Laser Cutter Tutorial - FabLab@School - Part 1 of 3: Creating Files in CorelDraw

Uploaded by TLTLaboratory on 27.12.2010

Hello, and welcome to the first of a three part tutorial series which will teach you
how to use a laser cutter. This tutorial series was created at the Transformative Learning
Technologies Lab at Stanford University. In our tutorials we will be using the educational
edition of CorelDraw and an Epilog Helix laser cutter. That said, most of the techniques
and settings that will be demonstrated are transferable to other software packages and
laser cutters. In part one of our series, we will use CorelDraw
to create a cheat sheet of laser cutter terminology, part two will explain the Epilog printing
preferences, and part three will discuss how to set up the laser cutter hardware for successful
cutting and engraving. Before we start I would like to mention that
certain parts of this tutorial will go very quickly and you may need to pause and/or rewind
to keep up. Additionally, if you would prefer to read a transcript of this tutorial alongside
screen shots, please visit the TLTL website where a copy is available.
Ok, let’s get started, first open Coreldraw and start a new document. On our computer
we have already created a document preset for the laser cutter which provides a page
that matches the dimensions of our cutter. If you do not have stored profile, you can
input the dimensions of your engraver in the text input boxes below. In our case this is
24x18 inches (or 61 by 45.7 centimeters) , but different machines might have different
cutting areas, such as 12x12 or 12x24 inches. After your page is correct, press ok.
Before beginning to add content, the first thing we would like to do is set our origin
to the top left corner which will match the epilog machine. Before being able to do this,
we need to make sure the rulers are visible, to check whether they are, navigate to the
view menu and make sure the “rulers” choice has a checkmark next to it. Once they are
visible, move your mouse to the top left where there is a small resize icon. Click and drag
this icon until you reach the top left corner of the page. Once you arrive at the page and
both the vertical and horizontal lines overlap, let go of the mouse and your origin will be
set. After setting the origin, we can start to
add content to the page. Start by selecting the rectangle tool and then click and drag
to make a rectangle anywhere on the page. After completing our box go up to the top
left corner of the screen where there are two sets of input boxes, one for the object’s
position and one for the object’s size. Additionally, there is also a padlock icon
which signifies whether the dimensions are locked to each other. If the icon is currently
locked, click it to unlock it now. With the lock unlocked, change the size to 3 inches
by 2 inches (or 7.5 centimeters by 5 centimeters) by entering the numbers into each of the right
hand boxes. Once the size is correct, locate the rectangle in the upper left corner of
the page by clicking the center and dragging it into place. After placing the rectangle,
proceed to the top of the screen and choose “To Fit” from the zoom controls. This
will zoom the screen to our rectangle which will make it much easier to see our work as
we proceed. Next we are going to add a circular cutout
in the top left corner of the card. To do this we will select the ellipse tool and drag
to create an ellipse. You will notice that when you first begin dragging, the aspect
ratio is not constrained and you can make all kinds of ellipses. Since we would like
to create a circle, we need to hold down the control key which forces the tool to create
a circle. After completing the circle, navigate to lock icon near the object size boxes and
this time make sure the lock is in the locked position. Once you have done so, change the
horizontal dimension to .25 inches (or 0.6 centimeters) which will also force the vertical
dimension to change. Now, move your circle into the top left corner of your rectangle.
At this point, we are going to ensure the rectangle and circle will be cut by setting
their outline widths to “hairline”. Within CorelDraw, “hairline” is the smallest
possible outline width and if set, the laser cutter will interpret the shape as a cut.
To set your outline width to “hairline”, first select the pick tool which can be accessed
using the icon or by pressing ctrl & spacebar. Then hold down shift and click each shape
to select them both. Now, navigate to the outline pen tool, click and choose the “Outline
Pen” at the top of the menu. After the dialog box appears, choose hairline as the width,
set the color to red and then press ok. Next, right click the objects and choose “lock
object” which will prevent us from accidentally moving the shapes as we continue to add content.
Next, we are going to make a small data table on our card. To do so, we need to access the
pen tool which may be hidden under the freehand tool. This is a good time to point out that
many of the tools on the left have little arrows in the bottom right corner. These arrows
signify other tools are available if you click and hold on the visible tool. As you can see,
the Pen tool is located in the freehand tool menu. After selecting the pen tool draw, two
vertical lines and two horizontal lines in the middle of your card. The pen tool works
by single clicking the point where you want the line to begin, and then clicking again
where you want the line to end. If you want to keep the lines vertical or horizontal,
hold down shift before clicking the second time. After making a line you will notice
the pen tool attempts to continue the line as you move your mouse away. To stop it from
doing this press esc, then, start a new line with a single click, hold down shift and single
click to end. Press esc and start again, click, hold shift, click, esc. Click, hold shift,
click, esc. When you are finished, select all of the lines by choosing the pick tool
and dragging a rectangle that is larger than all the lines. By doing so, the software will
select anything within the boundaries of your selection rectangle. Once the lines are selected,
choose a 0.02 inches (or 0.05 centimeters) outline from the outline tool which can be
accessed using the icon or by pressing F12. Now choose the text tool which will bring
up the text properties in the top menu. Before clicking inside our rectangle, change the
font size to 16 pt. This change will bring up a box which informs you that if you proceed
all new text will also be 16 pt, this is fine so just press ok. Now click in to top left
section of your table and type “Corel”. Next continue to use the text tool to fill
the remaining cells with: Epilog, Result, Hairline, Vector, Cut, >0.001in, Raster,
& Engrave. When they are all entered you may need to adjust the placement of some of your
lines or text so there is no overlap. When everything looks good, we are going to assign
different outline widths to the lines and text. First select the top horizontal line
and assign it an outline width of 0.04 inches (or 0.1 centimeters). Next choose the three
words along the middle line: “Hairline”, “Vector”, and “Cut” and assign them
a red hairline outline. Also, remove their fill by selecting the fill tool and choosing
“no fill”. Next select the bottom three words, “>0.001”, “raster”, and “engrave”
and assign them a black outline of 0.015 inches (or 0.04 centimeters) and also remove their
fill. We can now see the value of setting our hairlines to red since it provides us
with a simple visual reference as to which words will be cut versus those that will be
engraved. With that complete, we are now finished with
this tutorial and have created a simple table which will help us remember how to know whether
our lines will be cut or engraved by the epilog machine. The chart reads from left to right
with the top line being the categories. As we can see, if we assign a hairline to a shape
within Coreldraw the laser cutter will consider it a vector and the result will be a cut.
On the other hand, if we assign an outline that is anything greater than 0.001 inches
(or 0.0025 centimeters) the laser cutter will consider it a raster and engrave the shape
instead of cutting it. That concludes the first tutorial. Remember
if the video went too fast for you please consult the written documentation on the website.
Once your file matches ours, please proceed to the next tutorial where we will discuss
the printing preferences of the laser cutter. Congratulations on making it this far!