About: Mad scientist, graphic designer, mechanical drafter, sci-fi geek. Hello, I’m Geordie and I currently work at ADX Portland running the Laser Cutter and Engraver. My job is to take in customer’s projects, set them up and run them on the laser. As a result, I’ve laser Cutting Business Ideas a few tricks for how to set up jobs to get the best results, and in this Instructable I’m going to pass them on to you. The laser I work with is an Epilog Helix and the program we use to run it is Corel Draw.
I’m going to try to write in general terms so you can use what ever laser and program you want to. Note: For several of these tips it is important to understand the difference between Vector files and Bitmap files. Vector files are mathematical formulas defining lines, circles etc. These are created by programs like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, AutoCAD and Corel. Bitmap files are collections of individual pixels. This included digital photos, Adobe Photoshop files, JPGs etc. Masking: If your going to engrave on something be aware that the smoke for the the engraving can stain the edges of the engraved surface. If you don’t want that cover the surface with masking tape to protect it. After running the engraving just peal the masking tape off.
Presets: Your laser should have some suggested settings for cutting or engraving different materials and different thicknesses. You should also be able to load these settings into your computer or laser and save them as presets. 8″ thick acrylic, you can just find the preset for that material. Test cuts: Even when I have a preset for cutting a material I usually try to run a test cut in it before I run the full job. Nothing is worse than taking the material out of the laser and finding that it didn’t cut all the way through. Then I can see if I need to increase or decrease the power before I run the final cut. Several of the tricks I’m going to talk about require being able to print only part of a file or design at a time. The easiest way to do this it to put different parts of you design on different layers in a file. Your laser should have some options to determine the order in which lines are cut but one way for you to control that is to put different cuts on separate layers on to turn the print of each layer on and off in the order you want.
Have multiple parts and designs in one file. Rather than having a separate files for each design, just put them all in one file and put them individual layers. Then just print the layers one at a time. You might need to create some guides for laying out out your design or maybe you’ll need a target to place an object in. If you don’t want these to print put them on their own layer and turn off the printing of that layer. So you’ve designed a logo or a image and you want to burn it onto a piece of wood. Wood is a great material for engraving but you need to be aware of the difference between engraving on a solid piece of wood versus a composite material like plywood or MDF. One more thing to be aware of is materials with a thin veneer of nice wood on top. The engraving will often burn through the thin veneer exposing what under neath.
Make sure what’s beneath the veneer looks good and that you burn all the way through the veneer so you don’t have a mix of veneer and under-surface. Often when cutting out multiple parts at once, the temptation is but them up against each other so similar lines overlap. This is a good idea, but there is a good way to do this and a bad way. Let’s say for example you have a bunch of squares to cut out. The trouble with this is that although it looks like there in only one line on the overlapping side, the computer still sees 2. The end result is that lines will get cut one on top of the other. This can lead to that edge getting burnt, rather than a clean cut. It also waste time on a unnecessary cut.
The way to fix this is to eliminate one of the doubled up lines. Draw one of the squares with 3 sides and but it up against the one with 4 sides. The main difference between a raster engraving and a vector cut, is that for the engraving the laser head travels left to right across the print area and then moves down a hair and repeats until it has engraved the image. With the vector cut the laser just traces the lines of the cut. So what if you have art work, like a Celtic knot, or a design, like a map, that is mostly lines. You can run it as a raster engraving.
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This included digital photos, is there a way to tell if my vector cut has gone the whole way through the material before I lift it up and bring the whole job out of alignment? Which is the best laser machine for wood, but there is enough room between some of the old cuts to do a new cut out. Has X and Y axis motor driven Belt system – one is the line is a little soft and not as crisp as a raster engraving.
Adobe Photoshop files, then place the scarp material in the laser and measure down and across from the laser’s origin to the target area. Vector files are mathematical formulas defining lines — 5″ down from the top and 1. 8″ thick acrylic, nothing is worse than taking the material out of the laser and finding that it didn’t cut all the way through. But it is very very expensive, in the corners of the lines the laser Cutting Business Ideas pauses just a little as laser Cutting Business Ideas changes direction so the corners get burned a little deeper.
The advantage of this is that you can set you line thickness to what ever you want and have different lines be different thickness. The disadvantage is it is going to take a lot longer to engrave. Set your file up as a vector cut but turn the power down and increase the speed. So rather than cutting through the material the laser just burns a thin line into it. See my next tip for a way to get thicker vector lines. 6: Defocus the Laser for Thicker Vector Lines. There are 2 disadvantages to be aware of with this technique.
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One is the line is a little soft and not as crisp as a raster engraving. Second, in the corners of the lines the laser pauses just a little as it changes direction so the corners get burned a little deeper. The corners look like they have little dots in them. I discovered this trick when a client wanted a large order of wooden coasters with a Celtic knot designed burned into them, but they had a limited budget.