Laser Workflow

Would any of you recommend a workflow for laser engraving?

Just finished a build and I’m in need of some guidance regarding laser engraving associated software and the process/workflow of design -> engrave. The laser is definitely functional, but I can’t seem to get anything to burn consistently.

I’ve tried various programs like Lightburn, F360, Inkscape, cnc.js, etc. but all I’ve done is confuse myself. I’d like to hear from y’all about the programs you use to design, convert, control, etc.

Assume that I know next to NOTHING about this. Appreciate y’all.

Only thing I can tell you is to put on appropriately colored safety goggles and make sure everyone else nearby does so as well. Sunglasses don’t count, you need something rated for the specific wavelength and power of your laser, and remember that the laser light will reflect and bounce around, so be extra careful if you have anything even marginally shiny downrange of the emitter/lens. Don’t forget about pets!


I use light burn for everything laser related.

I’ll create my svg file one Adobe illustrator (but you could use Inkscape).

Once I have my design, I save as svg. Then I import the svg into light burn. I’ve done a lot of testing with different powers and speeds to find what burns the best. I also test in scrap before burning my final designs.

When I switched to a more powerful laser, I had to start over on power and feed speed.

If you’re trying to convert a raster image (jpg) then I’d just use light burn. Test the different greyscale types to see which works.

There’s a lot of trial and error with lasers. Make a test design with a bunch of filled squares. Set each square to a different power 10, 20, 30 etc etc. All at the same speed and run the test.

If that doesn’t produce the darkness you want, then slow down or speed up the feed speed on all the squares and run it again.

Once you find a speed that you like, then you can use the different powers to get your greyscale. Save this light burn file and use it on future materials to get your powers faster.

One other thing on “fill” is the step over. I think light burn defaults to a (.1mm) step over. I usually change this to at least (.2mm).


Good call, and thanks. I’m using a laser shield from JTP so I’m covered in that regard.

Wow, thanks so much for the information! I’m saving all of the tuning steps to use at a later point.

I can handle AI and importing as an svg into Lightburn. For some reason, I was under the assumption that I needed a separate slicer to generate gcode to be used in Lightburn.

Do you experience connectivity issues with Lightburn? I do, quite a bit. I tried to manually add the MPCNC by using Marlin as the firmware, no go. But when doing auto detect, it recognizes it as GRBL for some reason. There’s also random stuttering while in motion, like the command is paused part way through. Are you using an SKR with Marlin?

I use light burn with a grbl board. Not sure about marlin.

I also mostly use cnc.js to feed my laser.

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Lightburn is a fantastic program for engraving. That said, it isn’t free. You could try LaserGRBL to see how you get on. LaserGRBL is obviously built around GRBL, but it has quite recently had Marlin added to its repertoire, albeit only in experimental mode at present (Smoothie ware also falls into this bracket), if you have the option of which firmware to use then I strongly suggest you use GRBL.

The workflow in LaserGRBL is -

Open the software, import an image, it supports both vector and raster images ( jpg, bmp, svg, png and others). Dependent upon the file format option screens will open for you to stipulate different options, for example, with a jpg you can select the dithering required, the scanning direction, the contrast, brightness and white clipping, you can manipulate the image with reversal, flipping and rotating. then you can specify engraving speed, laser mode, max power setting, pixel resolution and final size.

It really is remarkably good for free software. Once you are proficient at engraving you may prefer to splash out on Lightburn.


Similar here… Inkscape sometimes for preparing contrast (though light burn alone is usually adequate), then light burn to finalize contrast, then grbl with laser mode turned on and using M3 for power control (have to config lightburn for M3). Usually you want to etch direct from an sdcard for max speed, but if you have 32bit grbl then usb is about as fast. It isn’t like printers though, where sdcard turns out better… grbl handles the power so it looks good regardless if comms can keep up.

That is all for etching, but for cutting I usually just use light burn as well, and Inkscape to prepare the svg files. I used to use f360 for cutting with lasers, but light burn works as well and is less complicated to setup. For cutting I also use M3 btw… results in less overburned areas.

Surely you mean M4 not M3 Kev. M4 utilises dynamic power which should reduce burn at the edges

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Yep wires were crossed there, thanks for the correction.