Introduction: Exact Scale Images for Laser Engraving
One of the objects that has always been on top of my wish list was a Laser Cutter/Engraver.
I get mine from GearBest. Here. It has an engraving area of A5 format and it can be supplied with a different range of laser power, starting from 300mW to 5500mW. Mine is a 2000mW (2W)
It is a great tool and a well built machine, that is immediately capable of producing satisfactory results, but one of the main trouble about using it, is related to correct scaling the image and centering the object to be engraved in the operating area.
In a previous instructable I'll show how to make and use a customized grid plane to help you positioning the object and scale images to be engraved on it. In this one I'll show you how to produce an image already scaled to the correct size and ready to be engraved only positioning the objet with the upper left corner in the home position of the laser engraver.
Software I installed on the engraver is the suggested Benbox, while to obtain a correctly scaled drawing I'll use Inkscape.
Step 1: Setting Object's Dimensions
First you have to measure the exact overall dimensions of the object to be engraved, then you have to set the inkscape document properties to reproduce the the object’s size.
To do this select from Menus - File > Document Properties, or press (shif+ctrl+D) ... the Document Properties window appears.
On the Page Tab in the custom size box, select the Down Arrow and choose as units : mm (or whatelse you prefer) and fill in Width and Height the dimension that you have measured. (in the example 61 mm)
Another important things about exporting images for Benbox is related to the color and transparency of the background that is must set to white, with no transparencies. This because Benbox sometimes have trouble with transparent png showing the area in black.
When done, close the Document Properties window and the page dimensions will change following the exact dimensions and proportions of the object that you filled in the dialog box.
Step 2: Importing Images
Once the area of the object is available, you can draw something using the drawing capability of inkscape, or import a readymade graphic (vector or bitmap).
Obviously is preferred to use a B&W or grey shading image.
To import the graphics file of your choice from Menus - File > Import, (or press ctrl+I) … open an explorer window where you can choose the graphics file format.
If you choose a raster image you will be asked to embed the image or link to the file. Is your choice, ebbedding results a bigger svg file size.
Once you have made your choice, the raster image appear in the workspace selected with handles. You have to resize and center it in the page (you can use the centering tools of inkscape to help you in this operation).
When the graphics is centered correctly save the image and, from the file menu, choose export bitmap (or use the shortcut ..shift+ctrl+E). In the pop up window you have to select the "PAGE" button, choose the file name and click on the "Export" button
Inkscape export only png file format. Benbox sometimes have problem with transparencies of png files so, after, it could be better convert the exported into a jpg file, but if you choose the white background you do not need to.
Step 3: Engraving
Once exported the graphics, the only thing you have to do is open the generated file with the open file from Benbox menu and you obtain the exact scaled drawing anchored to the left corner of the engraving area.
If you have the beam aligned to referenced home position place in position the object to be engraved and starting the engraver it will fill exactly the area you need
Step 4: Engraving 2
If you are not sure where the home position of the beam is located, and you do not have a reference board, you can adopt the following simple trick to obtain a perfect alignment of the object :
put on the board a thin piece of cardboard or paper (better of a dark color, if you do not want to adjust the focus) and increase the engraving speed enough to a value that leave only a sign on the surface.
Make the laser to engrave boundaries of the object using the dedicated button on the menu. The laser will engrave the whole boundary of the graphics file, so you have a reference of the exact position of your object.
Put your object in the area marked and make the laser run.
In attachment I made available files I used for this Instructables
Question 2 years ago on Step 4
hi i have a 3018 pro laser ,im having problems printing ,the size on the screen comes out 1/10 of the size eg. if the picture on screen is 50x50 the laser will print 5x5 any ideas
Question 3 years ago
how do this colour on the shies material?
Question 3 years ago on Step 4
Hi I desperately need your help. So This the 7W upgraded version. The seller gave EleksCam and after watching your videos I tried it out. So i managed to cut and engrave. But the problem is the scale. It accepts only inkscape svg. And always the size is wrong.
The svg you seem to have given does not so show up too. I usually get the svg in inkscape by tracing the bitmap and deleting the original and thn saving as inkscape svg. That loads up to the EleksCam but size is all wrong. Please PLEASE help me as I'm going crazy trying to figure it out. Thanks loads.
3 years ago on Step 4
What resolution should images be saved with? I used Illustrator and exported as a jpeg with 300 ppi and it imported bigger into Benbox.
Question 4 years ago
I have a 50 watt laser, i want to cut mobile protective glass, but i can not get the exact dimensions of the phone how can i do it, do u have any suggestions.
4 years ago on Introduction
great instructions, very detailed!
6 years ago
Nice Instructable. Are you driving the Laser with pwm?
Reply 6 years ago
at the moment no, probably I'd like to try in the future
Reply 6 years ago
benbox doesn't support pwm. As long as your controller board can support it (grbl 0.9) with a selector under the nano, you can use T2 Laser developed by Zax.
Reply 6 years ago
Great instructable, thanks :)
T2 Laser ... not a realy freeware.
Have an auto off, can't get more than 1 000 rows of Gcode, Can't save your current work...
Or, you can pay!
Without any garanty about the lifetime of the product....
Reply 6 years ago
Totally understandable. I am on a forum with the creator and he is very active. Always updating and probably the best software support I have experienced.....ever.
It's $40 for the first license and half off for the second. That means if your computer takes a crap and you need another license, you get some discount. Personally, I have had a lot better luck with T2 Laser over Benbox. My engravings are clearer, it takes less time (speeds up during white space) and I have a LOT more options.
I do not have a TTL driver for my laser, but between the dithered mode and velocity mode, I can do a pretty good greyscale-like image.
I like freeware, trust me, most of my computer is filled with it. But T2L offered enough benefits to be worth it.
Reply 6 years ago
sorry. Great instructable!!!!!!!!!!