Professional Design Tip for Laser Cutting
Although conventional cutting methods are still in use in various industries, laser cutting has arguably taken over. Not only is it less expensive, but laser cutting is also faster and timesaving. Moreover, it is easier to learn how to operate a laser-cutting machine than manual cutting equipment. However, it is essential to note that laser cutting depends solely on what you feed the machine. Therefore, if you get the design wrong, then the chances are that the final laser-cut product will not pass quality assurance. For this reason, it is critical to understand how to design for laser cutting, and this article highlights useful professional tips for achieving this.
Show Restraint With Complex Designs
As mentioned, laser cutting is easy and less time-consuming. This gives designers the time to come up with elaborate designs. However, it is easy to get carried away and make designs that require the elimination of too many pieces from the material. For instance, if many lines are intersecting at a certain point in the design, then there is every likelihood that the entire product might fall apart. The reason is that cutting out too much from the main piece makes the final product fragile and susceptible to breakage. Therefore, if you find yourself forcing elaborate designs on materials, try as much as possible to revise the concept. The revision will help you to eliminate parts you do not need in the design, thereby ensuring the laser cut piece can hold its own.
Don't Ignore the Kerf
When you saw a piece of wood or acrylic, the small amount of material that falls from the piece is referred to as the kerf. This occurs because every cutting blade has a width that must be factored in when making measurements. The same happens in the laser cutting process because as the laser beam passes over a material, some of it evaporates, and this leaves a gap. If you don't factor this in your measurement during the design process, then the different pieces will not fit together. For example, if you are laser cutting a window frame measuring 40 cm wide, you should point the laser cutter inside and not exactly at the 40 cm mark. By cutting from the inside, the gap created by the evaporating material will ensure the piece is exactly 40 cm wide once you are done. Factoring in the kerf therefore ensures accurate laser cutting, especially for pieces that are designed for assembly.
Avoid Close Characters
If you want to save on a material, then you need to squeeze characters in as little space as they can fit. However, if you design characters close together, you are going to have a problem with laser cutting each character without affecting the preceding one. For instance, if you are to cut out the word 'HOTEL' on acrylic or wood and the letters are close together, then the word will be illegible since nothing separates the characters. Therefore, you should always ensure there is enough space between characters. This will allow the laser beam to cut individual characters, thereby making the final word readable.