Designing for laser cutting

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Back to the Laser Cutter page

Back to the Laser Cutter Related pages

NOTE: Needs to be merged with Laser Cutting Resources

Software Guides

Laser Cutter Software

LaserCut Software Guides (deprecated)

Since the change to the new controller we are running RDWorks and Lightburn laser cutting software so Lasercut Guides are no longer particularly useful.

RDWorks Software Guides

The RDWorks original manual suffers from rather poor translation in to English. Rabbit Laser USA have taken the installation manual and done their best to fix the duff English. It can be found on the Rabbit Laser website

RDWorks Manual

There is also a YouTube video about how to use RDWorks

Lightburn Software Guides

2D Art and Design Software

Using Inkscape

Kerf Loss and how to deal with it

When you design for laser cutting you need to account for the width of the laser beam / the width of the cut in the material. The loss of material is referred to as kerf or kerf loss. The amount of material lost can be compensated for in the laser cutting tool process by offsetting the path the laser takes to one side or the other of the artwork or design line / path. However if you are designing a box with interlinking tabs accounting for kerf loss to make sure your parts fit snugly together can get a bit tricky. One solution is to use one of the many web-based box design tools which take all the complexity away for you.

Diagram showing how the width of the laser cut affects the dimensions of parts you design. The material loss is called Kerf Loss.
Diagram showing how the width of the laser cut can be offset to the inside from the centre of the path it would take.
Diagram showing how the width of the laser cut can be offset to the outside from the centre of the path it would take.

One of our members, Mark M, has the following to offer on accounting for kerf loss "In my experience it varies, dependent on the material batch, position on the laser bed, laser power/speed, focus setting, etc. So much that if it's critical, it needs checking on the day with the set up as similar as possible. Otherwise I assume 0.1-0.2mm for all materials."

As a Rule of Thumb assume that the laser cut removes 0.15mm.

A few examples are linked below. Alternatively you may want to make your own design and want to do the kerf compensation for your self. The following pages may help you with this..

RDWorks Kerf Compensation

From the RDWorks manual

Sew Compensation (Kerf Settings): A kerf is the width of the cut made by the laser. By default RDWorks cuts along the center of the path. This will result in outside cuts being smaller, and inside cuts being larger. The kerf settings allow you to correct for this. RDWorks calls the Kerf setting “Sew Compensation”. It is found in the cutting parameter window under the Advance button.

To access the setting double click a layer to get the layer setting and then next to the SEAL parameter click the Advanced button. You will need to enable Sew Compensation by checking the box and then enter the compensation you want to apply.

Screen grab of the RD Works Layer Parameter window showing how to access the setting to apply Kerf or "sew" compensation.

Box Making

Laser Cutting Design and Fabrication Techniques

Minimizing Burning and Laser Associated Damage

Laser Engraving