Just as there is a big difference between knowing how to operate a typewriter, and knowing how to write the next great novel - there is a big gap between knowing how to operate a laser (and it's software) and designing something cool for it. LaserCut is capable of importing designs (cut paths) from a few different formats, including DXF and AI (Adobe Illustrator), and It is highly recommended that for anything but the simplest, most primitive designs that you prepare your design in some other suitable program, and import it into LaserCut in the lab. (Aside from giving you infinitely more robust design capabilities, this frees-up usage of the laser computer for those running the laser, as opposed to drafting designs). Simple drafting program - EASY learning curve, though not very powerful. More suited for 3D designs (think: 3D printer!) but works well for 2D (unless you start changing around your views in a 3d space). Free for basic use. Not extremely powerful, but good for drafting basics. Great, free vector graphics program. Learning curve isn't too bad, and numerous tutorials are available. I would classify this as more of an 'artistic/drawing' program than an 'engineering/drafting' program. Great for artistic elements, though not as good for pure 'drafting' - though can be used as such - especially considering it's ease-of use. Inkscape also has tools to turn bitmaps into vector/line drawings/paths suitable for cutting. ...and enable 'black and white' mode. This will make the image a true '1-bit' bitmap that LaserCut wants for raster engraving files. The prefered method of export would be to: This method will allow you to import your bitmap as a 1-bit file, which is the way that LaserCut wants to get it. If not, you will have to use LaserCut's 'Half Bmitmap' (i.e. 'Half Bitmap') function which will interpret/dither it in ways that you maybe didn't want. Of course, paint isn't that powerful of a graphic editor - and if you would like to clean up your design ahead of time, you might want to use a program like Photoshop or GIMP (below). Gimp is a free photo editor (similar to photoshop). I am including it here because while it is not suitable for designing cut-paths (vectors), it is well suited for preparing bitmaps for raster engraving Scale your image (under 'Image' select 'Scale Image') for a size that will be suitable for engraving on you actual work. Some material sheets will give a perfered 'DPI' for raster operations. You can enter that, but others will only list the 'scan gap' setting. You can determine DPI from the 'Scan Gap' setting of the material you are engraving. (See the Example: If you are engraving glass with a 0.055 scan gap - use a 461 dpi image. Wood (0.085 scan gap) would be about 300 dpi. Conciser if you want to dither your image, to represent shades of grey as different dot patterns (see below). Different images may have very different characteristics when converting to 1-bit. This can always be finessed with adjusting the brightness and contrast of your original artwork. Remember - The laser will turn 'on' and 'off' when it raster-engraves. Thus the bitmap should be 'black' or 'white'. No color or grey. Dithering produces a 'grey' effect by dithering black and white pixels. full-featured free 3D CAD program. To use it for laser work you will only want to be using a single 2D 'sketch' - which can be exported/downloaded as a DXF. Big benefits include it's free, can be used from any web browser, and stores everything in the cloud for access everywhere. It is also a good 'stepping stone' to get into 3D designs. Furthermore, if you are cutting pieces as components of a 3D design, this might be a better overall design paradigm. Onshape is unique in that it is a full-featured free 3D CAD program. Similar to Onshape above, but fuller-featured, and a 'donwloadable'/installable program that can run on Mac or Windows. This is a great professional-grade design tool (which seems to be trying to compete with SolidWorks). To use it for laser work you will only want to be using a single 2D 'sketch' - which can be exported/downloaded as a DXF. Big benefits include it's free, and stores everything in the cloud for access everywhere. It is also a good 'stepping stone' to get into 3D designs. Furthermore, if you are cutting pieces as components of a 3D design, this might be a better overall design paradigm. Popular FREE version of a commercial engineering/drafting program. Definitely a steeper learning curve, but has powerful, professional design abilities - though I would not recommend if you're intent is to do heavy artistic/aesthetic design. Source.


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Last Modified: April 23, 2016 @ 5:02 am