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Hello, I'm Geordie and I currently work at ADX Portland running the Laser Cutter and Engraver. My job is to take in customer's projects, set them up and run them on the laser. As a result, I've learned a few tricks for how to set up jobs to get the best results, and in this Instructable I'm going to pass them on to you.

The laser I work with is an Epilog Helix and the program we use to run it is Corel Draw. I'm going to try to write in general terms so you can use what ever laser and program you want to.

Note: For several of these tips it is important to understand the difference between Vector files and Bitmap files. Vector files are mathematical formulas defining lines, circles etc. These are created by programs like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, AutoCAD and Corel. Bitmap files are collections of individual pixels. This included digital photos, Adobe Photoshop files, JPGs etc. With the Epilog laser (and I'm assuming other ones) you can only cut with a vector file. You can engrave with either vector or bitmap files. For several of my tricks you need your file to be a vector file for the trick to work.

Step 1: Tip #1: Preparing for cutting or engraving

Before we get to tips for cutting and engraving, lets start with some good ideas for preparing to cut or engrave.

Masking: If your going to engrave on something be aware that the smoke for the the engraving can stain the edges of the engraved surface. If you don't want that cover the surface with masking tape to protect it. The masking tape won't decrease the power of the laser much (bump up the power a bit if you feel it needs it) and the masking tape will protect the material around the engraving from the smoke. After running the engraving just peal the masking tape off. I use this a lot if I'm engraving on leather.

Presets: Your laser should have some suggested settings for cutting or engraving different materials and different thicknesses. You should also be able to load these settings into your computer or laser and save them as presets. Be sure to name them something that makes sense so you can easily find them That way the next time you need to engrave on leather or cut 1/8" thick acrylic, you can just find the preset for that material.

Test cuts: Even when I have a preset for cutting a material I usually try to run a test cut in it before I run the full job. Nothing is worse than taking the material out of the laser and finding that it didn't cut all the way through. I create a small circle or square (about 1/4" or 1/2" wide) and cut out in corner or on some scrap material. Then I can see if I need to increase or decrease the power before I run the final cut.

