The laser cutter can use vector file information and raster image information from a variety of programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Adobe Photoshop, Inkscape and other graphic programs. If you do not have those programs, export your files into .pdf file format and bring your original file just in case. All files should be exported to PDF as an end format.
Exporting your files:
From Photoshop: save as PDF.
From Illustrator/Inkscape/Corel Draw: save as PDF.
From SketchupPro: 2D export the view as PDF.
From AutoCad: Export to DWF/PDF, save as PDF.
Document size should be 12″ high by 24″ wide, always oriented in landscape. Please be sure that any artwork is constrained within the 12″x24″ document size.
To create a design that will cut through materials:
The laser cutter uses vector lines to cut. Three programs that use vectors to make drawings are Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw and Inkscape, but others exist as well. Under the menu item ->Object, look for an option labeled ->Stroke. In this windows you can change the Stroke Width to 0.001″ wide (or 72px if you are using pixels as your unit of measure). The Epilog print driver will only recognize lines sized exactly 0.001″ wide as a cutting shape.
PDFs are the best file type for both cutting and engraving, so save your drawings as a PDF, but bring the original file and your laptop with you to the Lab. Most first time cuts will need editing!
To generate a line that will cut a material, set your program to make the line .001 inches (hairline) in thickness.
To create a design on the surface of the material, (Engraving):
Any line that is thicker than .001 inches (hairline) will not cut, but will burn a light layer off of the top of the material. Black and white photographs and graphic designs with thick areas of black will engrave materials and not cut them. Engraving is very time consuming and the more complex the image the longer it will take the laser cutter to engrave the image.
Photographs take the longest amount of time, while thick black lines found in black and white graphic images take the least. Any file that can be exported to a .pdf file format can be used to engrave a material. File formats such as .jpg, tiff, .ai, .eps and many more can be used although they may need to be converted to .pdf file format before being used by the laser cutter.
Laser safe materials
We have 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch acrylic of many colors in stock. We also have 1/8 inch wood and mat board. Any materials that are not determined to be laser safe cannot be cut. Plexiglass Acrylic (not plastic) and wood or paper products (cardboard, mat board) are generally safe materials.
|* CO2 lasers will mark bare metals when coated with a metal marking solution. For more information, visit our laser metal marking page.|