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Specific guides

Here, I try to collect guides to specific methods and procedures.

Note: the guide on mechanical adjustments has moved here!

I have written some initial guidelines for settings for starting with the Sculpfun (or any other diode) lasers.

Guides by Cobey Schmidt

Cobey Schmidt provides a set of great tutorials for different projects you can use your laser for. I highly recommend reading them to get some first ideas and guides on how to do them yourself. Always remember: there is no perfect setting that fits all circumstances, you need to find your own! The guides from Cobey are done with a xTool laser, but the procedure is the same using a Sculpfun or any other diode laser.

This is 5% doing, and 95% mucking around and finding out.  You *will* have failures, and that’s both ok and normal.  Get yourself some waste material, the cheap stuff, and see what happens.

Cobey Schmidt
So, I’m new and never used a laser before – A Practical Guide
Photos on wood
Laser Engraving and Powder Coating
Ti02 – Skipping the paint
Black Gesso vs Tempera
What’s in a watt?
Acrylic Engraving
Acrylic Etching
Overview of the guides written by Cobey

Lasering glass

Here is a nice video showing how to handle glass with a diode laser:

Photo processing guide

Photo processing for lasers

This guide was written by George (Facebook) and he permitted to publish it here as well:

I would like to share what I have learned so far on how to prepare a photo for laser engraving. This is not an expert guide but just my novice experience I gained these past few months since Sep last year. If you use a different approach or find that something else works better please share it in the comments.

Basics of photo processing for lasers

There is a lot of information on the Net about photo processing, but not so much about photo processing for lasers (at least I couldn’t find very much). The following is not an exhaustive guide. It is just based on my experience and there may be better ways than described below. This is not meant to be a detailed “How to” description, rather just explaining the basic principles that will help you understand what you need to do. Prof. Google and his assistant YouTube is a great help in directing you specific “How To” for the principles listed below.

Know that photo processing is not an exact science. Much rather, it is an art that will improve as you gain experience. Each photo is different, and it’s only experience that will guide you in how to get it just right. Be prepared for experimenting, and don’t think of the less desirable results as failures. Rather, see it as learning experiences. Think about what went wrong and what needs to be done to improve it. The following principles helped me in that process.

1) Low-resolution photos or photos with bad lighting (especially when the light source comes from behind the subject) don’t work very well. Photos taken from Facebook and WhatsApp are low-resolution photos. If you can’t get a high-resolution photo, you need to resize the photo with photo editing software. I find that the BigJPG website https://bigjpg.com/gives good results. This software uses AI and gives better results than other photo processing software that use a more mechanical processes.

2) Understand the importance of using the correct DPI and scan gap settings. The following article gives a good explanation about it to help you decide which DPI and scan gap setting to choose. https://diylaser.blogspot.com/2011/09/laser-engraving-and-dpi-scan-gap.html

3) Understand the basics of the Dodge and Burn photo processing method, where you lighten too dark areas and darken too light areas on the photo. The different photo processing software programs use different approaches to achieve this effect. I use the free open-source software GIMP. Here is a YouTube video explaining a simple method of doing the Dodge and Burn technique in GIMP: https://youtu.be/NsbCP0XWfEM Other photo processing software may use different approaches to do this. To use this technique, you must understand what the histogram in photo editing means. The following article explains it: https://photographylife.com/understanding-histograms-in-photography

Check the preview in the GRBL software (LaserGRBL or LightBurn or any other software you use to generate G-code for the laser). This is also not an exact science, but as you gain experience, you will learn what it will look like to give a good engraving. Be prepared to go back to redo your editing (sometimes it may be easier to restart from the beginning). High-quality photos with nice lighting doesn’t need much processing. Low-quality photos with bad lighting will need more.

4) Laser power speed settings – Each laser (even the same models) is different and will have its own unique power speed settings. Know that there is a good chance that the settings you copy from someone else will most probably not give you the best results. At best, it can serve as a guide from where to start.

It is best to do your own power/speed burn tests. That will help you determine the best settings for your machines. For picture engraving, the black square test doesn’t work very well. It is best to use a picture (I prep a photo with different contrasts and shadings at about 50 mm x 50 mm), and start with a certain speed setting (what others have used can be helpful to give you a benchmark) and work around there. I find that 1200 mm/m for my 5,5w diode laser works best for the NWT – Norton White Tile (for more info on this and how to do it, join the Den of Lasers Facebook group and work through their guides. All the info on how to do great white tiles will be found there. https://www.facebook.com/…/52277530837…/learning_content

For each material, do a test burn, starting at a low-power setting and going higher. I create a test matrix with the different speed / power settings of about six to eight 50mm x 50mm images (the different software have different approaches on how to do this).

For example, I will do four images at (1) 1000 – 30% (2) 1000 – 40% (3) 1000 – 50% (4) 1000 – 60% and the second row of (1) 1100 – 30% (2) 1100 40% and so on. These starting values may vary for different materials.

5) The sequence of steps I take when processing a photo is:

  1. Check the resolution of the photo and increase its resolution with BigJPG if necessary
  2. Set the correct DPI for the photo
  3. Resize the photo to the desired size that you want to engrave
  4. change the photo to grayscale
  5. use the Doge and Burn technique to lighten areas that are too dark and to darken areas that are too light
  6. use some type of software to dither the photo

There are several options. I use free open-source software because that’s all my hobby budget can afford. I mostly use LaserGRBL 1 bit dithering – Stucki. I have not used what follows, so take it with a grain of salt, as the info is only based on what I read and not on first-hand experience. Dithering can also be done in LightBurn. It can also be done with other software. If you use other software than the GRBL software (LaserGRBL – LightBurn) then you need to use the pass through option with the GRBL software. It can be done with GIMP and there is a plugin that is also used – DA Big Gimping Plug-in. Unfortunately, this is not free https://infinitelaser.us/…/da-big-gimping-plug-in…/ The other option is to use the IMAGR website (free option) or download the program (pay option) https://www.imag-r.com/