How it works
Top tips for laser cutting
TROUBLESHOOTING
CHECK LIST
LINES  must form a closed contour. Otherwise your part may stuck into the material and needs to be cut out manually.
AVOID overlapping Lines. The cutting software will calculate them as extra cuts and increase the overall price
CHECK the scale is 1:1. You can double check the dimensions are correct when uploading your design
Ensure your FONT and typography is outlined, and include the font with your file so the workshop has it just incase
If you prepared a file with TYPOGRAPHY please keep in mind the inside of the letter will be devoid of material. If you wish to keep it intact ensure your design and typography connects the centre to the outside design
ENSURE you allow sufficient space between multiple parts in one design. When arranging multiple parts, we advise you arrange them at least 1mm from each other. If you are working with metallic materials the distance should be the same as the thickness of the material. AKA 3mm thick = 3mm distance
ORGANISE your files. Ensure your title block, dimensions, tolerances, centre lines, blending lines or hatching are in a separate file to your cutting file.
FORMAT THE SPLINES. If you work with splines please concert them to arcs and lines. The software the laser cutters use has problems interpreting splines and will often lead to misshapen forms
HOW DO WE CALCULATE THE PRICE FOR A LASER CUTTING JOB?
CALCULATING PRICE. Most workshops calculate price on the runtime and preparation tasks. The runtime is calculated by considering factors such as the length of the vector, the size of the picture, the dead time while the laser head changes positions and the thickness and material of the piece. As most workshops calculate a project by time, it is worth considering a workshop that has a faster machine even if the cost per minute is higher.
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Top tips for laser cutting
WHAT IS LASER CUTTING?
Laser cutting is a type of thermal separation process. The laser beam hits the surface of the material and heats it so strongly that it melts or complete- ly vaporizes. Once the laser beam has completely penetrated the material at one point, the actual cutting process begins. The laser system follows the selected geometry and separates the material in the process.

Laser cutting is like any other CNC controlled process but instead of tools it uses a laser beam. There are different kind of laser cutters, the most com- monly used are the CO2 laser which is used for cutting non metallic materials and the fiber laser for cutting metals.

Laser cutting has many advantages. First and foremost the cutting precision is highly accurate because the kerf is barely larger than the laser beam (0.1mm 0.2mm) This allows the machine to cut intricate geometries. Laser cutting produces very little waste if the process was prepared well com- pared to CNC milling. No other technology can cut so many different types of organic and inorganic materials.

What you can cut with a laser: Acrylic/PMMA, i.e. Plexiglas, Rubber, Polyamide (PA), thin <1mm Polycarbonate (PC) Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), Polyethylene (PE), Polyester (PES), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polyimide (PI), Polyoxymethylene (POM), Polypropylene (PP), Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), Polystyrene (PS), Polyurethane (PUR), Foam (PVC free), Wood, Paper (white and coloured) Leather, Food, Fabric, Cardboard, Cork, Steel, Stainless Steel, Brass, Copper

What you can’t cut with a laser: Poly vinyl chloride (PVC), thick >1mm Polycarbonate (PC), Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), Fiberglass, Coated Carbon Fiber

While cutting with a laser, harmful vapours are discharged by the materials so it is imperative to use an exhaust system. Most of the time this exhaust system should also clean the fumes before releasing it into a chimney. Some materials produce more harmful gases than others so these should not be laser cut at all, for example PVC which emits pure chlorine gas that will damage the machine as well as our lungs.
THE PROCESS
Laser cutters most commonly use two types of modes, one is vector based and the other is raster based. Most of the time vectors are used for cutting parts and rasters are for engraving.
In a basic CO2 equipment, the carriage focusing on the workpiece surface moves on a bridge that can move in the Y direction. Thus, the bridge moves back and forth, the carriage on the bridge to the right and left, which allows you to reach any point on the work surface. To allow focusing and working with thick pieces of material the table moves in the Z direction.

One of the most important step in laser cutting is to focus the laser beam. This is achieved with different kind of lenses and moving the workpiece on the Z coordinate. This can be done manually or some machines can do it automatically. The laser beam should always be focused on the surface of the material when you would like to engrave it so it will provide the sharpest finish. For cutting it should also be focused on the surface of the material but sometimes when cutting really thick materials it could be focused in the middle of the workpiece. Without focusing the beam it will provide a rough finish, the beam line will be thicker, and it could even burn the material badly or not cut it through at all.

