Laser Cutter/Design Software
Software to prepare designs to laser
Inkscape can be used to convert various vector file types (SVG, PDF, etc) into DXF, with the Inkscape DXF export plugin listed below.
Quick tutorial on exporting files from inkscape as dxf:
- start inkscape, open some vector file
- ctrl+a, ctrl-shift-G a bunch of times (break objects out of groups),
- ctrl+a, then ctrl-shift-C (convert objects to paths)
- Delete any shapes you don't want, tweak things if needed. Go to Object->Fill and Stroke. Click 'X' under the Fill tab. Click 'solid color' under the stroke paint tab. Change width to something small (1 mm for example) in the stroke style tab. This will give a more accurate idea of the laser output (the laser can't cut thick lines)
- file->save as->Desktop Cutting Plotter (*.dxf)
If it doesn't import correctly into LaserCut, try this:
- select all the shapes in InkScape that you want (don't use ctrl+a)
- cut them (ctrl-x)
- new document (ctrl-n)
- paste (ctrl-v)
- save it out again
Dunno why, but that solved a problem for me once.
note: linux didn't import .pdf files from box-maker. There is a command line program you can use called pdf2svg that worked for me. (ubuntu: sudo apt-get install pdf2svg)
If you are on a Mac with Lion or Mountain Lion, you may encounter a dialog in Inkscape when trying to export as DXF, saying there isn't a problem but you should install something (lxml). This actually is a problem, but installing lxml doesn't solve it. Instead, add one line to a file in your Inkscape install as described in this link: http://www.inkscapeforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=12478#p46872. This should allow you to export DXF files successfully. In case that link goes away, I'm copying it here.
Can export DXF files with a plugin (see below)
Good for converting bitmaps. Use curves or levels to make the image super light, then convert to an indexed 1-bit palette (black & white), then save as BMP
In Photoshop, the Gold Method Script works very well for preparing photos for engraving. After applying the script to your liking, to save the file for the laser software, make sure your Image > Mode is set to Bitmap, then Save As type BMP, setting depth as 1-bit.
Draftsight is a free (for non-commercial use) clone of AutoCAD by Dassault Systèmes. For those who have used AutoCAD in the past, this may be a good option. It run on Windows, Mac, and popular Linuxes.
- I have had success exporting as R14 DXF.
- Layer assignment (for multiple cutting paths and vector/raster cuts) can be assigned later in the LaserCut software.
- Text that is filled in (proportional?) will come into LaserCut as an outline, but can be assigned to a raster cut.
- The laser works in mm. You can set the block units using the "units" command to mm.
Laser Software Links
- Adobe Illustrator - Vector graphics software
- Sketchup for Laser Cutting
- QCad - open source .dxf exporting 2D CAD program
- Sketchup plugin to export SVG files
- Sketchup plugin to export dxf
- Slicer - Sketchup plugin to slice a 3d model along a single axis (direct download)
- SliceModeler - Sketchup plugin to slice a 3d model along 2 axes, to produce a "sliceform" reconstruction (direct download)
- Inkscape - vector editing tool
- Hershey Text plugin for Inkscape - Lets you write text that looks good as vector output on a laser cutter. Use 1-stroke fonts for faster etching.
- Gold Method -- photoshop script for dithering photos for nice engraving output
- DXF Gear Generator -- python script for generating gears which outputs .dxf files directly. see also Notes on gear generator