Important Concepts

So far, you are familiar with the basics of EaglePrint, but you may still have questions about how the software maps your designs to cutting and engraving. We will show you some most important concepts in this section, to answer your questions and help you use EaglePrint properly.

  1. Laser processing modes
    First of all, you need to get familiar with the laser processing modes, which mean what a laser can do on laserable materials. EaglePrint supports laser cutting and engraving, here is a definition of laser cutting on Wikipedia.

    Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials. Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high-power laser most commonly through optics. A typical commercial laser for cutting materials would involve a motion control system to follow a CNC or Gcode of the pattern to be cut onto the material. The focused laser beam is directed at the material, which then either melts, burns, vaporizes away, or is blown away by a jet of gas, leaving an edge with a high-quality surface finish.

    Laser Cutting

    And here is a definition of laser engraving on Wikipedia.

    Laser engraving, which is a subset of laser marking, is the practice of using lasers to engrave an object. The technique does not involve the use of inks, nor does it involve tool bits which contact the engraving surface and wear out, giving it an advantage over alternative engraving or marking technologies where inks or bit heads have to be replaced regularly.

    Laser Engraving

  2. Vector graphics
    EaglePrint supports cutting on thin outlines and engraving on thick outlines and fills of vector graphics. Here is a definition of vector graphics on Wikipedia.

    Vector graphics is the use of polygons to represent images in computer graphics. Vector graphics are based on vectors, which lead through locations called control points or nodes. Each of these points has a definite position on the x- and y-axes of the work plane and determines the direction of the path; further, each path may be assigned various attributes, including such values as stroke color, shape, curve, thickness, and fill.

    The example below is an artwork of our logo in CorelDRAW, there are three parts, the shape eagle is drawn in black thin lines for cutting, the outbound of the shape eagle, the letters A, G, L and E, and the bottom shape are drawn in green thick lines for engraving, and the texts Advanced Automation are filled in blue for engraving.

    Vector Graphics

    IMPORTANT

    Windows will spool an outline as vector path if it is thin enough which depends and is variant in different drawing software, e.g. hairline in CorelDRAW, less than around 0.01mm in Adobe Illustrator, 0.00mm in AutoCAD, etc. You have to figure out the line width threshold in a specific software, drawing a rectangle, set the line width thinner and thinner until you get cutting instead of engraving.

    NOTE

    There are some drawing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, which do NOT support vector graphics at all. It is NOT possible to use this kind of software for cutting.

  3. Images
    EaglePrint supports only engraving on images. Here is a definition of images on Wikipedia.

    In computer graphics, a raster graphics or bitmap image is a dot matrix data structure, representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium. Raster images are stored in image files with varying formats.

    The example below is a photo of Audrey Hepburn in Adobe Photoshop.

    Images

    Engraving with laser is much different with printing with ink, there is no color applied on materials, laser expresses colors by etching material in different depths or densities. To map colors of an image to different depths, we convert colors to gray scales, and then map gray scales to laser power levels. But in practice, it is usually very difficult to control laser power precisely at a high rate of change, especially for some kinds of laser, such as the CO2 glass laser which is widely used in laser machines. The better choice is to map colors to different densities. A technique called halftone is often used to simulate gray scales by the use of black dots, varying either in size or in spacing, in a result of a gradient like effect. In the pictures below, the left one shows halftone dots, the right one shows what human eyes would see from a distance far enough.

    Halftone Illustration

    The example below shows the original and the halftoned photos of Audrey Hepburn.

    Original Image

    Halftoned Image

  4. Coordinates and job origin
    Every laser has a coordinate system set up on its work area, you must set up an exact same coordinate system, called machine coordinates or absolute coordinates, in EaglePrint to map the laser. Refer here for how to set up the home position.

    Machine Coordinates

    Laser controllers support standard Cartesian coordinates and its variants, laser manufactures use one of them according to their machine.

    In practice, people are often used to set a position in the work area from the laser, called programmed origin, where you want your job to be aligned. And there comes the job origin in EaglePrint, which tells the machine how to position the job relative to the programmed origin. Refer here for how to enable programmed coordinates and set up the job origin.

    Programmed Coordinates

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