Where to begin with laser cutting fins and cr's.

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cfoster3448

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I have recently purchased a laser etcher/cutter in hopes that I could cut my own fins, centering rings, etc. I am completely new and lost, looking for possibly a step-by-step demonstration/instructions or even where to start. I purchased the ORTUR Laser Master 2 Pro S2 LU2-10A with air assist.

I have many questions and have searched but can find nothing that applies to my cutter and what I'm trying to accomplish. I have the laser cutter setup on the kitchen table, ready to run. Is there a "methods and procedures" for cutting fins and centering rings for example; like the Maxi Aplha or Mega Mosquito? I have the ORK/RKT files and can view each piece of the clone/scratch build that I want to cut. Is there an export (to STL, dxf etc. or whatever "format" I need) to save the files, then load it into LightBurn or LaserGRBL and just cut it?

I also have LibreCAD - someone on here said they use LibreCAD for their cuts/burns, but am unsure of how to even begin. Is there a "script" or flow of steps (load this, convert that, export this, burn...etc.) to get my final product? I certainly appreciate any input, recommendations or suggestions anyone is willing to give.
 
I have recently purchased a laser etcher/cutter in hopes that I could cut my own fins, centering rings, etc. I am completely new and lost, looking for possibly a step-by-step demonstration/instructions or even where to start. I purchased the ORTUR Laser Master 2 Pro S2 LU2-10A with air assist.

I have many questions and have searched but can find nothing that applies to my cutter and what I'm trying to accomplish. I have the laser cutter setup on the kitchen table, ready to run. Is there a "methods and procedures" for cutting fins and centering rings for example; like the Maxi Aplha or Mega Mosquito? I have the ORK/RKT files and can view each piece of the clone/scratch build that I want to cut. Is there an export (to STL, dxf etc. or whatever "format" I need) to save the files, then load it into LightBurn or LaserGRBL and just cut it?

I also have LibreCAD - someone on here said they use LibreCAD for their cuts/burns, but am unsure of how to even begin. Is there a "script" or flow of steps (load this, convert that, export this, burn...etc.) to get my final product? I certainly appreciate any input, recommendations or suggestions anyone is willing to give.
Maybe @Chad will have some advice. I use LibreCad for the drawings I send him to cut, but I don't know what he uses to convert those for the laser.

Edit to add: maybe ask a moderator to move this to Techniques forum?
 
Maybe @Chad will have some advice. I use LibreCad for the drawings I send him to cut, but I don't know what he uses to convert those for the laser.

Edit to add: maybe ask a moderator to move this to Techniques forum?
There's more people doing this kind of thing over in the 3D printing (and other manufacturing) sub forum. Definitely some people doing laser cutting and CNC work.
 
I have the ORK/RKT files and can view each piece of the clone/scratch build that I want to cut. Is there an export (to STL, dxf etc. or whatever "format" I need) to save the files, then load it into LightBurn or LaserGRBL and just cut it?

Not directly.

For simple centering rings you can quickly draw them in LightBurn, basically:
  • Make two circles and set the width/height such that one is the outer diameter and the other the inner diameter
  • Select both and use the alignment tools to align them center & middle (vertically & horizontally)
  • Set the speed & power for their layer/color
  • BURN 'EM
For more complex shapes, e.g., fins, from OpenRocket one workflow is:
  • Export the design report PDF
  • Open the PDF in Inkscape
  • Select everything & repeatedly ungroup until there's just the basic shapes
  • Select the shape you want
  • Copy the shape to a new document and save it as SVG
  • Import the SVG to LightBurn
  • BURN IT
If you have not already, you should learn how to cut any basic shapes from LightBurn, and then worry about getting the shapes you want into LightBurn. E.g., you need to figure out the power & speed settings for the materials you're trying to cut.
 
Not directly.

