How to Use The Laser Cutter in Aalto Fablab
The laser cutter in Aalto Fablab is the Epilog Legend 36EXT with a 60W laser. You can download a couple of useful pdfs below:
- Never leave the laser cutter unattended. Your material might catch fire pretty easily and quickly.
- Always make sure that you have turned on the ventilation.
- Always make sure that you have turned on the air assist (compressor on the floor).
- Do not stare directly at the laser while it is cutting.
You send your work to the laser cutter in Aalto Fablab using Corel Draw. See the step-by-step tutorial pdf above for more details.
However, you do not need to use Corel Draw to design your files. You can pretty much use any software that is able to output vector files.
Some popular choices:
- Adobe illustrator (Commercial software)
- Inkscape (Free)
- SketchUp (Free, needs some plugins)
- Affinity Designer (Commercial software, not too pricey)
- Fusion 360 (really powerful, pro CAD/CAM tool, free version available)
- And of course other pro-level CAD-tools like Solidworks or AutoCAD
- + tons of other programs
I personally mainly use Illustrator for designing for the laser cutter. Sometimes Fusion 360. Use whatever you are comfortable with.
There are two basic rules for preparing your files:
- Anything that is an outline will be cut. The width of the line needs to be “hairline” in Corel Draw. Other programs usually don’t support hairline, so use line thickness below 0.1mm. That should be converted to hairline when you open it in Corel Draw.
- Anything that is a fill (or a line thicker than 0.1mm) will be engraved. For now, let’s just use one color (black) for our fills. We can later see how we can use different colors for different power levels.
- PDF – I usually use PDF for exporting from Illustrator. I would recommend always using PDF if you can.
- CDR – The native Corel Draw format, you can also use that, if your software supports it
- EPS, DXF, SVG – Standard file formats for vector files, should all work also, just make sure you double check that you are exporting and importing in the correct scale.
- AI – The native Adobe Illustrator format. Also works, but I would recommend avoiding it. I’ve had lots of issues with invisible paths etc. Use PDF from Illustrator