Preparing a Laser File in AutoCAD
1. Open a new tab to open the Laser Cutter template in AutoCAD.
a. If the template fails to open, you can locate the file on the Z drive under Z:/APP SUPPORT/ACAD/laser template.dwg
2. If an error about missing dependencies appears, click ignore.
3. You should see a File with several 18”x24” rectangles.
4. Immediately save the template as a new file so you don’t overwrite the original.
a. File > Save As
b. Choose a file name that is relevant to your project in your own Z drive folder.
5. If you already have a dwg file drawn in AutoCAD, copy and paste everything in your original file to the copy of the template you made in Step 4.
6. If you do not already have a drawing, you can simply draw your part in one of the rectangles. Each rectangle represents the the laser bed. The default printing window is the top leftmost rectangle.
NOTE: Make sure that your ENTIRE drawing fits within the rectangle. If you need to cut your job in multiple parts, you can use the other rectangles in the template and post separately.
7. The laser cutter will remove a very thin amount of material, so individual parts can be place very close to one another (about 1/16th of an inch) without causing problems. Straight edges may be laid over one another so that an edge is created in with one cut. This is preferred as it will reduce the amount of waste material. If edges are laid over one another, use the OVERKILL command to keep the laser from passing over that area multiple times.
8. Select the proper layer type for EACH line in your drawing using the “Layer” dropdown menu.
- The dropdown menu is in the Home tab, in the Layers section
- Though lines in the “0” layer will be cut, it is the same color as they “LAYOUT” layer, which can also be used, so it is best practice not to use the “0” layer.
- To engrave (raster), set those lines as “RASTER”, the red option.
- To score, set those lines as “SCORE SHALLOW”, the green option, or “SCORE DEEP”, the blue option.
- To cut through, set those lines as “CUT_FIRST”, the yellow option, or “CUT_FIRST”, the magenta option. NOTE: If your part includes interior geometries, such an annulus (a 2D donut shape), to maintain accuracy in placement you must set the interior areas to be on the “CUT_FIRST” (yellow) layer, and set the outer hole as the “CUT_LAST” (magenta) layer.
- If you have any duplicate lines, points, or unnecessary segments, be sure to delete them, or move them to the “LAYOUT” layer. This layer will be ignored by the laser cutter.
9. Be sure to save your file when done!