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Laser Engraving and Cutting

A guide to PPLD's laser engravers/cutters

Working in CorelDRAW

At Library 21c and East Library, you can use CorelDRAW to layout the images you want cut/etched. Open the program from either the desktop or Start menu, and select New. The first thing you have to do is define the size of the workspace, which you can do in one of two ways. The easiest way is to make the workspace the exact size of the piece that you’re working on, and make sure the piece is in the upper left corner of the cutting bed. Alternatively, you can make the workspace area match the bedsize (24”x18” at Library 21c; 16"x12" at East Library), and wherever you place the images is where they’ll be etched/cut on the bed.

You can set any dimensions by inputting them into the boxes to the right of where it says "Custom", after clicking on new document on the Welcome Screen. Note that any image - or part of an image - that is not inside the workspace will be ignored by the laser, even if there is room inside the laser bed itself.

CorelDRAW main screen

Importing files

Files can be brought into CorelDRAW in one of two ways.

Method 1: Open up Windows Explorer and navigate to where the files are stored, then drag the files into CorelDRAW

Method 2: Go into the File menu of CorelDRAW and select Import, then select the file(s) and click Import. Finally click where in the workspace you want the files to appear.

For both methods, you can bring in multiple images, including a mix of raster and vector images. If you want multiple copies of the same image, you can either import the image multiple times or import once and then copy and paste.

Laying out Images

CorelDRAW will allow you to layout images in various ways, including:

  • Copying & pasting
  • Resizing
  • Rotating
  • Mirroring (flipping)

All of these options can be found either on the toolbar above the workspace or in the Object menu under Transformations. There are also keyboard & mouse commands.

Keyboard shortcuts

  • Copy: Ctrl+C
  • Cut: Ctrl+X
  • Paste: Ctrl+V
  • Center: P (while item is selected)
  • Print: Ctrl+P
  • Import: Ctrl+I
  • Undo: Ctrl+Z

Click on an image to get options to transform it. The easiest way is with the mouse - grab from the center to move, from a corner to resize, and from an edge to skew. If you need more precise control, you can do so from the toolbar. If you select multiple images, CorelDRAW will create a single bounding box and treat all selected objects as a single object temporarily.

The Toolbar

When it comes to moving and transforming images, you can either use the mouse, or you can use the toolbar to give you more precise control.

To use the toolbar, select the image(s) and then type in the new values you want.

Note that when you select something, a box with nine smaller boxes appears. You can select which of these nine to use as a reference point.

CorelDRAW image toolbar (labeled)

Options

  1. Anchor points - which of the nine anchor points the object position refers to
  2. Object position
  3. Object dimensions (absolute)
  4. Object dimensions (relative)
  5. Object scaling (locked to keep in proportion when resizing)
  6. Rotate
  7. Horizontal & Vertical flipping
  8. Line thickness (vector lines only)

Tip: To ensure vector lines are cut, set all lines to "Hairline" thickness.

Final Preparations

Once the images are laid out as needed, there are a few things to check before sending the project to the laser cutter.

  • Move any objects that you do not want etched or cut outside of the workspace. Any images (or parts of images) outside of the defined workspace will be ignored.
  • If raster images are laid on top of each other, only the topmost pixels (the ones you can actually see) will be etched. It will "see" through transparent pixels to any object below it.
  • If vector images are laid on top of each other, the lines will be cut multiple times. This is rarely desirable, and if you need a line cut twice it is usually better to simply repeat the job.
  • Vector lines can sometimes be treated as raster images if they are too thick. The easiest solution is to give all vector lines a thickness of “Hairline”.

Getting Ready to Use the Laser

When you’re ready to use the cutter, tell CorelDRAW to print the job. You can get to the Print dialog in one of three ways:

  • Select Print from the File menu
  • Press the Print icon on the toolbar
  • Press Control + P

  1. First, make sure that "Epilog Engraver WinX64" is selected. It is the default printer.
  2. Click Preferences to open up Epilog's setting panel (see the Machine Settings page in this guide for details on what settings to use).
  3. Click OK to send it to the laser cutter.

Caution: CorelDRAW will often report that there are issues with the settings/layout. These are not actual errors, but a misdiagnosis due to CorelDRAW interpreting the laser cutter as a regular paper printer. Do not correct anything that CorelDRAW flags as a problem.