Writing DXF (Drawing eXchange Format) files that have laser-cut text on them can be a tricky process, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, you can visit this site to find the help you’ve been searching for.
In the past, you could only create cutting files for laser cutters using an expensive CAD program or manually drawing in a graphics editor like Adobe Illustrator. Thanks to technology, there are now websites where you can create and download free laser cut files to use with your CNC machine. Follow the steps below to create clean laser cut files with your CNC machine in less than 10 minutes.
Set Up Fonts in CAD Software
Before you can import laser-cut files into your computer, you need to install your fonts.
Most CAD programs have a File -> Install Fonts menu option that lets you select and install new fonts. Once you’ve done installing them, check out their folder in Windows Explorer. There should be a FontBook icon. Open it up and look at all of your installed fonts. They should be listed alphabetically by family name. If not, then drag them around into an order that makes sense.
For DXF/DWG software (like AutoCAD or SolidWorks), you’ll need TrueType font files (.ttf). For vector software (like Inkscape), use PostScript Type 1 format (.pfb).
Create Free Laser Cut Files in DXF Format in CAD Software
The first step in making laser-cut text is to create a DXF file of your design.
There are many CAD programs that you can use. These include AutoCAD and SketchUp, but Inkscape is an alternative that has some added benefits. It’s free and easy to use, making it ideal for those without experience in CAD software.
Download Pattern Files
DXFforCNC offers several free vector files that you can use with common laser cutting software (like CorelDraw and Inkscape) or cut from material on a laser cutter.
These are free laser cut files in DXF format and can be opened with DXF-compatible programs. While they’re not specifically meant for use in most CAD/CAM systems, they should be compatible if you open them first in a 2D CAD program like AutoDesk Autocad, Rhino, SolidWorks, or OnShape.
Connect To CAM Software
You’ll need to import your vector files into CAM software.
There are free and paid options. The free version of VectorWorks allows you to import DXF files and create toolpaths from them.
It may be a good option if you’re just starting out. Autodesk Inventor Fusion comes with its own CAM software, so you can use that if you have it on your computer. If not, download a demo or purchase it outright.
Write G-code File with CAM Software
After you’ve designed your project in a CAD program, you need to write it as a G-code file.
CAM software will take your 2D design and create Gcode with all of its cut lines, toolpaths, and speeds. Since there are many options out there we won’t go into detail about any specific one here. Instead, we recommend you do a little research and find one that fits your needs (and budget) best.
Cut a Part with a CNC Machine
A lot of hobbyists overlook free laser cut files in DXF format when trying to make laser-cut text for their own use.
In fact, many don’t even know that CAD files exist in these formats.
However, it is more efficient and cost-effective (time-wise) to create your designs with a computer and import them into your laser cutter rather than drawing out freehand. The advantage that DXF files offer is that they can be manipulated in many different ways. All you have to use are common design programs like AutoCAD and Illustrator CC!
Use an Engraver
If you’re creating vector artwork, it might be hard to find a service that can engrave letters and shapes into your design.
If that’s true for you, there are numerous services online that will allow you to upload a DXF file and have it laser-engraved on a material of your choice.
It’s worth noting that these files may contain information about layers or colors (depending on whether you created them with Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW). This means they could cost more than a simple flat cut from some companies.
But if you’re just looking to add text, then it should work just fine as long as you convert your vectors into paths before uploading them!
Use SVG Text Editor (optional, if you want.)
If you want to save time and make laser cutting text easy, then I suggest using an SVG text editor. There are many free (and paid) tools out there that can help you do exactly that. The one that I would recommend is called Inkscape. It’s free and extremely simple to use. So if you’re new to vector drawing programs, then it will be a good starting point for you.
When we were in high school, my brother and I took a shop class together. One of our assignments was to make something with a laser cutter. He had it easy. All he had to do was find some free laser cut files in DXF format; then he imported one of them into CorelDraw and it would show up on his screen just as he planned.
For me, however, there was no such luxury. That’s when I learned what format meant (to more or less everyone) – .dxf is AutoCAD’s native file format, whereas .svg is just some weird computer thing. Every time you want to send a .dxf file somewhere without paying $800 for software that can open it you have to convert it first.
Unfortunately, many of these programs take a lot of finesse to use correctly. Hopefully, these tips will help save anyone else who comes across them from throwing their hands up in frustration at what seems like an impossible problem. Good luck!