Designing for Laser Cutting

Please read thoroughly through the information below to see how to create and export files, and help speed up the CAD process for your project.


Preparing a Laser Cut Design

If you’re looking to set up a comprehensive laser design and prepare it for cutting implementation, you can use Cypress Metals’ convenient laser-cutting instant quote system. This program is both intuitive and practical in the way it helps you transfer a design from paper to software, and finally to your actual cut.

Our system prefers DXF file formats, though SVG files are also generally acceptable. One major benefit of the software is the way it instantly lets you know if there’s a problem with the design, which is often based on one of five individual factors. Let’s go over each of these in some detail.

Ensuring Closed Contours

When it comes to final printing time, the cutting laser we use requires what are called closed contours. This means that all lines drawn on the outline are attached to some part of the overall cutout, and will subsequently be recognized by our software and split into sections representing metal versus those representing cutouts.

If you have any lines that do not connect to anything, however, the software will simply ignore them. Here’s an example of a test pattern that features curves for text, plus a straight line with no closed contour at the bottom – this drawing would cause issues:

On the flip side, the following image will be easily manufacturable with our cutting machine since all lines have closed contours:

Removing Lines, Borders and Dimensions From Drawings

When making drawings, only include elements that are meant to be laser-cut from flat sheet metal. Items like text, borders, tables, construction lines and various dimension expressions should be left out of all such drawings. Here’s an example of a drawing with far too many lines, borders, text inserts and other non-supported elements:

Features to Avoid

As we noted above, DXF file format is our preferred style. This format does support things like hatch patterns, text or 3D features, but do not use these – they aren’t meant for laser cutting. Our software will often simply eliminate those more complex elements.

Units to Use

Another thing to note about DFX files is that they don’t specify units naturally. As such, we recommend you create drawings using either millimeters (mm) or inches, as this is what our instant quoting Cypress Metals software assumes the dimensions are listed in. Pay particularly close attention here if you use CAD platforms to create engineered parts.

How to Export

DFX supports both binary and text file options, but we prefer text (or ASCII). Again, this is mainly due to the expectation of our software. There will be times where you won’t be given a choice here, but when you are, choose text over binary.