This article guide you through the set-up of a file for lasercutting and engraving with Mr Beam. We will look into following topics:

1. Colour-handling

2. Line thickness

3. Fill vs. Stroke: Important for laserjob(s) and engraving in the lasercutting software!

In the following steps we are going to create an example file for a coaster in Adobe Illustrator. Of course, you can also use Inkscape or any other program for vector editing. You can download our example file at the End of this article for free. If you are not sure about the difference between a vector and a raster graphic, you might want to have look at this article

1. Colour-handling

If you are using the same colour for both fill and stroke of your object, you can quickly loose the overview of which part is meant for lasercutting and which for engraving. This is why we recommend using a different colour for all the elements which are meant for cutting, e.g. you can set them to red. All the other file elements, which are intended for engraving, can be set to black. This way you structure your file well for the upcoming lasercutting and engraving tasks and see everything at a glance.

The great thing about our software is that it automatically recognizes all vector colours within a file. You can assign a specific colour to a lasercutting job or an engraving job, or even set multiple lasercutting jobs with different parameters. 

In the working area: 

and later in the laser parameters:

2. Line thickness

If you want to lasercut along a vector line, the thickness of the vector is not important. (This is also a special feature of our software, as most of the other laser cutters require a line thickness of 0.01mm) The only requirement is that the vector should have a coloured stroke line, but no fill colour. The laser always cuts in the same line thickness (approx. 0,2) even if the line in your file has a thicker stroke. 



3. Colour fill and colour stroke

In this step it is important to understand how the lasercutting software interprets various elements within a vector file. With this knowledge you will be able to set up your file correctly for lasercutting and engraving jobs. 

3a) Lasercutting: 

If you want to lasercut a vector, everything is straight-forward: all the file elements meant for cutting should have a stroke, but no colour fill. This is because laser needs a clear vector path to follow while cutting. If you click on an object in Illustrator (menue on the right side-bar>Properties>Appearance) you can check if only the stroke has a colour and thickness. 

This is what it looks like in Adobe Illustrator:

And this is from Inkscape (a free alternative):

3b) Engraving:

You have several options on how to set up a file for engraving. 

We have chosen a variety of file elements to show a spectrum of possibilities here: a Mr Beam moustache logo (a raster graphic), octopus (a vector object) and 'Mr Beam' (a text element).

We don't need to make any changes to a raster graphic. Even the white area around moustache and glasses is fine, we can filter it our later in the lasercutting software.
A Vector object, which should be engraved and not cut, needs to be converted in a path in Illustrator: in the menu above click on Object>Path>Stroke. In Inkscape click on Path>Convert Stroke into Path. Now click on the octopus - its fill should have a set colour now, but not its stroke. *Exception: If you only want to engrave a thin line (approx. 0,2mm), you can skip this step. Just drag and drop this colour to the box with engraving jobs, when you are setting up the parameters in the Mr Beam software app.* 
Text element doesn't require any additional editing, if you intend to engrave it. (Should the text object look slightly different when you upload it to the Mr Beam software, you can try converting it into a path in your vector program: in Illustrator simply click on the menu Object>Path>Stroke) If you intend to engrave a filled text without the outline, make sure there is just the form filling set, but no stoke filling.
We have put together more detailed tutorial on how to laser-cut and engrave text in this article

Illustrator: (Object>Path>Stroke)

Inkscape: (Path>Convert Stroke into Path) 

You will find more information at a glance in the video below (in German, but with English subtitles), and even more video tutorials on our YouTube Channel.