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Videos / Getting Started Guide for Laser Cutting

Welcome to the exciting world of laser cutting! For all those makers out there looking to start creating with a laser cutter, this tutorial will have the basic information you need to get started! We recently added a Laser Cutting Service to our site, so everyone can start making with a laser cutter!

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Hi, Steven here from Core Electronics, today we're going to talk about Laser Cutting. Laser Cutting is a process of using a very high-powered Laser to cut or engrave materials by moving it over a flatbed. Things that you can easily Laser Cut are, wood, cardboard, acrylic, paper and you can engrave into glass and metal, there's a vast range of things that you can do and create with a Laser cutter. Something to be conscious of is the types of fumes that the material gives off because it does cut it by burning it.

So, here's an example of some acrylic pieces that we've Laser-cut with the core electronics logo and a piece that we've engraved, and we'll go a little bit into how to prepare a file for Laser Cutting. Laser Cutting is becoming more and more accessible for makers today, it's still something that's a little out of the price range to have it in your own home but it's completely accessible for groups like maker spaces or tool share programs, so more and more people are having access to Laser Cutters and being able to create with this tool and we recently started offering a service on Core Electronics for Laser Cutting, so you can submit to us your SVG files will Laser cut them or engrave them and send them anywhere in Australia. So, let's look at the type of files that we use to create a Laser Cutter tool path.

So, the first thing you need to use is a vector file and how do you tell that a vector file is a vector file, well it's all in how it looks really from the surface but an SVG file a DXF and sometimes a PDF, these are all vector files and the easiest way to tell is by zooming in on a surface. So I have GIMP open here which is a free photo editing software and if I was to draw a black circle and the edges look really smooth but as we zoom in on it they get pixelated, so we can tell that this is not a vector file it's a graphic image like a like a JPEG and as we get closer the edges get pixelated, now if we go into a vector editing software like Inkscape, then we create a circle similarly in Inkscape and this one's a vector circle we can tell right away that were you able to reshape this circle after it's been placed on our drawing board and as we zoom in on the edge is days completely smooth.

So, a vector file is different from a typical JPEG or graphic image because all the lines are calculated mathematically, so when you create something it assigns points and vectors and in-curves from those vectors and that allows it to be completely scalable. So, a vector image as you look at it can be scaled up infinitely and keep its perfectly smooth edges and keep its same shape without losing any detail.

So, when we're creating a vector file for Laser Cutting, there are a few little rules we want to keep in mind. So, I have a Core Electronics logo here just like the ones that we've Laser-cut already and there are a few diverse types of cuts that a Laser Cutter can do;

The first type is a cut so when we create a file for a cut with a Laser Cutter, it's different for some software’s but for ours, we use Trotec job control and the default colour is red. So we assign the different types of cuts that we want our Laser Cutter to do with colours of our strokes, so here I have everything in red so everything on this logo will be cut out, at which we end up with this logo right here, is this the same results from this file everything red everything will be cut out and one of the most striking things about Laser Cutters is that if they follow the tool paths perfectly, so you get incredibly precise cuts from your final product.

So, the next type of cut that we could do with a Laser cutter is a vector etch. So if we were to do a vector etch, we just change our stroke colour to blue and that signifies a vector etch, something I haven't mentioned yet but it is very important is that our stroke width needs be 0.01 millimetres wide and that's the actual width that the Laser cuts away as it does its cuts, any wider and the software may not recognize it as a vector and any thinner and the software may not see it, so 0.01 millimetres is the width we want I currently have it set to 0.1 on the screen, just so we can see it in the video but if we were to print it right now we needed to be 0.01. So, this is a blue for vector etch and a vector etches, the tool head of the Laser follows the vector lines around the piece but only lightly burns into it, so rather than Cutting all the way through the power is much reduced so it just scores the top. So, I have an example of that here and it's going to be a little hard to see in the video, so I'll try to catch the light, but you can see it light edging of the Core Electronics logo right along where the cuts were on the last piece.

The last thing we can do with the Laser Cutters is an edge, which is a raster edge. So, for a raster we would fill in everything black, so whatever comes up black the job control software will interpret as an engraving and you can also do different shades to engrave different depths, but on its simplest level, anything that's a shade of black or grey gets engraved. So, if we were to paint bucket in all our letters here to be black, then we'd end up with something a lot like this. So, we have the Core Electronics logo, it's a bit taken away about a mil of material engraved down into this black acrylic, wherever the black is on the logo and of course we can do some combination of all three.

So here we have some engraving, some cuts and some etches, and you can see the Electronics here easier because rather than take all the paper off that usually protects the acrylic, I removed all the other paper and the etch just cut through perfectly from the paper only, so the paper was an able to stay on.

So those are the different ways that we can we can create at the simplest level with Laser Cutting and you can use those tools to make incredibly complex things, you're not limited to just simple logos and keychains, but those are the tools available to create with a Laser cutter.

So, stick around for more we've got more tutorials coming up on Laser Cutting, we'll go over how to convert a graphic image to a vector image, so you can cut it on a Laser cutter and we'll get into building 3D objects with a Laser cutter. So, stick around.

SKU: SERVICE-LASER-420 https://core-electronics.com.au/service-laser-cutting-420x300mm.html
CAT: https://core-electronics.com.au/laser-cutting-learn-how-to-and-get-tips-from-makers.html