Custom Cut File Guide

MATERIALS

We use these wood sizes in our operation:
* Balsa and basswood: 4" or 6" wide by 36" long.
* Basswood: 4" wide by 24" long.
* Plywood and lite ply: 12" wide x 24" long

Material size and parts layout affect shipping costs. For example, if your project contains full-length 36" balsa sheets and full 12 x 24" ply sheets, we'll probably have to ship the cut wood in two separate boxes. For simplicity, cut that 36" balsa sheet into a 24 and a 12 or two 18's so that they fit in the same box as the plywood.

We have a large number of international customers. International shipping costs increase dramatically when the package has a dimension larger than 36". This is significant, because a 36" long balsa sheet has to go in a 38" long shipping box. Cut the 36" balsa sheet into a 24 and a 12 or two 18's so that they can fit in a 36" or smaller box.

CAD DRAWING GUIDELINES AND TECHNIQUES

We can accept .DXF, .DWG, .CDR and .TCW vector drawing files. No other file types are acceptable.

We work in inches. If you send a file in metric dimensions, we will scale it by 0.03937

Splines, beziers, and other complex curves sometimes are not translated well and should be avoided. Also, using groups or blocks in your CAD drawings can confuse the laser. If you have any question about compatibility send us a sample and we'll see how well it converts.

Eliminate double or duplicate lines - they cause the laser to cut the line twice, which increases the cutting time, results in a wider kerf, and may cause a burn-out which ruins the sheet of wood.

Always use 'connector' or 'break' tags to hold the pieces in the sheet. These tags should be at least 0.05" wide for plywood, larger for balsa. Most parts should have at least two connector or break tags. If you have very small lightening holes (1/8" diameter or less) or other small pieces you don't need, you can let the pieces fall out. If you plan on kitting your design this does not look professional.

Leave a margin of at least 0.125" around the edges of each sheet of material. Balsa is notorious for shrinking and some of our sheets are not a full 4" wide.

Wood is susceptible to burning when too much heat is applied to a small area. This can happen with double lines or when two lines are too close together. To minimize burns, leave a space of at least 1/16" between lines. If two lines converge to a point, reduce the length of one of the lines so that it doesn't meet the other line. Remove all duplicate lines.

Our software does not nest your parts and it does not optimize the cut file for the shortest possible cut time. You can help to minimize the cut time by doing two things. First, remove all duplicate lines from your drawings. Second, convert lines to polylines (sometimes referred to as connected line or continuous line).

The width of the laser beam is approximately 0.005". If you need very close tolerances then you must account for that in your drawings. Please be aware that wood thickness varies by up to .010”. When cut ready drawings are sent, we make no guarantee of parts fit.

All lines to be cut or etched must be 0.0" or a "hairline" in Corel Draw. All text must be in vector fonts (*.SHX). For Corel Draw files, all text must be converted to curves. Etching will significantly increase the laser time and cost.

Using Layers

All lines to be cut must be put on a single layer. This layer should be black (RGB 0,0,0) or red (RGB 255,0,0).

Labels or other text to be etched must be on a separate layer. This layer should be green (RGB 0,255,0).

Sheet outlines and wood descriptions must be on another separate layer. This layer should be blue (RGB 0,0,255).


BEFORE you send your file for cutting, please read our "Custom Cutting Info" page. If we have any questions about your cut file, we will contact you prior to starting work.
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