VisiCut

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VisiCut

Visicut-Icon.png
Type: Laser cutter driver
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux (Java)
License: LGPLv3
Source: http://hci.rwth-aachen.de/visicut
Input Formats: SVG, DXF, EPS, PLF, Parametric SVG
Output Formats: sent to laser cutter or exported as PLF
Users: Mitja, Lukas, Patrick


VisiCut provides user-friendly control of a laser cutter. It allows preparing jobs at home or keeping jobs for future runs.

Materials

VisiCut can save settings for different materials and thicknesses and we will collect tried and tested values on a material settings page once we have a cutter. You can then try successful settings from that page or import some when you install VisiCut (or at any time by clicking options -> download recommended settings).

Laser Profiles

There are four standard profiles: cutting, marking, engraving and 3D engraving. Cutting and marking are vector ("line") based while engraving and 3D engraving will work with both vector and raster (pixel grid) files.

It's important to keep in mind these are fundamentally different, i.e. setting 100 % power/100 % speed in "mark" will produce different results than the same settings for "cut". You can make adjustments to these under options -> edit laser profiles.

You select the profile(s) you need through the "mapping" menu. Among the possible identifiers for groups of lines you want to treat as one are color and thickness - so you can choose to cut everything black and engrave everything else, for example.

Cutting

The laser moves relatively slow so there is enough heat along the toolpath to completely remove the material. Results in nice and clean cuts that should not need additional sanding when used with proper settings. When there are no vectors in your file, "cut everything" will trace the bounding rectangle.

Marking

Also called "vector engraving" - faster than cutting, which results in thin lines on your workpiece but ideally not too deep into cuttable materials.

Engraving

Turns colors in more or less dense point clouds using one of several available "dithering" algorithms and burns every point with equal power - the impression of color or even structure results from the spacing. Best zoom in on a detailed area in the preview (e.g. an eye in a photo) to have a better idea of how your work may turn out with the selected algorithm and resolution.

3D Engraving

Engraves darker colors at a higher power setting than lighter ones, thereby creating a relief. It's easy to screw this up, e.g. two areas might look very different to the eye but actually have similar darkness when converted to grayscale. Nice for logos and similar artwork with clearly defined areas!

Job Order

Sometimes a job has to be split into several parts and you might be confused as to which is which, and even if everything is saved as one job cutting may accidentally be carried out before engraving. Make sure to order the different steps in the desired way when mapping (the higher the earlier) to prevent such mishaps!

Parametric SVG

Besides the standard SVG file format, VisiCut introduces the so-called "Parametric SVG" format which allows for changeable designs from within VisiCut. This may be useful, for instance, if you want to design a box which can be cut from various material thicknesses.

The file format adds some parameters to the SVG header which don't interfere with the actual file, thereby allowing it to be opened by other programs. For full documentation, visit the Visicut wiki on github and look at the example files directly in VisiCut (File > Examples > predefined > parametric).

Further Reading/Help

For detailed information, read the Bachelor's thesis on VisiCut.

If you are having problems, check out our experience with VisiCut troubleshooting!

The group behind VisiCut is also developing "VisiCam", a webcam-based user interface - please let us (and them!) know what you find out about using it. There should be at least one Bachelor's thesis about it as well...