Tips for getting your laser cutting design right the first time

Laser cutting is one of the many services that ShapeCUT provides here in Brisbane, and it’s an interesting process that combines technical skills with creative flair. By using high precision lasers, we can cut right through metal surfaces of up to 25mm of thickness with an incredible amount of precision.

One particular advantage of laser cutting is that it allows for a high degree of precision and therefore gives people the opportunity to make intricate designs other types of steel cutting may not provide.

A designer’s imagination is the only limit to what can be created by laser cutting steel. The process begins by drawing how the finished product will look after being cut, usually in a CAD program or similar digital tool. This is then passed into a laser cutting machine which will use the illustration to guide where the cuts will be made to within 0.2mm accuracy on a large cutting table. Then, if the initial specification is created correctly, the finished product will match the original design.

Therefore, it is critical that the initial laser cut design is correct before laser cut machine technicians see it. Here are some important guidelines to consider when creating a design:

Laser cutting machines are literal

Every line that it sees on a design is interpreted as an instruction to cut at that point so do not add any lines that you do not explicitly want to have a laser cutting steel at. This is especially important with decorative lines that may look right on a piece of jewellery for example but are not meant to be cut.

Remember the laws of physics

Bear in mind that this is one piece of metal that is having pieces cut out of it, so you can’t have separate objects. For example, having one object inside a complete gap would simply have the object fall away. You want to ensure that there’s a connecting piece of metal that runs through the entire design.

Look closely at the details

Since laser cutting machines are so precise it’s important to examine the intersection of lines to make sure they actually meet up where needed, otherwise the pieces will not cut off as expected. CAD programs allow you to zoom into the tiniest detail and give you an opportunity to make sure the lines intersect correctly before it’s too late. Likewise, this will provide a chance to find any small lines or dots in the image that may be imperceptible to the naked eye but will be interpreted as an unwanted instruction to cut.

Show restraint when possible

Cutting out too many pieces out may make the entire design fragile or even fall apart completely. If you have many lines intersecting at the same point this is a good opportunity to revise the design and make it stronger in the process.

Ensure that the design meets the cutter’s specifications

Check with the laser cutting service beforehand to make sure that the finished file matches the technical requirements. Converting the file between different formats may result in imperfections or loss of required detail, so it’s a good idea to send an example file beforehand and have it checked.

The team at ShapeCUT have the technical experience to guide you through even the most complex of laser cutting jobs. Talk to ShapeCUT today to see how they can make steel laser cutting easy for you.