File Set Up:
We will be adding more tutorials, instructions, and
tips for setting up your laser-cut parts. In the meantime, please
read the following information before sending us a file for a quote:
Accepted file types for laser cutting
We use Adobe Illustrator CS3 to draw and laser-cut
parts. We can also use files from a variety of other programs as
long as you can export or save as one of the vector-format file
types: Your parts or layouts are 11.5" x 23.5" MAXIMUM
- AI (Adobe Illustrator) version CS3 or earlier
- The file can contain any type of curve or line.
- For cutting, all lines should be 0.1pt or smaller - NOTE: Hidden
lines will CUT, so please remove any lines visible or not that
you do not wish to activate the laser with.
Other file types
- We might be able to use other vector drawing file formats not
listed above; you are welcomed to send a different file type via
email (if we cannot open it, we will let you know).
- If in doubt, please send an .AI file - This is our preferred
Laser cutting file set up instructions
If you would like to create a laser cutting file for your parts
using a program such as Adobe Illustrator please set up your files
- LATEX OVERLAYS NOTE: If you are making a simple latex overlay
to be cut out and have backing plastic, please mirror
your artwork Left to Right so that any text or details
are backwards. We will cut from the back side of the latex so
that your overlay is prepped for glueing and application to your
project. The smooth/shiny side of the latex will remain protected
by the plastic masking.
- Cut lines — Draw thin, black lines where you want the
laser to cut; the laser will cut down the center of your lines.
Be sure the cut lines are 0.003 inches wide (0.1pt) or less.
- Our laser will attempt to cut any lines or anchor points on
your artwork. Please be careful to remove any unused, hidden,
or random items in your drawings that are not needed for the cut.
If we have to edit your artwork you will be charged $60/hour -
Minimum 15 minutes for artwork fixing.
- Size reference — Include and label a one-inch square size
reference in your file.
- Standard layout areas are listed below. Be sure to leave at
least 0.05" between adjacent parts in your layout.
- 8.5" tall x 11.0" wide
- 11.5" tall x 11.5" wide
- 11.5" tall x 23.5" wide
The largest layout area is 11.5" x 23.5" - Parts larger
than this will have to be made up of multiple parts (2 overlays
to achive a larger artwork)
- Send only one file — The file should include one copy
of each unique part with indications of how many of each you need,
and the material from which each should be cut. This information
can either be text in the file, or explained in the email.
- Please make sure to leave enough space around every part so
that we can easily select them by dragging a rectangle around
- Lay out your own parts — If you would like to lay out
your own parts, please include the layout in a different area
in your file (away from the single copies of each unique piece)
and label it as your layout. (If you have many small, unique pieces
in your layout, you do not have to separately include a single
copy of each part and state how many of each you need; the layout
by itself will suffice.)
- Line sharing — When setting up a layout that includes
line sharing (two parts right next to each other so that they
share a single cut line), please be sure to delete any redundant
copies of lines. If you have lines stacked on top of each other,
though you might not be able to see them in your file, the laser
cutter will see the paths and end up cutting twice along the same
line, degrading the final part (burned edges) and costing you
extra laser time.
- Multiple files — If you must send more than one file,
please zip them and submit them in a file, and explain the materials
and quantities you would like for each file in the email.
- Saving cutouts — If you need the cutouts that fall out
from your main parts, please specify this in your file or in the
- Sharp corners — If you have any sharp corners, you might
consider rounding them (called "adding a radius" to
a corner, or "adding a fillet") so your parts will be
less likely to crack/rip around the corners. We can certainly
cut your parts with sharp corners if you prefer.
- Adjust for kerf — You may want to adjust for the kerf
(the thickness of the laser beam), which is about 0.01".
(The laser centers itself on the lines you draw and takes off
about 0.005" of material from either side of the lines.)
For example, if you would like the hole in your part to have a
diameter of roughly 1.0", you should draw a hole with a diameter
of 0.99". If you would like a circular part with a diameter
of about 3.0", draw a circle with a 3.01" diameter.