<p>Hi all I am looking for a family tree template that I can cut out on my lazer cutter, I have only just bought it and this is one of the first things I want to try and do, is there anybody out there can help me.???? </p>
Cool idea, but I don't know of a template.<br>Have fun.
<p>can anybody out there make some wooden beer tokens out of cherry wood?? I cant afford to buy the laser engraver </p>
<p>Check with your local middle school or high school. Lots of us do work for community members and non profits. It's a win win. We get money for our programs and it's a tax write off for you! </p>
<p>I can make them if you provide details </p>
<p>Heya,</p><p>While I own and run a laser cutting and prototyping business, and I would love your business at <a href="http://www.oaklabs.co" rel="nofollow"> www.oaklabs.co</a></p><p>There are plenty of laser owners that are available to do some contract work. One way I would recommend is a site called you3dit.com There you can request design or fabrication assistance and usually get a quick response and solution as providers bid on the job and you can choose who you like.</p>
<p>Dear @MargaretW24.<br>We are based in India and would be glad to hear from you about your requirements at avinoint@gmail.com. Please provide the details/requirements.<br>We are making customized keychains, beer tokens and other items from last 5 years at wholesale price. Thanks.</p>
Have you looked at &quot;Du4Me&quot;? It is a really good source for the totype of request you have made here.http://dun4me.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e461d95d3d31e0f95a8919fdc&amp;id=eb35fcbb41&amp;e=fbf6f286e8
<p>i got a mess. from a Dave Rhoten, is this the same guy ? Thanks</p>
Look for someone in your area how has a laser cutter and is running an engraving service with it. Or see if here is a maker space where you rent time on one. That's what I do.<br><br>Good Luck
<p>I have tried finding someone in the area, no luck... need beer chips bad </p>
<p>hi , there was good instruction, could you tell us about the dangerous parts of this machine? Im a novice worker</p>
<p>Hello you know a lot about engraving and cutting on wood, can you please give me a tip on how to set up a logo for print on two sides? because the logo isn't evenly made, the second side (the way i set it up) won't print properly as the front side. i am stuck with it and i gotta hand this in today. please help me out.</p>
Not sure I understand what you mean by 2 sides. Are you engraving on both sides of the piece of wood?<br>If so, the trick is to make sure the piece of wood gets put in the same place when you flip it over to engrave the other side.
<p>I am 64 years old I bought a Chinese engraving machine realized that sites with ready files engraving and cutting plexiglass. Can you give me a link of those sites. Thanks in advance.</p><p>And my enamel can also yosef2006@013.net</p>
Any tips for multiple insert alignment? Alignment marks so you can reposition item if it doesn't cut all the way through? Or is it never good enough?
Do you find that the epilog helix power changes with the ambient temperature in the room?<br><br>I run several FSL lasers down on Stark &amp; 80th and i find i have yo jack up the power a lot in summer.
I've never noticed a relationship with temperature. Although there have been days when the laser seem a bit weaker. I'll have to pay attention to the weather and temperature and see if I notice anything.<br><br>Thanks for the suggestion.
<p>Great Job Geordie! I am an owner/operator of a laser engraving and cutting business in FL for 11 years now. These are are all great tips for nubies and novices alike. And a brilliant refresher course for old farts like me as well.... Thx and keep up with the instuctables!!!!!</p>
<p>Hey sixshooter,</p><p>I am thinking about starting a laser engraving/cutting/3D printing business in the eastern North Carolina area and was wondering if I could pick your brains about getting started?</p><p>Bruster </p>
Hey bruster999,<br>Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I don't get out here that often. I would be happy to answer your questions. Be patient for my responses. We are pretty busy...
<p>I don't have much experience with the business side of lasers. I worked for a Maker Space and let them handle the business aspect. The basic advice I would give is get the best laser you can and make sure they have good support. If something goes wrong you don't want to be calling China for help. Figure out if you are going to stock materials or require you clients to provide the materials. Set up a good website to answer people's questions, so your not spending all your time on the phone telling people what type of file to send you. Finally figure out if your going to offer design help and how if so how to charge for that. </p><p>Good luck with the business!</p>
These lasers are to week to cut or mark steel. You can engrave anodize aluminum. But steel is too strong. Photos are difficult to engrave but can be done. I don't have any great tips at the moment for photos but I have seen it done.<br><br>Good luck.
<p>Great help, now if I just had a laser of my own.</p><p>And ... finally someone that doesn't use photoshop.</p><p>Corel was once Paint Shop (pro). I love it.</p>
I wish they were cheaper but I think that day is coming. Check out Glow Forge<br>https://glowforge.com<br>They are working to make lasers more common place.
<p>I am in Egypt<br>I hope to have a chance to live in any other country<br>I have an experience for tips in laser and router machines since 1994</p><p>It is really great job<br>If you have any chance to invite me we can make a good job together</p><p>I have 48 years old</p>
Great tips!
