View Full Version : Another engraving noob :o)

Jani Pedersen
03-30-2009, 5:46 AM
Hi all,

I waited until I was able to alter my signature ( a wise suggestion I saw Frank write on another new persons thread ) before I introduced myself.

I have just bought a second user Epilog 24TT which is in wonderful condition and is sitting patiently waiting to be used ! I've read the manual about four times now and still find most of it going in one ear and out of the other ! :p

I attempted my first erm - something - last night, I was trying to create a template jig to lie pens on and bought in some 4mm mdf to engrave ( I presume that is what is required to create this ? I don't want to have a full vector cut out ) ~ I got the machine working (yay) and established that auto focus was switched off in the directory so altered that so that the table rose up automatically ( I impressed myself ) but I did find that the engraving wasn't 'happening' where I expected it to.

I'd created the jpg ( no corel on my laptop yet ) on a page size equal to the bed size of the laser and so expected it to start top left. What I actually had were the end sections of one column and then the full outline of the next ( basically columns of 5" x 0.5" rectangles ).

I then stopped and reset the laser - resent the job but this time altered the xy axis so that it would start top left of the wood - but it shot down lower and started at a totally different place ! I am wondering now if I pressed run rather than run/over-ride ~ would that make the difference ?

I can't find a section in the manual that tells you how to move / start the engraving at a specific point though I am positive I have read it somewhere ~ possibly on here.

Stephen Jater from Identify is being an absolute diamond with his help and advice ( especially as I didn't buy this from him ! ) but I don't want to take advantage of his kindness and so would be grateful for any advice, pointers or education that any of you can offer to me.

I'd like to have a decent basic running knowledge of the laser before I start to work on some of the items I've bought ~ I have wood thins, acrylic and pens coming from Stephen today as well as some bits and bobs I've picked up from local stores to test engrave on.

Many thanks for reading ~ I hope to learn a lot from you all :)

Mike Null
03-30-2009, 6:02 AM

Welcome to SMC. There are two pieces of advice I will offer.

1. Buy CorelDraw today; trying to do precision work with jpeg images will try your patience. You really need the ability to create vector art for a lot of reasons.

2. Turn off auto focus and focus manually. Auto focus is a nice convenience when it works and when you don't forget that you left something on the table that will crash into the lens.

Jani Pedersen
03-30-2009, 6:12 AM
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the advice ! That is obviously why it was disabled in the print directory then !

I have corel draw on my main pc and a number of vector programs such as Omega/composer, winpc and flexisign but only have winpc on my laptop as yet.

I work in an attic area and I'm a little worried about putting the laser up here because of fire risks, so planned to put it in a workshop in the back garden ( also wood, go figure ) and put in a new pc there to work from.

I'm really quite confident with adobe photoshop cs3 because of the dye sub work and had hoped to use that instead of corel draw as I am, to put it mildly, *naff* with that !

I guess I have to get un-naff eh ?

Thanks a bundle for replying :)

Bill Jermyn
03-30-2009, 6:21 AM
Jani, welcome! Check to see in the print dialog in the layout tab that the 'center of page' radio button is NOT selected, and 'as in document' is selected.

Richard Rumancik
03-30-2009, 10:25 AM
. . . I was trying to create a template jig to lie pens on and bought in some 4mm mdf to engrave ( I presume that is what is required to create this ? I don't want to have a full vector cut out ) .. .

Hi Jani, welcome . . .

Why don't you want a vector cutout of the pen shape? If you are trying to engrave a pocket (cavity) in solid material for the pen to rest in, I think that is a difficult way to go and more time consuming to make. Generally what people do is cut an outline of the shape in a piece of acrylic (or whatever) and mount this on a base (could be mdf board or acrylic) with a few screws.

You can create the outline for the fixture from a jpg scan of the part and then tweak it as needed. I usually use a scan as a background layer in CorelDraw and then with calipers and the item, will "trace" and tweak the outline for accuracy. Don't try to follow every contour of the item. You just need enough contact points so that the part is constrained the same way every time. E.g. pick up on both end diameters and on the length. What happens in between won't matter. The pen will always drop in the same way. There are some old posts on this subject.

Even when you get CorelDraw you may still get some minor alignment issues. What I usually do is tape down a piece of clear polyester film over the pen sitting in the pen fixture and do a test plot at high speed/low power. If the text does not align, then I would move the text/holder layer in CorelDraw a few thousandths as needed to correct the position. You want to be 100% satisfied before starting with the real parts.

Also, I am not that inclined to make a huge fixture. I would rather have a single column of parts on the left side and run 6 or 10 or 20 in a group. To me there is a tradeoff between run time, fixture complexity and risk of scrap. If you run thousands of the same part you may be able justify a bigger fixture and the scrap needed to debug it.

If you make a fixture to hold 50 parts, you can make 50 in one setup. On the downside, if anything goes wrong, you may have 50 rejects. Until you gain experience with your laser I would suggest keeping the fixtures simpler.

