When you’re looking to have laser cut parts made, it’s important to have a .dxf or .svg file ready to go so the CNC router can make the part you want. That may sound simple, but it can be more complicated than you might think. Do you want to create your own laser cut designs, but don’t know where to start? Then this library from DXFforCNC that offers free laser cut files may help!
But before you go, read on to discover CNC tips on how to create laser cut files will help get you started on the right foot. This guide will cover everything from what to include in your file so that your project cuts out correctly to how to ensure that the file is compatible with your particular laser cutter software and machine. Even if you’re just looking into creating your first ever laser cut file, this advice will prove useful in getting started with this crafty hobby.
Here are the tips on how to create laser cut files correctly, as well as where to find free laser cut files online if you need to save time and money.
What is a vector file?
A vector file is a file that uses mathematical calculations to represent graphics, images and texts instead of using pixels. These files are usually created with programs like Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Autodesk Inventor.
There are three types of vector files: .ai (Adobe Illustrator), .eps (Encapsulated PostScript), and .cdr (Corel Draw). It’s best practice to use one type of program in order to maintain consistency.
What does G-code stand for?
G-code stands for the letter G, followed by code. To put it in technical terms, G-code is used in numerical control (NC) programming for computerized machine tools. The term originated from its usage in mechanical controllers manufactured by General Motors (GM).
It is not an acronym per se because it does not stand for anything. Today, most use CNC or Computer Numerical Control instead of referring to G-code because of its association with GM.
Simple Ways to Print Your Vector File
When laser cutting your design, it’s crucial that you have a vector file. But what is a vector file, and how do you create one?
A vector file uses different geometric elements to create lines, shapes, and text. The most important thing is that these elements can be scaled up or down without losing any quality—meaning they are ideal for use in printing.
Here are some simple ways to convert your files into vectors before sending them off for laser cutting:
This free software runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download it from Inkscape’s website.
Adobe Illustrator is another popular choice amongst designers, but it costs $20/month if you’re only planning to use it occasionally.
CorelDraw works similarly to Inkscape, but some users prefer its interface over other options.
Free AutoDesk programs like 123D Design help beginners learn 3D modelling and sculpting skills for free, although it may take some time getting used to working with all of its tools.
SketchUp is a great option for those who want to draw in 3D. It’s easy to use and available online at Google’s website. There’s also an iPad app available now!
These services aren’t just great because they eliminate the need for complicated graphic editing knowledge; they also usually ensure high-quality outputs by converting all of your digital images into vector files automatically. And on top of that, many of them cost nothing, so you can easily create your own free laser cut files.
Creating Your Design In Illustrator (Optional)
Before you start preparing your design for laser cutting, make sure you have created a vector art file in Illustrator.
For simple designs, it’s as easy as tracing over a sketch with some basic lines and curves. This step is particularly important if you’re trying to get an extremely intricate design onto your piece; freehanding it in Illustrator can be time-consuming, but it will result in clean lines.
The Finishing Touches
Beside offering free laser cut files, DXFforCNC can also convert CAD files (both 2D and 3D) into vectorized SVG files for use in laser cutters. Converting a file using DXFforCNC takes just a few minutes. And then you’ll have a set of simple instructions for how to get your file ready for laser cutting.
If you’re new to creating drawings for laser cutting, don’t worry—DXFforCNC makes it easy! All you need is to install Inkscape on your computer; if you have another compatible software package (like AutoCAD or Adobe Illustrator), they will also work with DXFforCNC.
Final Thoughts on Creating Your Free Laser Cut Files
Before you export your file for laser cutting, it’s a good idea to do a final check of your design. It might seem like overkill—but we don’t think so! For one thing, exporting a CAD file from SolidWorks can take some time. So why not spend that downtime making sure everything is up to snuff?
We also strongly recommend changing all dimensions in your model from inches to millimetres (or millimetres to inches) before exporting. This will make it easier for shops outside North America or Europe to easily understand and cut our parts; which means you’ll be able to sell more designs globally and get even more CNC work than ever before.
Finally, make sure you close all files properly and there are no stray geometry lines lurking about in any unused layers in your model.