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A laser cutter can basically do three things with text:

  1. Raster it
  2. Vector cut the outline
  3. Vector engrave the stroke

This instructable is about #3, engraving the characters with a single line. Why would you want to do this?

  1. Marking parts with a part number, etc. Faster than rastering.
  2. Labelling controls or connectors on a panel.

Why is this even a big deal? It should be easy. Unfortunately it's not. While CAD packages represent fonts as vector strokes, they don't make it easy to explode those strokes into lines. There is a complex workaround for one CAD package involving WMF files.

The process will be:

  1. Create drawing in CAD
  2. Replace text labels with exploded text from an online tool
  3. Export to Corel Draw / laser cutter

Begin with a CAD drawing of the panel. Include placeholder text for the engraved labels. The height of the placeholder text should be correct, however the width, font and style don't really matter as it will be replaced.

Step 1: Verify Placeholder Text

Text in CAD has an insertion point - one of nine choices: (top/mid/bottom) X (left/center/right).

Make sure your placeholder text is accurately placed with an appropriate insertion point. In this example the insertion point is "TC" (top center) accomplished by measuring down from the QUA (quadrant) of the circular hole. Why? We will use the placeholder's insertion point to locate the real text.

The picture shows a line from the insertion point of the placeholder text.

If you don't need precision, skip this step.

<p>I really wish that I had access to one of these tools.</p>

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