You have a laser and you want to start engraving, but you don’t know which software to use? I offer you some free and paid software.
- CAO (Computer Aided Design) / CAD (C omputer Aided Design) :
CAO or CAD in English, includes all software and geometric modeling techniques for designing, testing virtually – using a computer and digital simulation techniques – and to produce manufactured products and the tools to manufacture them.
- CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) / CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing):
The purpose of CAM is to write the file containing the control program for a numerically controlled machine tool. This file will precisely describe the movements that the machine tool must perform to produce the requested part.
- CAD (Computer Aided Drafting): Computer
Aided Drafting (CAD) is a discipline for producing technical drawings with computer software. It is distinguished from image synthesis insofar as it is not a question of calculating the rendering of a digital model, but of executing graphic commands (lines, various shapes, etc.). As a result, in CAD, the mouse and the keyboard replace the pencil and the other instruments of the draftsman.
- CNC controller:
Software that allows communication between the computer and the cnc in order to control it and send commands live.
LightBurn is layout, editing and control software for your laser cutter.
It supports most GCode based controllers (Grbl, Smoothieware, Grbl-LPC and Marlin), Ruida, Trocen and TopWisdom.
It allows to import illustrations in many image and vector graphics formats (AI, PDF, SVG, DXF, PLT, PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP) and to modify and create new vector shapes.
The management of the cutting parameters is complete, you can among other things play with the power, the speed, the number of passes, the brightness and the contrast, the dithering mode… and many other parameters.
- A 30-day trial version is available and then you will have to pay, but the price remains very reasonable for a Gcode license (around 30$).
- This is the one I use for my laser engravings.
- It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
LaserGRBL is a very good free laser engraving software to start with.
He is especially at ease in engraving logo images and photos. It supports image files (BMP, JPG, PNG, GIF).
It is possible to cut from an image, but not from a vector file.
It offers a very handy tool to configure, export and import your GRBL settings. (Personally I only use it for this function which allows me to switch from cnc mode to laser mode in 2 clicks).
Laser GRBL is available for Windows only. Also check laser making software from lasitlaser.es!
LaserWeb is another free laser engraving software.
It allows to import vector files (SVG, DXF, Sketchup) and images (PNG, JPG, BMP).
It’s pretty comprehensive but personally I don’t like the interface so I only tested it for a short time. But if you’re looking for free software that manages vector files, this might be a good option.
It is available for Windows and Mac.
Deepnest is an Open Source nesting software that allows you to group the files you want to cut so that they take up as little space as possible on your board. It is possible to merge certain lines to avoid having to cut twice. Convenient for laser cutting among other things.
- It can read DXF, SVG and Corel CDR files and exports in DXF or SVG formats.
- It is available for Windows and Mac Os and Linux.
- There is also an online version called SVGnest.