Setting up the laser cut process is done with different kind of programmes, some are specific for machines and some can be used with plugins like corel draw. This is a bit similar to setting up printing for a laser or inkjet printer. you choose modes, place the designs or pictures on the ‘paper’, resize them, etc. The two most important settings here are the speed (mm/s) and the power output percentage of the laser source. To reach the maximum cutting potential of the laser the speed is set very low and the percentage really high. These two options should always be managed together. These options depends on the performance of our machine as well, it will bear a totally different result when using 80% power on a 25W laser or on a 120W laser.
Most of the programmes can manage different colours for vectors and rasters and also set up different processes and options for different colours. With this a complex workflow can be built up with stages like engrave first and cut later.

Vector mode is when the focus car does not scan the area, but only moves along contours. In this case the line thickness of the engraving cannot be any, - it is determined by the applied lens. Of course, it is possible to change the thickness of the line by defocusing, but this changes the thickness in a small margin. The feature of this mode is that the bridge does not take small steps, but, like the head, moves forward backwards to ensure the desired line is tracked. Here, the speed of work can be limited by the intense movement of the massive bridge. This mode is the same as the plotter's long-used drawing mode, but it does not carry a pen here, but focuses a laser beam on the surface. It only depends on the settings that you engrave (scratch) the material in vector mode or cut it completely.

The other mode is engraving or raster mode. When you want to engrave areas that are connected, you use raster work. In this case, the area to be ma- chined is scanned per line by the machine. The bridge is in the first line of work, and the focus trolley on the bridge accelerates the work speed before reaching the area to be machined, traversing the line, slowing down, stopping - while the bridge moves forward with one line - the focus car starts back- wards, accelerates , going through the line, slowing down... and so on. In this case, the system resembles the operation of an inkjet printer, only the bridge does not move over the paper, but the paper is moved under the bridge in that case.

With raster work, you can draw any complex figure - from the shortest letter to the photo. However, this process features some dead time spent on acceleration / deceleration sections beyond the edges of the work area. Of course, the high acceleration achieved by the servo motor drive shortens these sections, but in the case of a large Y-direction, it must be taken into account when calculating the completion time of a job.
Vector and raster mode can also be mixed together, it is possible to engrave a photo than cut it out and so on.

Simple laser cutting in steps drawing the vectors
taking a picture choosing a material importing the workpiece into the preparatory programme (if you use a new material you should make some test cuts on it rst) adjusting the power and speed positioning the material in the machine positioning the laser head on the material so the design will t focusing the laser head starting the smoke exhauster starting the laser cutting
Effortlessly find the right price
and service for laser cutting
TROUBLESHOOTING CHECKLIST
LINES  must form a closed contour. Otherwise your part may become  stuck into the material and needs to be cut out manually.
AVOID overlapping Lines. The cutting software will calculate them as extra cuts and increase the overall price
CHECK the scale is 1:1. You can double check the dimensions are correct when uploading your design
Ensure your FONT and typography is outlined, and include the font with your file so the workshop has it just incase
If you prepared a file with TYPOGRAPHY please keep in mind the inside of the letter will be devoid of material. If you wish to keep it intact ensure your design and typography connects the centre to the outside design
ENSURE you allow sufficient space between multiple parts in one design. When arranging multiple parts, we advise you arrange them at least 1mm from each other. If you are working with metallic materials the distance should be the same as the thickness of the material. AKA 3mm thick = 3mm distance
ORGANISE your files. Ensure your title block, dimensions, tolerances, centre lines, blending lines or hatching are in a separate file to your cutting file.
FORMAT THE SPLINES. If you work with splines please concert them to arcs and lines. The software the laser cutters use has problems interpreting splines and will often lead to misshapen forms
HOW DO WE CALCULATE THE PRICE FOR A LASER CUTTING JOB?
CALCULATING PRICE. Most workshops calculate price on the runtime and preparation tasks. The runtime is calculated by considering factors such as the length of the vector, the size of the picture, the dead time while the laser head changes positions and the thickness and material of the piece. As most workshops calculate a project by time, it is worth considering a workshop that has a faster machine even if the cost per minute is higher.
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