For simple centering rings you can quickly draw them in LightBurn, basically:
  • Make two circles and set the width/height such that one is the outer diameter and the other the inner diameter
  • Select both and use the alignment tools to align them center & middle (vertically & horizontally)
  • Set the speed & power for their layer/color
  • BURN 'EM
For more complex shapes, e.g., fins, from OpenRocket one workflow is:
  • Export the design report PDF
  • Open the PDF in Inkscape
  • Select everything & repeatedly ungroup until there's just the basic shapes
  • Select the shape you want
  • Copy the shape to a new document and save it as SVG
  • Import the SVG to LightBurn
  • BURN IT
If you have not already, you should learn how to cut any basic shapes from LightBurn, and then worry about getting the shapes you want into LightBurn. E.g., you need to figure out the power & speed settings for the materials you're trying to cut.
First, I'll describe my experience (and lack of it) so you know where my advice comes from. I don't have a LASER cutter, but I occasionally use the one in the maker space at a nearby public library. The guy who runs the space gives me a lot of help, and I've only just started to get the hang of it as of the last time I did any, which was months ago.

OK, so here's my advice. Break the process down. Learn to do the designs using whatever software you have and you're comfortable with, as long as the output is a vector graphic format such as SVG or PDF. I use MS Visio (which I have on my work computer) and save as PDF, but you use whatever you've got. (Visio is expensive and I'm lucky that I use it at work.) That's the first piece.

After that, the software which you use to run the printer should be able to suck in the vector file and do the printing, but there are some steps to get it dressed, polish its shoes, and make it presentable to go out. This, I assume, varies according to the particular software you're using, and I've only just started to get the hang of one, and don't even remember what that is. So obviously, I'm no help on this part.

But my main point remains: generating the vector graphic design and doing the cutting are two different tasks, using two different tools (or tool sets) and two different skill sets. Focus on each one separately.
 
FYI we have a long-standing feature request for OR to export files for laser cutting and/or 3D printing. I hope we can get to it one of these days. If anyone wants to help with it, please feel free to jump in.

When I was attempting to add rocketry as a side business for my commercial cutter, I spent some time reviewing the ork file format and managed to get a somewhat functional import routine by parsing the xml and adding routines to the cad package (CorelCAD, but would work with other packages using whatever VBA/Macro/other language they use to interface the software) to interpret the portions of the xml that mattered. My idea was to basically take the data from the 'freeform fin' section and just redraw the fin as vectors.

I think this methodology would work for me, based on my skill-set, but most other users would not like it.

From my experience, anyone who gets a laser and really becomes good with the software for their laser (regardless of which path they take) can import vector based pdf's easily. If there is a practical way to export a 1:1 vector (not raster) pdf of the fins, then I think the problem is 99% solved. If there is already something that draws centering rings etc., then maybe its 99.5% solved.

I believe the keys would be:

a) 1:1 vector
b) 0" lineweight
c) each output on a different layer.

Regretfully, I am not a programmer, just a hack that isn't scared of code and am willing to write a bunch of gross/junk code to get rid of repetitive work. Anything I would try to contribute would lower the quality of the final product for sure, but I'm willing to show you what I've done, just as an example.

I am crazy busy, but if this is a real goal for OR and one the development team is looking at doing, I'll try to figure out the various things I did (4-5 years ago now. . . wow. . . ) and provide some information. To be clear, all the work was done on the CAD side, nothing at all on the OR side. I think that is why it is too fiddly. I think getting good vector pdf's from OR would be the best way to proceed, as that opens the world up to everybody's preferred software, not just one CAD package.

Sandy.
 
When I was attempting to add rocketry as a side business for my commercial cutter, I spent some time reviewing the ork file format and managed to get a somewhat functional import routine by parsing the xml and adding routines to the cad package (CorelCAD, but would work with other packages using whatever VBA/Macro/other language they use to interface the software) to interpret the portions of the xml that mattered. My idea was to basically take the data from the 'freeform fin' section and just redraw the fin as vectors.

I think this methodology would work for me, based on my skill-set, but most other users would not like it.