(These numbers are approximate and can vary depending on the material
and its thickness.)
- Small details should be no smaller than double the material
thickness. For example, if you are cutting a spider web pattern
from 0.45mm latex, the thin pieces of latex that make up the web
must be no thinner than 1.0 mm wide in your drawings. Note that
the laser beam thickness will cause the final piece to have webs
that are slightly less than 1.0 mm wide. We can attempt to cut
thinner pieces than this general rule of thumb allows, but the
part will likely be very fragile.
- Text should be converted from a font to line art (often called
"breaking apart text to lines or polylines" or "converting
text to curves"). Otherwise, if we do not have the font you
are using, our programs will substitute your font with a different
- The engraving portion of any part that we are cutting should
be set up as described in the below section about laser engraving
file set up.
- Laser cutting costs are detailed at our laser
cutting pricing page.
Laser engraving file set up instructions
We can do two types of laser engraving (also called laser etching):
vector engraving and raster engraving. Please note the following
when setting up your files for engraving
- Vector engraved lines can be indicated with different RGB colors
(each color indicating a different engraving depth)
- Please group all items of the same color and indicate the approximate
engraving depths that you would like for each color.
- Raster-engraved areas in your file should not have a thin, black
outline around it (otherwise the laser will cut along that outline).
- The depth of the engraving is specified by the gray-scale color
of the pixel (black gets engraved the deepest, gray is engraved
to medium depth, and white is left un-engraved). Please specify
the depth of the black (deepest) portions of your image and color
everything else with the appropriate grays (50% black will get
engraved about half as deep as the black portion).
- Engraving depths — We can vary the laser speed and power
to change the raster engraving and vector engraving depths. If
you just want your engraving to be clearly visible, we recommend
that you allow us to select the appropriate engraving depth (usually
very shallow, just scratching the surface of the latex enough
to leave an attractive, clearly visible engraving).
- If you must have particular depths, please let us know the rough
depth you would like (for example, "vector engrave red lines
to be about 50% deep, blue lines just enough to be clearly visible,
and raster engrave black areas to be about 0.10mm deep).
- We will try our best to achieve the depths you specify by playing
with the laser speed and power, but note we cannot guarantee any
particular accuracy with engraving depths. Raster and vector engraving
are best for making cosmetic markings and are not suitable for
making mechanical grooves and features with precise depths.
- Front or back engraving — We can engrave clear and transparent
plastic from the front or back of the material. When engraving
from the back, we will be sure to set up your file correctly (mirror
image) so that any text and all images look correct when viewed
from the front.
- Text for engraving should be converted from a font to line
- Protective masking — We typically add plastic masking
on latex when engraving/cutting (to protect the plastic from residues
that are created during cutting).
- Files with cutting, raster engraving, and vector engraving —
We can laser cut, vector engrave, and raster engrave a part all
as a single job. All images, lines, text, etc. to be raster engraved
or vector engraved should be a part of the same file as the cutting
file (see the above section about laser cutting file set up for
details). You do not need to split the cutting and engraving among
- Laser engraving costs are listed at our laser
cutting pricing page.
- Open Office Draw: This free vector-graphics drawing software
is part of a free office suite, Open Office. You will have to
download the entire suite of programs to use Open Office Draw.
You can download the suite from www.openoffice.org. We can use
PDF files saved in this program to cut parts
- Inkscape: This free vector-graphics drawing software is available
at www.inkscape.org. Please be sure to include a 1" square
size reference in your SVG file generated from Inkscape, as sometimes
there are scaling issues when opening SVG files in the software
To laser cut parts, we will need one of the accepted file types
listed above. If you would like us to draw your parts on the computer
for you, you will need to prepare a mock-up file of your parts or
a file with a written description communicating the parts you need.
The file can be any file type that we can read, such as a text file
with a written description, a scan of a hand sketch (JPG, GIF, BMP,
PDF), a mock-up in Word, Paint, or Excel, etc.
To request a quote that includes file creation, please submit your
file in the email and mention that you need us to draw your parts.
File creation costs are listed at our laser
cutting pricing page.