John Noell
03-30-2009, 3:59 PM
Hi Jani, welcome to SMC where, like lots of noobies, I've received a TON of help. I was pretty good with Photoshop too but CorelDraw seems to be almost an absolute necessity. I did not find it easy to get Illustrator to behave entirely as I had expected/hoped with the laser so I use CorelDraw almost exclusively. After a couple of years practice it isn't as painful any more (at least usually - although certain bugs are really annoying). It is powerful and if you match your CorelDraw page size to the laser bed, you can pretty much count on it cutting and engraving inthe right place.

Jani Pedersen
03-30-2009, 7:25 PM
Hi Bill, Richard and John,

I have discovered the reason behind my image starting in the wrong place. Although the piece size was set correctly via start / control panel / printers & faxes etc - when I clicked to print I was getting a message informing me that the size was wrong, so I checked through properties that way and voila, it was showing half the size. I also had automatic focus off in one section but on when checked via adobe.

Anyhow I have now engraved a few things and I am thrilled ! I obviously still have to work out settings but I am working from the suggestions from Epilog as a starting point.

I didn't think to cut out a template and then screw it to another base ! When I was saying I 'didn't want to vector' it was half a question, as I wasn't sure what I needed to do to get that 'dip'

I bought some foam today to try as a holder but haven't touched it with the laser as I suddenly realised it may be the 'wrong type' of foam and catch fire! It is run of the mill foam from a fabric shop.

I cannot find my copy of coreldraw for the life of me and so will probably have to download a trial version for now. Unless anyone can tell me if it is possible to take it from my main pc and put it onto disc to go onto the laptop ?

I am loving this engraver ! I was like a child at Christmas watching my first piece of work materialise before my eyes. As the saying goes - - *I'm so happy I could pee* ! (almost)

Thankyou all for taking the time to read and reply to me, I appreciate it. :)

David Fairfield
03-30-2009, 7:37 PM
Hi Jani

Haven't heard Naff in a while, you must be English. :D I use Adobe Illustrator for all my lasering. I have Corel, too, but I never use it.

With Adobe you need to be meticulous about your formatting-- make sure the .ai document dimensions match the dimensions you dial into the Epilog dashboard before you hit print.

I think the new driver from Epilog may have resolved the formatting issue with Adobe, but I'm still using the old driver.


Bill Cunningham
03-31-2009, 8:47 PM
Hi Jani! Welcome.. For laser engraving text a .jpg is probably the worst file type you can use.. It's by default either a 24bit colour, or a 8 bit greyscale, and the driver will want to halftone it while engraving, making all text fuzzy.. Try using a 2 bit 'line art' .tif file. This is a pure black and white image with no shade transitions. The laser wants to see 'black' not grey or the RGB rendition of it.. The TT is a good machine. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the newer ones, but it's solid piece of equipment, and once you get Corel installed (the latest version is 'nice' but the machine will work quite well with someones cast off copy of a older version), I'm sure your TT serve you well.. I'm happy with mine..

Jani Pedersen
04-01-2009, 11:39 AM
Hi Jani

Haven't heard Naff in a while, you must be English. :D

Got me first time :D

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your advice, makes absolute sense.

I've found my coreldraw x3 (yay! I thought I was going to have to buy it again!) Now to set about learning it.

I've been really pleased with the raster results I've had so far, both photographic and clipart images have come out well and so ( surprisingly ) did a pen with text only on it. That was anoxide, I also tried a plastic one with really quite poor results.

The pen is a lilac/purple colour and although you can see the engraved area it isn't very clear and would also probably do well to have some rubnbuff or other colour added to it. I have bought a selection of acryllic and glass paints to try out, so will have a go with this to see what happens.

The only issue I have is that it is taking three times the norm for me to do shopping now because I am looking at every item on every shelf to see if I can use it !

I engraved a cork floor tile last night with a tattoo and my daughters name on it, I was amazed at how well it came out.

I've put aside a notepad to stay with the engraver and as I work out settings for each item I've noted them down in that.

What FUN this is ! I wish I'd bought one years ago.

Is there anyone on the south coast of the UK registered here ?

Dee Gallo
04-01-2009, 12:39 PM
Got me first time :D

I've put aside a notepad to stay with the engraver and as I work out settings for each item I've noted them down in that.

Hi Jani, welcome to the best fun and most helpful forum on the web!

I have to say, you got your notepad out faster than I did, and boy it's a lifesaver!

Enjoy your new toy, there's nothing like it!

cheers, dee

Bill Cunningham
04-02-2009, 9:25 PM
Note pads are fine, but create a folder on your HD. I call mine 'Allsettings'. Then when I find something that works, I save the .dat file with a familiar name.. i.e. DarkCorkBurn300dpi.dat or FlatGlassPhotos150dpi.dat That way you have all your settings for a particular job in a filename you recognize, and when you need one just load the needed file into your driver.. Additional notes if needed can go in the notebook..