Mountboard, Card Etc.
Thickness from 1mm - 10mm
Fabric different kind up to 10mm thickness
Paper and Cardboard
Cutting of MDF and Plywood up to 4mm thickness. Engraving of solid woods.
The laser cutter is a simple machine in terms of the amount of axis and that it just needs to follow the lines in a drawing. That being said there are still some things that need to be kept in mind when designing artwork to be cut/engraved.
Our laser cutter has a 1000mm x 600mm working bed, however we would suggest working with a 995mm x 595mm frame as to ensure that all the artwork fits within the boundary. Depending on the material it may be pre-cut with straight edges, or in some cases it may come slightly ragged from one or more side. We would therefore suggest to work with a 5-10mm offset. Not all materials come pre-cut to 1000mm x 600mm so one should keep in mind the available sizes of materials.
Unlike a CNC machine, a laser cutter doesn’t have milling bits with different shapes and sizes that need to be taken into account. However the laser beam itself does have a thickness and depending on the material there are some tolerances that you would want to keep in mind. Here are some figures to help you with your design:
By Varying the power and technique of the cut the laser can engrave, score or cut the material. The images below show examples of each of these techniques.
Depending on the complexity or on how delicate an artwork would turn out to be you might want to be able to support it well so as to avoid damage during the cutting process.
Pieces that are meant to fall through might get caught on the material and may obstruct the nozzle of the laser cutter.
This can sometimes lead to the nozzle colliding and moving the material which would then ruin the cut.
You might want all pieces to remain attached until the end of the cut for ease of sorting later or for whatever any number of reasons.
One way of achieving this is to work ‘tabs’ into the design of your artwork.
This would allow you to make sure that all pieces remain attached for any engraving or scoring that is left.
It would also allow you to keep small delicate pieces in place until you can carefully extract them.
Sometimes words or details would have to be cut out from the main piece instead. In this case some characters will have pieces that would need to be supported.
Another use for tabs is to deliver an end product that comes in a frame as the pieces might be small and easily lost, to save time one making sure the right amount of components go into a set or just so they are packaged neatly.
A general rule of thumb for tabs is to make them as wide as half the material thickness to be able to support the piece well. As you go up in thickness (8,10,12 mm etc) it can be less than half. We recommend using between 2 and 4 tabs for every object, however depending on the size and shape you can get away with just using one.
An Alternative method to using tabs to control how your artwork is cut is to use layers to separate objects.
You may want to define the order of how different parts of your artwork are cut depending on its design.
Another reason to separate your artwork in layers is to define what is meant to be cut and what is meant to be engraved/scored.
In the example below you can see that we have multiple cuts within others and how they are ordered.
It would not be ideal for the green layer to be cut before the blue one as, depending on the size, it might fall through before the laser has a chance to cut the inner design.
Blue is first since it is the inner most design and it is defined as ‘cut’ so it will be cut all the way through.
Yellow is the second layer and is defined as ‘engrave’ so the settings will be changed accordingly.
At this point it does not matter whether the yellow engraving or the blue cutting is done first as they are independent of each other.
Green is now safe to be cut since both yellow and blue have been engraved and cut. The red and final layer can be cut now that all the designs within it have been cut and engraved.
Colours don’t necessarily have to be used to order different objects in different layers but they can help visualize the process and point out any mistakes that would need to be amended.