Design Setup & FAQ
We appreciate that creating your first laser cut part can be intimidating so we have compiled some advice to aid your design work.
Supported File Types
We can accept many common design file types as below:-
|CorelDRAW (*.cdr, *.eps)|
|Adobe Illustrator (*.ai)|
Inkscape (*.svg) - (Free)
|Solidworks (*.dxf, *.slddrw)|
If you don’t have drawing software that exports to one of the above file types please email us before placing an order so we can check your requirement (in some instances we can help generate simple designs). Note that Inkscape is available online as FREE SOFTWARE.
Cut Lines. All cut geometry should be designed in a single colour (BLACK - RGB Value 0,0,0), line weight (thickness) should be set to ‘hairline’ (Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator) or approx 0.1mm.
Line Engrave (also called Vector Engrave). Line engrave relates to a single pass of the laser at the centreline of geometry, it is the same process as laser cutting but is at a reduced power. Typically line engraving can produce a maximum marking width of 1mm. Engraving should be distinguished from cut geometry by either layering your design (e.g. Layer 1 – cut profiles, Layer 2 - line engrave), or geometry can be coloured to clarify requirement, BLACK = cut, RED (RGB Value 255,0,0) = line engrave.
Raster Engrave (also called Filled or Scan Engraving). Relates to multiple zig-zag passes of the laser between geometry lines creating a filled effect. Raster engraving should be distinguished on a separate layer (e.g. Layer 1 – cut profiles, Layer 2 - line engrave, Layer 3 - raster engrave), or geometry can be coloured to clarify requirement, BLACK = cut, RED = line engrave, BLUE = raster engrave (RGB Value 0,0,255).
Good Sheet Layout
Cut shapes in the centre of the material with gaps between parts.
We recommend a minimum gap between parts of 2mm or 1/3 of the material thickness (whichever is greater).
Shared Cut Lines
No gaps between parts, not recommended. Parts susceptible to distortion and a common cause of inferior parts / geometry errors.
Typically caused by trying to fit too much on an available sheet size.
Please ensure your geometry file meets the maximum size criteria on our product listing pages (width x length).
Design files that do not meet the size criteria may be rejected or cause a delay in the processing of your order. In all instances please contact us if you have a query about your file before placing an order.
Size & Cutting Limitations
Our laser has a cutting bed or 1200mm x 900mm, cutting depth approx 300mm (we can also accommodate larger sheet materials via a bypass hatch). Size limitations can also relate to the sheet materials available to us (refer to product pages for available sizes).
Cutting power is 100W (CO2 Laser Source).
Materials to Cut & Engrave
We can process many materials as listed below and are happy to try further materials on request.
Acrylic, Perspex, Plastics, PVC, Glass, Acrylic Mirror, Leather, Slate, Stone, Paper, Granite, Wood, Cork, Glass, Crystal, Garments, Denim, Paper, Leather, Rubber, Stones, Ceramic, Gaskets, Mobile phones.
We predominately process non-metallic materials but we can also engrave many metals just ask for further details.
Cutting Width (Kerf)
Cutting width or kerf relates to the width of the groove made when cutting. For laser cutting this is very narrow but it needs to be considered when parts are deigned to slot or fit together. With reference to the picture below designing a jigsaw without considering the kerf width would make the joints loose. To compensate you can offset the design by half the known kerf width (where known this is detailed on the material listing pages). Example below has a kerf width of 0.2mm, so you should look to design your part oversized by 0.1mm (all round) to compensate.
Fit Issues When Not Considering Kerf
Additional Resources & Useful Links
- Selected supplier list and resources list coming soon.