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Laser cutting process

Submitted by admin on Wed, 07/16/2014 - 19:01

The process starts with a drawing of your part(s) in a file format that the laser can understand. Usable formats include .dxf, .cdr, .ai, and many other vector file formats. If in doubt most drawing programs allow you to save as / export .dxf format files. If you do not have a computer drawing of your part you can mail or email a drawing or sketch along with the required sizes and we can draw it for you.

Once you have a design you can email it to us and we will send you an estimate of the costs. Upon receiving your approval and payment in full we will cut and ship your part to you.

Tips for preparing files for laser cutting

If you create your design using a program such as CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, AutoCad, or TurboCAD, here are some tips for designing your parts;

  • Draw all parts full size.
  • Use thin black lines (.001") where you want the laser to cut; the laser will cut down the center of the lines.
  • Include a 1" square for a size reference, and include just the outline of your parts.
  • Remove all fills and duplicated lines!
  • Include only one copy of each unique part and indicate how many of each you need.
  • Leave enough space around each part so that we can easily select them to create the cutting pattern.

The process only works with graphics in a vector format. Preferred file formats are;

  • .CDR - CorelDraw X5 or earlier
  • .AI - Adobe Illustrator (for PC) CS4 or earlier - Uncompressed
  • .3DM - Rhinoceros Version 5.0 or earlier
  • .DXF or .DWG - AutoCad R2000 or earlier - Uncompressed

For parts that have a critical fit you may want to adjust your drawing for the kerf, the width of the cut made by the laser, which is about 0.005". The preferred method of doing this is to draw your part to the required size and then save both the original drawing and a cutting path copy. Edit the cutting path copy by creating an offset of .0025" to the outside of parts (or to the inside of holes) and then deleting the original lines.

Note that the absolute accuracy of the part may vary slightly depending on the material and its thickness.

The largest part we can cut is 24" X 18". If the part doesn't fit in a 24" X 18" box in your drawing program it will not fit in the laser!

Text, thick lines, bit maps, and fills (shaded areas) will not be cut but may be engraved if that is required. Note that if a black graphic has a thin red outline the laser will engrave the area and then cut along the outline.

Materials

We can laser cut;

  • Acrylic, (Plexiglas, Acrylite, Lucite, Perspex, PMMA)
  • Acetate,
  • Thin Polycarbonate (Lexan, Makrolon, Nalgene, Merlon)
  • Fabrics from silk to denim
  • Leather and suede
  • Paper, card, and cardboard
  • Polyester and Mylar sheeting
  • Wood, plywood, Masonite, and veneer
  • and many others

We cannot laser cut;

  • Carbon fibre
  • Glass
  • Metals
  • PVC / Vinyl

We can supply Baltic Birch plywood, Lexan, and acrylic, and can quickly obtain most other sheet plastic materials from our suppliers (minimum quantities may apply). If you wish you can also ship your materials to us or have them drop shipped to us from your supplier.

To determine if your material is suitable for this process please send a small piece of your material (4" X 4") and return postage and we will make a sample for you.

Limitations

The largest part we can laser cut is 24" X 18".

Plastic thickness is nominal and can vary by + or -10%.

The laser cuts at a slight taper. Due to the taper, one side of a laser-cut part (the side that the beam hits first) will have a slightly wider kerf (cut width) than the opposite side. The taper is almost unnoticeable in 1/8" material and more noticeable on thicker material. Note that this is not the case for Acrylic, which cuts with a vertical edge up to 1/2" thick.

The kerf (the thickness of the laser beam) is about 0.005". See tips above to learn how to adjust for the kerf.

The edges of some materials including Lexan, wood, and paper may be discoloured by smoke or charring. The thicker the material the more discolouration there will be.

The accuracy of the cut will be +/- .002".

Requesting a quote

Once you have your drawing finished, you can send it along with an email to request a quote from us. Some of the things to include in the email would be:

  • The drawing as an attachment.
  • Contact information where we can reach you. Either by email or phone number
  • How many copies of the drawing you want cut
  • When you would need the finished product by
  • Material you would like to have the product made from.
  • Any other information that you feel would be helpful to us in returning a quote.

Pricing

$20.00 minimum

No set-up fee.

If you have any questions about having a laser cut part made.

Email: info@KelownaEngravers.com

Call: 250-860-2223