For business owners or designers who are looking for specific, detailed, intricate design work, one of the best things you can do is work with a fabricator who provides laser cutting services. Laser cutting is a great option for fine detail work, particularly when it's done by someone who specializes in programming and managing these machines. If this is the path you're seeking, here are a few things you'll need to consider as you draft the designs for your laser-cut products.
Every Line You Draw Will Be Cut
When you load a drawing into a laser cutter, the machine will cut every line that's on the drawing. That's why it's important to be sure that you only draw the lines that you actually want cut, not the decorative lines as well. The best way to ensure that you're focusing solely on the ones that need to be cut is to create your drawing and then cut it out with scissors on every single line. Does that give you what you'd expect? If not, re-evaluate how you're drawing the machine draft of the product. Just as important as eliminating extra lines, though, is ensuring that you don't miss a line. If the line isn't there, it won't get cut.
Minimize Your Line Intersections
Remember that the laser cutter will physically cut where the lines are on the design, so every intersecting line on your drawing will be an intersecting cut when the piece comes out of the machine. Too many intersecting lines will leave you with a piece that's nearly falling apart in some cases, so keep them to a minimum. Make sure that any intersections that appear are absolutely necessary.
Make Sure Every Line Meets
Your drawing needs to be complete without any dangling contours. The lines need to actually meet, not intersect. If you have any lines that don't meet, you may end up with gaps in the design where the material isn't cut by the laser cutter. That could disrupt your entire design. When you finish your drawing, ensure that every line has a clearly defined end. While you're at it, scan it and zoom in as close as you can to be sure that there are no stray lines, marks, or dots anywhere inside the design. The machine could read those as cuts when it's loaded into the cutter, so you need to keep your drawing clean.
Produce Multiple File Versions
Once you're finished with your design, make sure you know what file format you need to save it in. Ask your laser cutting company about what format they need the drawing in. They'll have to have a format that's compatible with their machine, so find out in advance. If you don't know, save it in several formats. Then, you should also send it in a PDF file as well. That way, they can see what the actual final product should look like without the confusion of the sketch. The PDF file ensures that if anything is lost in the conversion or the upload, it can be identified before the material is actually cut. This minimizes waste, reduces the production time, and prevents any confusion along the way.
Understanding how to create your sketch for the laser cutter is important for ensuring a successful project completion. You need to be able to produce a drawing that will actually convert to what you see in your head. The more information you have, the easier that will be. Talk with your local laser cutting contractor about any other recommendations or tips that will help with their specific cutter or your design.