Introduction: Converting SolidWorks to LaserCutting

Picture of Converting SolidWorks to LaserCutting

Since SolidWorks can’t save a file in a format that a laser cutter understands, we need a bit of software in between SolidWorks and the laser cutter to do that file manipulation for us. One piece of software that does that easily is AutoCAD. AutoCad is a great, free program that will allow you to edit this drawing, as well as export to a file type that the laser cutter can read. You can also use CorelDraw, which requires a license. This tutorial takes you through step by step how to go from a SolidWorks part that you would like to laser cut to a compatible drawing that can be used on a Universal VLS4.60 laser cutter.

Things you will need:

  • SolidWorks (I used the 2015 version for this tutorial)
  • AutoCad (which can be downloaded for free on the website if you register as a student) OR CorelDraw (not free)
  • Ability to read directions

Step 1: Make a Part From Solid Works

Picture of Make a Part From Solid Works

Have the part that you would like to cut from on SolidWorks.

Step 2: Make a Drawing

Picture of Make a Drawing

Make a drawing of the part showing the face of what you would like to cut.

Step 3: Sheet Size

Picture of Sheet Size

When prompted with Sheet Format/Size, unclick the “Display sheet format” box. This is because we only want a drawing of what we want to cut sent to the laser printer, thus making all of the other thing on the drawing (such as title) unnecessary. Set the sheet size to 18” H X 24” W, because that is the bed size of the laser cutter. This way, you will know if your piece will fit or not on the bed.

Step 4: Drawing Face

Picture of Drawing Face

Make sure your drawing is only of the face that you would like to cut. Place the face of the object from the right hand panel to the place you would like the material to be cut from on the drawing.

Step 5: Edit Drawing Scale

Picture of Edit Drawing Scale

Once you have done that, make sure to click on each drawing on the page, and select the scale to be 1:1, with the “Hidden lines removes” display style. Note, if your part seems to be bigger than the sheet, you aren’t reading these directions carefully enough. Refer to step 3.

Step 6: Remove Unnecessary Lines

Picture of Remove Unnecessary Lines

Make sure to remove any center lines, or other lines on the paper that you do not want to be cut. In this example, since we are only cutting out the outline of a wheel, a lot of these lines are unnecessary. Most of you will usually be cutting out a shape so keep that in mind when making these drawings. This will make more sense in Step 9.

Step 7: Saving to DWG

Once you are satisfied with the picture, click File, Save As, In the dropdown for file type click on DWG. Then a little “Options” button should appear above the file name. Make sure these options are active.

  • Scale 1:1
  • End Point Merging
  • Export All Splines as Polylines
  • Export All To One File

click Save

Step 8: AutoCad Spheel

Picture of AutoCad Spheel

** Note if you have CorelDraw, skip to step 11.

Open the newly saved DWG drawing in AutoCad.

The laser cutter will either cut through the material or engrave the surface of it, depending on the line colors. In order to tell the laser cutter to use vector cutting (cutting while following a vector), the lines need to be RED (R255, G0, B0), with a thickness of 0.05mm. For vector engraving or scoring lines (good for outlining simple pictures and text), the color needs to be BLUE (R0, G0, B225) with the same size. Raster engraving, which is when the laser moves back and forth in a parallel fashion, is good for complicated pictures and filling things in. This is BLACK (R0, G0, B0) at any varying size, depending on what you would like to engrave. Depending on how “black” this is, that is how deep the laser will engrave. For an engraved picture to show up well, I would recommend increasing the contrast of the picture.

Step 9: Edit Your Drawing

Picture of Edit Your Drawing

To set up for vector cutting, click on the line that you wish to be the cut line and change the color to RED (make sure it’s the correct red), and set the line thickness to 0.05mm.

Step 10: More Editing

Follow the above steps for any lines you want to be engraved.

Step 11: CorelDraw Spheel

Picture of CorelDraw Spheel

Much like AutoCad, corelDraw works very similarly, if not more conveniently. The laser cutter will either cut through the material or engrave the surface of it, depending on the line colors. In order to tell the laser cutter to use vector cutting (cutting while following a vector), the lines need to be RED (R255, G0, B0), with a "thickness" of hairline. For vector engraving or scoring lines (good for outlining simple pictures and text), the color needs to be BLUE (R0, G0, B225) with the same size. Raster engraving, which is when the laser moves back and forth in a parallel fashion, is good for complicated pictures and filling things in. This is BLACK (R0, G0, B0) at any varying size, depending on what you would like to engrave. Depending on how “black” this is, that is how deep the laser will engrave. For an engraved picture to show up well, I would recommend increasing the contrast of the picture.

Step 12: Opening the File

Picture of Opening the File

Open the newly saved DWG file. Choose a scale of 1:1. Make sure you choose either English, or Metric depending on how you scaled your drawing. If okay if you aren't sure, you will know that you choose the wrong one if your drawing scale is completely wrong.

Step 13: Editing Drawings in CorelDraw

Picture of Editing Drawings in CorelDraw

Make sure you select the line/lines you would like to vector cut, and for line width, set it to hairline. In order to change the color, click and drag the color from the side panel to the line that you want in that specific color.

Repeat these steps for engraving. From here, you can select file, and then print and your image will be sent to the laser printer.

Comments

watchmeflyy (author)2016-02-11

Helpful tips; thanks for sharing!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-02-10

Great tutorial! One more reason why I need a laser cutter.

in SolidWorks just click save and change to dxf. It will open an export window, click next. a preview is generated and click save. job done.

Lardo (author)2016-02-11

Hey, if you already own a seat of Solidworks, than this is a useful work-around for getting your SWX drawing into a format for laser cutting. However, if you DON"T have Solidworks, and are looking for 3D modeling software, permit me to suggest KeyCreator, by Kubotek USA. (www.kubotek3d.com) Not only is it a full featured 3D solid modeler, but it also has full 2D drafting capabilities. With the ability to export both dwg & dxf file formats. Perfect for creating line drawings for laser cutting.

KeyCreator has the best of both worlds. full 3D solid modeling (including surfaces) and 2D drafting. All in one easy to use package.

About This Instructable

15,637views

111favorites

License:

More by cindyyw:Converting SolidWorks to LaserCutting
Add instructable to: