Preparing Laser Cutter Files – Guide

Overview

This guide outlines the main requirements to ensure a seamless workflow from submission to print.

Laser Cutter General Info

Each Laser Cutter usage setting (etching, vector cutting & combined) includes different preparation quirks. If your artwork contains any type/fonts/words, please see tips at the bottom of this article.


Etching

The laser cutter treats all raster and fill based imagery (other than those based with hex fill of #ffffff), as etching cuts.

A solid filled object will etch regardless of colour, except if #ffffff white
A gradient filled object will etch, the laser cutter treats this as greyscale and reads the image as white 0% power, black as 100% power
A combined gradient and fill image will etch, the laser cutter treats these images as greyscale and reads the image as white at 0% power, black as 100% power. Therefore darker values will etch at more intense values/depth

Vector Cutting

The laser cutter relies on a specific stroke thickness to register this as a vector cut.

A stroke set at a greater thickness will neither vector cut nor etch.

Stroke Widths

Adobe Illustrator – 0.001pt, mm or inches

Affinity Designer – 0.001pt, mm or inches

Corel Draw – Hairline

This file will be read entirely as a vector cutting job

Stroke Types

To reduce chance of error, ensure all stroke types are set to Align Stroke To Center. In Illustrator, this can be found in the stroke settings.

Changing stroke width and alignment > Working with Basic Shapes in Adobe  Illustrator CC (2014 release) | Adobe Press

Combined

All of the above tips apply to a combined usage of the Laser Cutter.

The only difference is to place any etching onto a separate layer to your cutting.


Tips for Text

Text is one of the most common error causing components of a file type. Custom downloaded fonts and licensing issues are the main reason for this.

To avoid issues and complications with your file, we recommend you outline all fonts regardless of if you’re etching or cutting. See below for examples of doing this in Adobe Illustrator:

Text that is still editable
Create outlines (right click + select or cmd + shift + O)
Text that is ready for etching
Text that is ready for cutting out. (N.b. 0.001 stroke)

Further Reading

Updated on October 12, 2022

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