The main programs for the operation of a CNC laser machine
Programs for a CNC laser machine are software that allows you to create sketches of future products and turn virtual models into real samples.
Using a laser machine, you can cut products and workpieces of various levels of complexity from solid materials. However, in order for the machine to “understand” exactly what it needs to do, two types of software are required: graphic editors for modeling and programs for controlling the machine itself and all cutting processes.
Laser equipment works with flat objects, therefore, for computer modeling of future products, such programs as:
CorelDraw is a software package deservedly having a lot of fans. It has an understandable interface even for amateurs, a large number of tools and templates, works with vector and bitmap images. Saves images in many formats, including .cdr – the format necessary for the further creation of the G-code that the laser machine understands.
Adobe Illustrator is an equally popular professional graphic editor that is great for creating sketches for laser cutting. It works with vector graphics, has a rich library of ready-made sketches, templates, fonts, styles, characters, etc.
LibreCAD is a younger and therefore lesser-known in wide circles software for drawing and 2D-design. A simple interface with a minimum of settings, support for .dxf, the “step back” function, many options and tools – these characteristics are quite enough to create computer models for laser cutting.
Of course, you can create sketches in programs that work with three-dimensional models, so if the user is familiar only with SolidWorks, he does not need to learn CorelDraw to work with a laser machine. All well-known software packages for 3D-design (SolidWorks, AutoCAD, ArtCAM, MasterCAM, 3ds Max, KOMPAS-3D, etc.) are suitable for working with flat shapes, but you need to be prepared for the fact that the model will have to be adjusted – often with When exporting a volume model in a flat format, problems arise in the form of broken or duplicated lines, etc. In these cases, knowledge of CorelDraw is still required to clean up the sketch.
Laser control software
To control the laser equipment, the so-called software shells are used, which allow you to control the settings for moving the emitter and, in fact, creating a product based on a virtual sketch with a PC. The most famous among them are:
LaserWork is an easy-to-use and understandable graphical environment that allows you to perform operations such as: controlling the processes of moving the laser head, visualizing the processing process, programming cutting parameters, adjusting laser power and cutting speed.
LaserCut is another easy-to-understand program that even operators with a minimal knowledge base in this field can master. Wide functionality allows you to implement a large number of tasks related to laser cutting: determine the entry and return points, adjust the cutting parameters, the power of the emitter and its speed, determine the time to complete the work and much more.
SheetCam has a wide range of functions necessary for working behind a laser machine: control of the emitter movement, calculation of the total cutting time, visualization of the laser head path. The program allows you to create tools with user-defined cutting parameters (speed of lowering the torch, slot width, piercing duration, etc.) and make changes to the control unit.
RDWorks is a laser machine control system understandable for familiarization and use, which in functionality is not inferior to the above software. Among the tools: setting the cutting order, checking the engraving area, entering zero coordinates for the machine and the part, setting the cutting speed, etc.