PDA

View Full Version : laser design software



Bruce Boone
05-09-2011, 1:27 PM
What are people here using for their laser design software? I am used to doing my design in Mechanical Desktop (AutoCAD) and simply outputting vectors and bitmaps to my CO2 laser like a plotter. My new laser will only accept SVG (scaleable vector graphics) format or a bitmap type input like .jpg, .tiff, or others. I have Corel and Adobe Illustrator, both of which can output vectors in SVG, and they can also import a DWG straight from AutoCAD. With graphics programs like Corel, I don't feel that I get the same degree of control as CAD when drawing something that has to be precise. Maybe it's a lack of design time on those. I know it's far better for things such as fancy text and a few other things. I don't think an SVG file imported from CAD can retain hatch or fill information, although I'm still not clear on that. I believe it can do filled stuff if drawn in Corel or Illustrator. I know that bitmaps aren't normally as clean as vector stuff, and if someone wants a certain picture such as a Masonic symbol on the ring, I assume it's best to manually trace over a bitmap in CAD or Corel and output the vector. I haven't had much luck with the Trace command being clean enough for that type of thing.

The other thing I'm concerned with is plotting exactly and only exactly the perfect dimensions to wrap around a ring with no overlap or centering issues. With the plot function I use now, I simply can do a plot window, and that's the only thing plotted. With the graphics softwares, it seems that it gets centered in a page, and you might need to line things up in the laser by eyeball. Ideally, I'd like part of my ring fixture to always be at a certain location, so I never have to eyeball anything. Maybe drawing a non filled rectangle of the dimensions I need will be an answer.

I'm having a crew in next week to set up the laser and teach me stuff, but I'd like to get a head start on the best practices by the people that do this type of stuff every day.

Thanks to all.

Josh Richard
05-09-2011, 2:23 PM
We are having a lot of success with Illustrator (CS4) and SolidWorks.
With SolidWorks, we can make a part, send it to a drawing file and very quickly cut. We can put notes on and raster text, but other than that, we haven't mastered doing both vector and raster with SolidWorks.
The 9th graders are using Microsoft Publisher for both vector and raster

Chuck Stone
05-09-2011, 3:16 PM
The other thing I'm concerned with is plotting exactly and only exactly the perfect dimensions to wrap around a ring with no overlap or centering issues. With the plot function I use now, I simply can do a plot window, and that's the only thing plotted. With the graphics softwares, it seems that it gets centered in a page, and you might need to line things up in the laser by eyeball. Ideally, I'd like part of my ring fixture to always be at a certain location, so I never have to eyeball anything. Maybe drawing a non filled rectangle of the dimensions I need will be an answer.

I do the 'eyeballing' in the software. The rotary fixture goes in the same place,
and I work from a 2D file. The biggest problem is, as you say, making sure that the
file exactly matches at the seam. I do that by using grid lines and snapping to it.
I copy the file and paste it over the original file, just above it and snapped to it.
So I'm looking at the bottom of one file lining up to the top of another version of
the same file. Similarly, I'll check the bottom.
As long as my file size is pi x the file height, any pattern will seem to continue
seamlessly around the object. For instance, I have a pen barrel that is 2.2"
long and .55 in diameter. My file size is 2.2 x 1.728" (1.727 could leave a seam)
This is just what works on my laser. Some lasers can run a file more than 360

Real Mercier
05-09-2011, 8:25 PM
Being an engineer I find CAD easier to make pecision drawings with. I have an older version of Cadkey I use to draw parts with. I then export them to DXF. I could cut direct from Cadkey, but none of the objects are connected (lines, arcs, etc...) or in order,so the laser may jump around stopping and starting for each object. So I import into Corel then "combine" objects and "join' nodes for a continuous cut.

So far, Corel has imported my DXF files with no loss of accuracy. It keeps the same dimensions I gave it Cadkey. If you get proficient with Corel, the node editing isn't too bad and the process fairly easy.

Real Mercier

Bruce Boone
05-09-2011, 9:26 PM
I agree. I certainly prefer to do designs that would require precision in CAD like Celtic knots and similar stuff. Artsy types of stuff look to be the forte of Corel where exact placement isn't as critical. I did call the laser people today and found that it is possible to do both raster and vector artwork by loading two separate files to the laser and having it execute both. As long as the stuff was first setup in something accurate like a CAD generated rectangle, they should perfectly overlap. As I mentioned, I will try to have one plane of the rotary axis as the zero point of all the files so that once it is set up, I never have to eyeball it.

I found out that there is a diameter input in the software, and as long as the diameter times pi is equal to the length of the rectangle, it will use that as the rotational distance and scale it to be exactly 360 degrees just as Chuck said. That is similar to my CO2 laser in that respect. It also has a height dimension to input, which is a distance from the floor to the top of the part. This is used for focus. I should be able to use a caliper to get an accurate measurement and get a very tight focus.

The laser came with a 100mm lens, which means my 80 watt beam kerf will be 20 micrometers!!! That is a huge amount of power in a small spot. The tradeoff is that the useable flat plane area is only 65 x 65mm.

Rodne Gold
05-10-2011, 5:01 AM
If you have mastered ACAD, Corel is a doddle. It's just a TEENY bit more of a schlep to design to exactitude , but most of what you can do in ACAD can be done in Corel and in fact sometimes you can do more in Corel. Rather than importing and exporting which can give sonmetimes odd or variable results , just do it in Corel

Michael Kowalczyk
05-10-2011, 2:50 PM
You can also turn your Corel Draw into a cad tool by going to http://macromonster.com/ and getting the macro or macros you need to accomplish what you want. just click on"Corel Draw" on the left and there will be a plethora of macros to do just about anything you should need. Go through all of them first and then narrow it down so you don't duplicate functions too much.

There are also many free ones that you can download that are useful. make sure you check if it is compatible with your version of CD. I have about 6 or 7 of them and use several frequently. They save me a lot of time.