From my experience, anyone who gets a laser and really becomes good with the software for their laser (regardless of which path they take) can import vector based pdf's easily. If there is a practical way to export a 1:1 vector (not raster) pdf of the fins, then I think the problem is 99% solved. If there is already something that draws centering rings etc., then maybe its 99.5% solved.

I believe the keys would be:

a) 1:1 vector
b) 0" lineweight
c) each output on a different layer.

Regretfully, I am not a programmer, just a hack that isn't scared of code and am willing to write a bunch of gross/junk code to get rid of repetitive work. Anything I would try to contribute would lower the quality of the final product for sure, but I'm willing to show you what I've done, just as an example.

I am crazy busy, but if this is a real goal for OR and one the development team is looking at doing, I'll try to figure out the various things I did (4-5 years ago now. . . wow. . . ) and provide some information. To be clear, all the work was done on the CAD side, nothing at all on the OR side. I think that is why it is too fiddly. I think getting good vector pdf's from OR would be the best way to proceed, as that opens the world up to everybody's preferred software, not just one CAD package.

Sandy.
Honestly, I don't think it's especially difficult to do (much easier than exporting STL or OBJ for 3D-printing), it just takes someone to, you know, *do it*. What other formats other than vector PDF work well for input? I believe I was requested to supply EPS files in the past, but that's already several years ago.
 
Honestly, I don't think it's especially difficult to do (much easier than exporting STL or OBJ for 3D-printing), it just takes someone to, you know, *do it*. What other formats other than vector PDF work well for input? I believe I was requested to supply EPS files in the past, but that's already several years ago.
For my set-up (me only, not commenting on people who use more popular freeware/non-commercial products), vector pdf's, dxf, dwg, eps and hgml/2 are probably the order I would put them in as far as 'easiest' to use as the end user. It is very possible that the Inkscape/Lightburn group might have a different opinion and whatever their opinion is, I could likely work with the files, so hopefully some of them can comment. DXF is pretty much human readable, so it might be the lowest common denominator, as if you can't natively import it, but can write code, it is relatively easy to write an interpreter/scripting routine to make that input give you an output in your software.

I wish I felt I had the time/skill to help in a meaningful way, as I am 100% certain that if the OR project did a 'direct to cut'-ish option, it would become the standard. I know not everyone has a laser in the hobby, but a bunch of people do, but if there was a known path to "you drew it and I cut it, so if you don't like it, its not my fault" transfer, costs for custom work would plummet and people would easily be able to get anything hey wanted at a reasonable rate. It's the back and fourth between creator and manufacturer that kills the manufacturer's profit to such a level that they have to raise prices and/or bail out on custom work.

All, IMO, for reference.

Sandy.
 
I have recently purchased a laser etcher/cutter in hopes that I could cut my own fins, centering rings, etc. I am completely new and lost, looking for possibly a step-by-step demonstration/instructions or even where to start. I purchased the ORTUR Laser Master 2 Pro S2 LU2-10A with air assist.

I have many questions and have searched but can find nothing that applies to my cutter and what I'm trying to accomplish. I have the laser cutter setup on the kitchen table, ready to run. Is there a "methods and procedures" for cutting fins and centering rings for example; like the Maxi Aplha or Mega Mosquito? I have the ORK/RKT files and can view each piece of the clone/scratch build that I want to cut. Is there an export (to STL, dxf etc. or whatever "format" I need) to save the files, then load it into LightBurn or LaserGRBL and just cut it?

I also have LibreCAD - someone on here said they use LibreCAD for their cuts/burns, but am unsure of how to even begin. Is there a "script" or flow of steps (load this, convert that, export this, burn...etc.) to get my final product? I certainly appreciate any input, recommendations or suggestions anyone is willing to give.

