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Laser cutter in textiles

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by Textileliz, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. My school has a laser cutter used mostly for RM and Graphics which we have had for 8 years or more. I have received some training but not enough for me to use on my own. the school uses CorelDraw with the laser cutter and are reluctant to look at 3D Design which I have found easy to use. What I would like to know is how to convert an image to a outline drawing to send to the laser cutter. I want to use the laser cutter to cut out appliqué shapes to reduce preparation time for KS3 students and would like the KS4 students to be able to produce their own designs. I know how to operate the laser cutter from the print stage, it is the processes before that I don't understand. Can anyone help me?
  2. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    I'm confused insofar as you are talking on one hand about Coreldraw, a proprietry package and 3D design. Did you mean 2D design? If you did, most laser cutters will run directly from it. PM me if you struggle and need to know specific tweaks.
    On the other hand, if you meant a 3D design package...
    The laser cutter is essentially a plotter. 3D design packages can't plot, they are designed to output information in 3 dimensions.
    What you have to do is select the plane you want to plot, which will lilely be the plan view, export the view in DXF format and import this into Coreldraw.
  3. re

    re New commenter

    I also assume that you are using 2D design.
    Load your bitmap into said aplication and use the bitmap menu to make it monochrome. You will probabl;y have to get rin of some of the anti-aliasing during that process. Then vectorise it and choose no fill from the fill menu. You should be left with an outline that you can pront.
  4. Sorry, I meant 2D Design. I found 2D easy to use, it is Corel Draw that's the problem.
    We have Corel Draw at school which is used to send work to the laser cutter. I have come to the conclusion that no one really knows how to use the software to its full advantage and wont admit it. I have spoken to another textile teacher who uses 2D Design successfully with her KS3 students. If my school doesn't have the license for 2D, I will have to consider getting work cut at another school.
    Thanks for the advice given.
  5. Sorry forgot to say it is Corel Draw I'm trying to turn bmp to outlines for cutting.
  6. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    You need to turn the bitmaps into vectors to create a cutting path. The laser needs a vector file to be able to cut. All it can do with a bitmap is engrave. Coreldraw has a trace function to do this for you. Later versions of Coreldraw make this easier than the early versions. In V13 they introduced a quicktrace feature that works well and is quick to use.
    Earlier versions required a bit more work. You have to tell it whether you want to trace around each side of the line, or down the centre, for example. If you don't select the centre, you'll end up with outlines around both sides of the bitmap line.
    Bear in mind that the software has to try and work a path from pixel to pixel. The higher the resolution of the image, the more nodes it will have and the longer the time it will take the laser to cut out. Low resolutions will result in a very rougth translation of the shape.you drew. Far better all round to draw in vector format from the start.
  7. Textileliz
    Email me your details and I will send you some Corel Draw booklets which I think will assist you. Corel is much easier for laser cutting, in my opinion, and I think you will be able to fully utilise the capabilities of the laser using this route. I assume that you are aware that you can laser engrave onto textiles? Denim is particularly good. Many synthetic fabrics seal the edges as the laser cuts avoiding the need to seam. Add bondaweb prior to laser cutting and you can simply iron the applique into place and avoid pinning or tacking. You may also be aware that you can do virtually everything in Corel that you can do in Speedstep, including applying pattern fills so as a designing tool for textiles it is superb. Well worth the effort to learn how to use.

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