Welcome to the laser basics guide. This guide is designed to provide a basic overview of how to create a design for laser engraving.
First things first - when working with laser engravers, it is essential to know the difference between vector images and raster images.
A vector image stores all the lines and colours as mathematical formulas. Raster images are pixel-based. This means that the image is made up of many small squares. Vector images can be scaled up without any loss in quality whereas raster images will start to “pixelate” at a certain enlargement.
Vector file types: SVG, EPS, PDF, DXF, DWG, CDR (CorelDRAW), AI (Adobe Illustrator)
Raster file types: JPG, PNG, GIF
You can use the software of your choice as long as you export your file in a suitable format. Below are some examples of graphic design software.
- Autodesk Fusion 360 (free for hobbyists and small businesses)
- Blender (free, open-source)
- FreeCAD (free open-source)
- Tinkercad (free)
Some General Settings
The first thing that should be considered is the size of your material as this determines the maximum size of your design. In general, it is a good idea to set the artwork area/ canvas to this size.
The colour profile should be set to RGB.
It is important that your vector graphics do not have a background. When the graphic is imported into the laser software it will treat this background as a part of the engraving.
When you are ready to import your vector, head to FILE > IMPORT VECTOR and any files saves as one of the above vector file types will be available to place into your workspace. Once you have imported your vector file, you can manipulate the nodes, lines and curves before hatching (if desired) and engraving.
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