Tips for successful laser cutting – CorelDRAW
A growing check-list we use to make sure things are laser ready.
Using CorelDRAW X7, though the principles apply to Inkscape and Illustrator too.
Set your units to mm
Check your design will fit on your sheet
Maximum sheet size = 395mm x 395mm.
Maximum safe size for P2 = 384mm x 384mm
Maximum safe size for P1 = 181mm x 181mm
Otherwise leave 5mm on each edge:
e.g. if using a 300mm x 200mm sheet then design inside a centred 290mm x 190mm area.
This allows for variation in material sizes – e.g. cut sheets often vary by a several mm from the listed dimensions on suppliers sites and wood may have a degree of splintering where it has been saw cut. We *may* be able to get you extremely close to the maximum but contact us first to check how practical that is.
Keep your lines as hairline width (0.01mm) otherwise the laser will attempt to engrave rather than cut them.
Include a labelled 25mm reference square on your design. We won’t cut it but it will ensure that everything has imported correctly into the laser software and that the scale is correct.
Colours mean something
Your design needs to be in RGB (not CYMK which is often a default).
The laser software uses certain colours (RGB palette) to know what to cut, score or engrave. Check the post about that in the technical guides section (coming soon). If for some reason you can’t make that work then detail what you need cutting / engraving so we can convert it. In fact it’s wise to document what’s supposed to happen anyway in case something goes wierd during import / export of your design.
The laser beam has an actual width (~0.15mm) and vaporizes material as it cuts. The centre of the beam follows the lines in your design and therefore you lose a small amount on either side of that centre line. The beam has a slight V shaped profile so the top of the cut is slightly wider than the base. Exactly how much depends on the material you are using (and it’s thickness). Our materials page will shortly carry this information.
If absolute size is important – e.g you’re making something that slots together and needs a tight fit (like a tabbed box ) you need to consider this. This may not matter at all for things like greetings cards / signage / wedding favours.
Check for duplicate lines
If you made items using cut’n’paste / ctrl + d / or have items with touching edges there are likely to be duplicate lines. If there are hidden duplicates the laser will cut each one and affect the final output, plus it increases the time & cost.
Convert everything to curves
Select your object / text > CTRL + Q
Weld overlapping text
Important if you’re cutting whole joined-up words out so that letters don’t cut through each other. See the Working with Fonts page.
Pick the right font, or edit to give desired results
Parts of certain fonts and the enclosed centres of letters can be lost if a font isn’t chosen or edited to prevent this.
Join your curves
Arrange menu > join curves > use the docker on the right.
Simplify your nodes
This can reduce cutting time with little or no impact. Important if you have text or have converted bitmaps with a trace tool. The same applies for imported dxf / svg files.
F10 > select your object or text > select all nodes (three little squares) > click Reduce Nodes button or use the slider.
Test your design
Use flood or smart fill to check what is and isn’t connected. Things may drop out or not engrave if your lines do / don’t connect.
Test your design again
Print it full size on paper or card and check it against your expectations.