Illustrator for Laser cutting

Attention: make sure to also read the new Laser Cutting Tutorial before making a file for our lasercutters.

In the Mekano we use Adobe Illustrator to prepare files for the lasercutter.

You can use any vector drawing program, but in the Mekano you can only send files to the lasercutter from Illustrator. Illustrator is also ideal to check your file and make sure it meets all the requirements for obtaining good results. Hereby we show you some things that are important to make a file for lasercutting.

Start with a new file in Illustrator, 700x400mm for the Trotec or 900x600mm for the Epilog lasercutter — 'Landscape' format and not 'Portrait'. Make sure that the color mode is RGB and not CMYK.

All lines and shapes have to be in 'outline' or 'stroke' and no 'fill'.

Cut lines must be in RGB red -> R:255 - G:0 - B:0 and line thickness must be 0,001 pt or mm.

Engraving lines must be in RGB blue -> R:0 - G:0 - B:255 and line thickness must be 0,001 pt or mm.

Black text, logo's, thicker lines and such can be raster engraved. Watch out because this takes a lot longer and you are better off to experiment first and see the result and the time it takes.

Black text, logo's and 'fat' lines must be in RGB black -> R:0 - G:0 - B:0.

Keep away at least 5mm from the edge of the page with all cutting and engraving shapes. Because of fire hazard the distance between two cutting lines can be no less than the thickness of your material; if you're cutting 1mm cardboard distance between cutting lines is 1mm minimal, cutting 3mm cardboard distance between cutting lines 3mm, and so on.

Take away all unnecessary stuff, including clipping masks. Only what needs to be cut or engraved should remain in your drawing.

Common errors

You can’t set your lines to the right color?

First check whether your file has been setup in RGB and not CMYK.

File → Document color mode → choose RGB color mode

If your file was setup in CMYK, choose RGB and follow the steps below.

Select All (Control + a) → Edit → Edit Colors → Convert to RGB

Now you can set the lines to the correct color.

Still can't see your lines in color but only black & white?

Check or uncheck View → Preview on CPU ipv outline.

Lines are not visible on your screen with width set to 0,001 mm (Illustrator CC)

Edit → Preferences → Performance → Untick GPU Performance

You want to join multiple plates?

Because you have to stay 5mm from the edge, best practice to join multiple plates, is to make a frame at 5 mm from the edge. In this frame you can make your design.

Clipping masks occur when converting your file to Illustrator?

Use the script you can download here.

Paste this script in the following folder:

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator 2021\Presets\en_US\Scripts

Restart Illustrator.

You can select this script here:

File → Scripts → RemoveClippingMasks

You want to easily remove overlapping lines?

Select All (control + a) → Object → Live Paint → Make

Object → Live Paint → Expand

Optional: Object → Ungroup

The laser cutter stops immediately after pushing the start button.

Possible causes:

  • The line width is not correct
  • Opacity is not 100% → Select all the lines and set 'opacity' to 100%.

Blue lines (engraving) are being cut (Epilog).

When you only use blue lines (engraving), it is necessary to put a red line somewhere in your design. This is due to a bug in the software. This red line can be very small.

I have lines or shapes outside of the canvas.

Lines or shapes that are out of the limts of the canvas will give problems when laser cutting. You have to remove them. Best practise is:

  • Make a rgb red rectangle 5mm from the edges of the canvas
  • Select All (ctrl+a)
  • Choose 'Shape Builder Tool'
  • Press ALT + SHIFT on Windows or OPTION + SHIFT on Mac (hold)
  • Select all lines and shapes outside the red rectangle

Check out our video tutorial