<p>Practice makes perfect and that applies to everything. I would hate for a print job to go wrong if I didn't check it before, thus ruining my custom plaque. Thanks for reminding me about this because that would have been very upsetting had I not done a test run first. https://jorlink.com/ourproducts/ourmachines/lasertypes/laserengravingmachines.aspx</p>
I always tell people to get some scrap to test on first.<br>Glad things worked for you.
<p>Practice makes perfect and that applies to everything. I would hate for a print job to go wrong if I didn't check it before, thus ruining my custom plaque. Thanks for reminding me about this because that would have been very upsetting had I not done a test run first. https://jorlink.com/ourproducts/ourmachines/lasertypes/laserengravingmachines.aspx</p>
<p>I got a Perfect Laser PLT 3040 - I have no one that can teach me how to use the machine correctly. I need to know how to go about engraving an object and cut the outline please</p>
<p>I got a Perfect Laser PLT 3040 - I have no one that can teach me how to use the machine correctly. I need to know how to go about engraving an object and cut the outline please</p>
<p>I recently bought a cheap laser engraver to burn images into wood. It didn't come with software, but when I contacted the seller, he provided me with &quot;Lite Fire Laser&quot; which is supposed to work in companion with &quot;Inkscape&quot;. I'm very new to any of this, and I am have issues getting my laser to actually burn anything??? When I go through the steps, I create my image through Inkscape but when Lite Fire Laser tries to read it, It always comes back with the error, &quot;File is Empty&quot;.</p><p>So, My questions to you are, </p><p>1) What am I doing wrong with the current programs I am currently using?</p><p>and 2) Is there a more suitable program That I can use? p.s. There is no manufacturers mark on the laser engraver that I have.</p><p>Thank you for any feedback you may may offer.</p>
<p>I recently purchased a Chinese DIY kit to build the GBRL / BENBOX 500 mW engraver. The vendor didn't give links to drivers or software (I'm using Windows 8.1) and did not offer an answer when I requested if they did or did not supply either drivers or programs to use it with. Any experienced laser engraver person who wants to lend a hand, feel free.I feel like sending it back, but the shipping the engraver to China will eat me up for $$$... </p>
<p>Hi! trying to answer to you here i found me a little short of space, so i decide to make an instructable about it. I am really sorry beacuse i wrote it on spanish but i will try to trasnlate to English.</p><p>http://www.instructables.com/id/Configurando-La-Grabadora-Laser-Benbox-DIY</p>
Muchos gracias, amigo. I was able to read it as my browser does translation fairly well. It's a nice thing to have done, I appreciate it a lot!<br><br>Vaya con Dios!
Thanks so much for your efforts, sir. Muchos gracias! It's very helpful, and Chrome translated it well, so I will be able to use your work to help me with my build. I'll try and post back how it turns out.<br><br>Vaya con Dios!
<p>Hi! you can find the drivers on the BenBox page: </p><p><a href="http://www.benbox.cn/thread-1566-1-1.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.benbox.cn/thread-1566-1-1.html</a></p><p>That is the latest Software available.</p>
Thank you, I just downloaded it! This is one of the things I like about the Instructables community, people are willing to help out a newbie in one field or another.<br><br>Thanks a bunch!
I've never worked with a kit laser before. I would suggest googling the Kit name and manufacturer and see if you can find any forums. Or I would try to find someone with programing experience who knows how to produce that type of code.<br><br>Good Luck.
Good suggestion. I've done part of that, and the seller finally gave me download links to the instructions, and drivers, and operating software after 3 weeks of asking. (I think it was an English/Chinese language problem, they were quite nice when they realized they hadn't sent instructions or software, but it took 3 weeks.)<br><br>The shipping was slow, but the price was much better than all the other vendors, with the slow thing in mind, it may be worth buying from them (GearBest) or someone else, their tech support does not know English very well..
<p>if you lay newsprint on the bed of your laser this will increases the vacuum to the area you are working on. Cut a line in your area you are working on then peel back the paper and continue with your job. Small Roll ends of blank newsprint can be purchased at your local newspaper, the ones I get are 36 inches wide with an inch or so left on the roll and only cost 3 bucks.</p>
Sounds good.<br>Thanks
<p>Hi I have a chinese laser cutter (C6879) and need some help please. I am trying to cut and engrave on 1 job. Eg. A heart shape with text on it. Really not sure how to go about this as i have only learnt the basics. Does it have something to do with layers? Many thanks.</p>
<p>hi, this was really helpfull. I bought a chinese laser cutter and I like it, i don't have any complains so far beside of the max speed for engraving ,wich is 6 meters per minute (I'm from Peru i'm not a big connoisseur of US units) the thing is that when you are doing multiple engravings the laser head waste so much time passing through all the pieces that i rather create a new layer for different engraving sections that are smaller. Maybe you don't have that problem, hope you understand my english. Thanks!</p>
That's a good idea. I use programs like Adobe Illustrator that has multiple layers. You can put different parts of a design on different layers and then select which layers you want to use.<br><br>Have fun.

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Bio: Mad scientist, graphic designer, mechanical drafter, sci-fi geek.
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