There are a variety of software programs commonly used to design graphic files for laser processing. These programs include text, graphic design and layout, photo editing, CAD/engineering design, and serialization and coding software.
Here is a list of some of the more common software programs used with laser systems (also known as laser cutters, laser engravers, or laser machines).
You can achieve simple text-based designs using word processing software.
- Microsoft® Word
Graphic Design and Layout Software
Graphic design and layout software supports laser engraving, laser marking, and laser cutting. This type of software has very strong visual references including scales or rulers and grids to assist with layout or positioning graphics either created with the software or imported from other design software.
These are some of the most commonly used graphic design and layout software tools for laser processing:
- CorelDRAW from Corel™
- Illustrator® from Adobe®
- Inkscape – A free, open-source design tool
Photo Editing Software
Photo editing programs are useful for enhancing photographs and other images for laser engraving and laser marking. The images prepared by photo editing software are typically imported into a graphic design and layout software such as CorelDRAW, Adobe® Illustrator®, or Inkscape for final layout before laser processing.
The most common photo editing software programs are these:
- Photoshop® from Adobe®
- GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) – A free, donation supported program
- 1-Touch Laser Photo™ from Universal Laser Systems, Inc. – FREE TRIAL
Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Engineering Design Software
Most CAD and other engineering design software can be used to design files for very high dimensional accuracy laser processing, especially with machining operations including laser cutting, laser scribing, and laser drilling.
Here is a list of some of the more common programs used for laser processing:
- AutoCAD® from Autodesk® – A free 3-year subscription is available for students
- BobCAD and BobCAM from BobCAD-CAM
- CATIA™ from Dassault Systemes
- Creo from PTC (Formerly known as Pro/ENGINEER and Wildfire)
- DraftSight™ from Dassault Systemes
- Fusion 360™ from Autodesk® – A free 3-year subscription is available for students
- Inventor® from Autodesk® – A free 3-year subscription is available for students
- Mastercam® from CNC Software, Inc.
- Rhinoceros® from McNeel
- SketchUp from Trimble – Free for personal use
- SolidWorks® from Dassault Systemes
- TurboCAD® from IMSI / Design
Serialisation and Coding Software
- BarTender® from Seagull Scientific
Choosing Your Software
Knowing your software options is one of the first steps to selection.
Each software program has its own design and output capabilities and limitations along with its own unique learning curve. Consider all your design and output requirements for laser processing and become familiar with how you will use the software. There are a variety of training resources available from classroom to online to become more proficient with your design software of choice.
Finally, do your own research, ask questions, and get the answers necessary to make sure the software you choose fully supports your requirements with the laser system you are considering.