are often used by scientific researchers for GIS, atmospheric, climate, and ocean model data, as well as for data in other related fields. Each NC file includes descriptive information about the data in addition to the data itself.

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NC files can be manipulated using Unidata's free netCDF tools, a set of libraries that provide interfaces in the Java, C, C++, Fortran, and Perl programming languages. The netCDF tools maintain backward compatibility with any previous file format versions. NC files are also supported by many other applications and command-line utilities.

The netCDF format is recognized by organizations such as NASA's Earth Science Data Standards group, the Open Geospatial Consortium, and the Federal Geographic Data Committee.

Programs that open NC files

DSTV Numerical Control File

Developer Deutscher Stahlbau-Verband
4.0  |  2 Votes

An NC file may also be an ASCII text file that contains data representing a piece of steel. It stores information computer numerical control (CNC) machines use to drill into, cut, punch, or otherwise alter steel to build a structure. NC files are saved in the Deutscher Stahlbau-Verband (DSTV) file format.

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Screenshot of a .nc file in Steel Projects CAD Viewer
NC file open in Steel Projects CAD Viewer

The Deutscher Stahlbau-Verband is a German association that represents the interests of the German steel industry. In the 1990s, to help standardize data transfers between computer-aided design (CAD) programs and CNC machines, the association created the DSTV file format. Various CAD programs use the DSTV format to save information that CNC machines require to alter a piece of steel to build a larger structure. Notably, each DSTV file corresponds to one specific component included in a structure (though programs may use the NC file to create multiple copies of that component).

Because DSTV is an open standard, various CAD programs save DSTV files using different extensions, including .nc, .nc1, and .cnc. The Deutscher Stahlbau-Verband recommends that programs save DSTV-format files as NC files. Autodesk Advance Steel and Tekla Structures save DSTV-format files as NC files.

How to open an NC file

You can open an NC file with various steel-related CAD programs and viewers, including:

  • Autodesk Advance Steel (Windows)
  • Tekla Structures (Windows)
  • Steel Projects CAD Viewer (Windows)

Since NC files are ASCII text files, you can also open them with any text editor if you wish to view the text they contain.

How to convert an NC file

Autodesk Advance Steel can export an NC file to various file types, including the following formats:

  • .DWG - AutoCAD Drawing
  • .DXF - Drawing Exchange Format
  • .IFC - Industry Foundation Classes File

Programs that open or reference NC files

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