Ponoko

Starter Kit: Autocad

Starter Kit: AutoCAD

Auto CAD

What is possible with laser cutting?

Laser cutting is great for intricate designs like jewelry, coasters, homeware and many other things. 2-dimensional or layered designs tend to be the most successful and value for money for reselling.

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What materials are available?

There are over 100 material options available include acrylic, wood, leather and metal. See them here. See them ordered by price here.

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What sizes are available?

Download the AutoCAD design template set.

We have 4 template sizes which match the sizes of the materials available. Choose the size that best suits the size of your design. You can add as many designs as you like to maximize your material usage.

Not all of the templates are available for each material so you’ll need to know which material you wish to use before you start laying out your designs. eg: Black acrylic comes in P1, P2, and P3 sizes. Birch plywood comes in P1 and 24x12 sizes.

You can see on the right hand side of the materials page which templates you should use for that material.

Our material sheets themselves are always slightly larger than the template Safe Area, and are often cut out on a saw so they don't have nice smooth laser-cut edges.

If you have a product in mind that requires uniform edges, or where you need to guarantee the outer size of the material, or where you need to guarantee positioning of designs within the sheet, then we recommend adding a blue cutting line around inside edge of the orange border of the template.

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How much will it cost?

Our software works out how long your order will take to make based on the material you have selected and the number of lines in your file. We then multiply that time by a per minute making rate to get your making cost.

Simply upload a correctly formatted digital design file into your account, choose a material to make it form, and we’ll provide you with an instant price for making it.

We have lower per minute rates on bulk orders available for Prime members as well as loyalty pricing that gets lower the longer you are a Prime account member.

You can also upgrade your making and shipping speeds to ensure your design arrives by your deadline.

Read our 10 tips for getting the lowest price here.

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How do I get a quote?

Login to your account and go to ponoko.com/quote

Simply upload a correctly formatted digital design file into your account, choose a material to make it form, and you’ll see an instant price to make it.

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How do our AutoCAD templates work?

Our templates are set on millimeters, scale 1:1.
Layers are setup with the correct color and line weight correct to "communicate" with the laser.

Lines drawn into the "Cutting lines" layer will be cut through the material.
Lines drawn into the "Line engraving" layer will be scored as lines.
Shapes drawn into the "Area engraving" will be engraved solid shapes.

Layer 0 is the template safe area or the size of the template. This layer is locked and should not be deleted. Orange lines will be ignored by the laser and not calculated for pricing, they are just a reference of the design area.

The orange borders indicate the size of the material sheet. The inner border indicates the area that can safely be used for laser cutting. Our material sheets sizes vary from sheet to sheet but we guarantee that what is in the safe area will be cut out.

All of your designs MUST be inside the safe area defined by the smaller border.

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How do you design for lasers?

There are 3 design elements; cutting lines, area engraving, and line engraving

To cut a line

Activate the “Cutting lines” layer and draw your designs.
Layer properties are setup on template to be BLUE (RGB 0,0,255) and line weight 0,00. Be sure that the layer color is shown as "by layer".

To engrave a line

Activate the “Line engraving” layer and draw your designs.
Layer properties are setup on template to be RED (RGB 255,0,0) and line weight 0,00. Be sure that the layer color is shown as "by layer".

To engrave an area

Activate the “Area engraving” layer.

The area engraving layer is setup in order to have an orange line stroke (RGB 246, 146, 30): our making system ignores this color, so the orange lines will not be calculated in making price, and the laser will just ignore them.

The orange lines are just to create the boundaries in order to fill them for raster engraving.

Use the Hatch (H) command and select the internal area of the shape in order to create a fill. From dropdown menu choose Solids from the different hatches: this will create a flat fill (patterns and gradients cannot be used).

Choose White from the dropdown menu.

It's that easy.

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What is the smallest overall part size that can be made?

Designs should be bigger than 6mm/0.2". When we cut your design, your sheet of material sits upon a honeycomb-like bed. Very small parts (6mm/0.2" round/square and smaller) can fall through the laser bed during cutting and be lost.

This is something that cannot be avoided, so your best option is to add extra copies of your small parts to your design to account for those which may be lost. You can also tag your pieces into the surrounding material.

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What is the smallest feature that can be made?

Designs should not have features (eg ascenders or descenders on text) smaller than 0.04”/1.0mm. A small amount of material is lost as the laser cuts out your design, approximately 0.2-0.4mm, or 0.1-0.2mm either side of the line you draw. You need to make sure your design is drawn slightly larger than your desired result to account for this.

For durable designs we recommend that any positive features are not smaller than 0.04”/1.0mm so they don't bend or break in use or get damaged in handling.

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How do you remove double lines?

AutoCAD has powerful built in tools to remove lines that overlap. You can read our guide for removing double lines here.

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How do you convert fonts for laser cutting?

Mac users:

At present only windows users can use text in their designs. The mac version of AutoCAD does not have the functionality to covert text to paths for the laser to read.

Mac users will need to construct any text or symbols using line tool on the “line engraving” layer.

Windows users:

All text used in your design will need to setup to be outlines on the “line engraving” layer. To do this, you’ll need to make sure the font you use is not bold or solid hatch filled font:
Use a single line font e.g an .txt font where possible

Use the Express tools command to retain the font style in outlines. To do this:

  • Select the text you would like to explode.
  • Select Express tools > Text explodes.

You can install Express Tools from your original AutoCAD installation file (usually this plugin installation is default) or download it from Autodesk website.

How do you save your file?

  1. Confirm that your designs are on the Correct Layer: eg All your cutting lines are on the 'Cutting lines layer', engraving lines on the 'Line engraving layer' etc.
  2. Your designs are within the border.
  3. Delete the examples layer from your design. Do not delete the layer 0 or the two orange boundaries of the template. These help us ensure the scale of your design is correct.
  4. Save your design as a 2007 DXF file.
  5. Upload your DXF file to www.ponoko.com/quote



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