LibreCAD has a pretty steep learning curve but, really, all you need to do is get what you want to cut into a format that can be imported by LightBurn. I use LibreCAD because I was an AutoCAD draftsman in college and still remember the basics (amazingly). Also, as someone else mentioned, you can draw the fins directly in LightBurn too. I want to say you can even hand draw a diagram on a plain sheet of paper and then scan to PDF and import that too. Once you have the drawing in LightBurn then you should be able to follow the regular documentation for your laser cutter to get the parts cutout.

I'm going to try and put something together that can read an OpenRocket file and output something LightBurn can work with. I'll keep you updated over PMs but we're talking a couple weeks probably. I think what it would look like is goto oakclifflaser.com/convert, upload the .ork file, and get back a dxf or something that can be imported.
 
LibreCAD has a pretty steep learning curve but, really, all you need to do is get what you want to cut into a format that can be imported by LightBurn. I use LibreCAD because I was an AutoCAD draftsman in college and still remember the basics (amazingly). Also, as someone else mentioned, you can draw the fins directly in LightBurn too. I want to say you can even hand draw a diagram on a plain sheet of paper and then scan to PDF and import that too. Once you have the drawing in LightBurn then you should be able to follow the regular documentation for your laser cutter to get the parts cutout.

I'm going to try and put something together that can read an OpenRocket file and output something LightBurn can work with. I'll keep you updated over PMs but we're talking a couple weeks probably. I think what it would look like is goto oakclifflaser.com/convert, upload the .ork file, and get back a dxf or something that can be imported.
What is your preferred file format for importing into Lightburn?

To be clear, what OR could do is export a file containing one each of a selectable set of components in the design, including fins and centering rings (offhand I can't think of any others that are laser cutting candidates). The user would be responsible for taking the shapes and orienting them and laying them out on the sheet for cutting.
 
What is your preferred file format for importing into Lightburn?

To be clear, what OR could do is export a file containing one each of a selectable set of components in the design, including fins and centering rings (offhand I can't think of any others that are laser cutting candidates). The user would be responsible for taking the shapes and orienting them and laying them out on the sheet for cutting.
I use dxf but that's because every CAD software supports "save-as dxf". Generating svg files probably has better support when you're putting together files from code and works just as well in LightBurn.
 
I want to say you can even hand draw a diagram on a plain sheet of paper and then scan to PDF and import that too.
I want to say, but won't swear, that if you do that you'll get an embedded pixel graphic (bitmap or whatever) not a vector graphic. No different from what you get be making a PDF file from a word processor with pictures in the document. The text is vector, the pictures are not.

To be clear, what OR could do is export a file containing one each of a selectable set of components in the design, including fins and centering rings (offhand I can't think of any others that are laser cutting candidates).
I don't think OR does angled cuts cuts on tubes, does it? Those can be LASER cut if one has the rotary add-on that's available for many cutters. Tube slots can likewise be cut on the rotary add-on, and I guess, maybe, that might be easier to add to OR than angled cuts (or fancy cuts like these1684513765252.png).

If I ever take programming up as a hobby again, I'll talk to you about contributing. But that probably won't happen until I retire, which may or may not happen before I drop dead.
 
I don't think OR does angled cuts cuts on tubes, does it? Those can be LASER cut if one has the rotary add-on that's available for many cutters.
No, it doesn't, and it's not in the cards to be done any time soon, if ever.
Tube slots can likewise be cut on the rotary add-on, and I guess, maybe, that might be easier to add to OR than angled cuts (or fancy cuts like these).
How many folks with laser cutters have the necessary attachments to do tube-slotting? I would have thought "not many", which is to say I would put it at lower priority than fin- and centering ring-cutting.
 
I would guess not many individuals. Both of the maker spaces I've been to do, and I would venture a guess that many others do as well.
 
What is your preferred file format for importing into Lightburn?

I'd argue for SVG. It's not proprietary; there's a bunch of libraries out there to generate, parse, and render files; and it's very widely supported for viewing. Inkscape uses it natively and is a great tool for vector drawing. Lightburn works well with SVG. Also notable that Cricut and Silhouette's software can import SVG, and you can cut balsa, matte board, cardstock, vinyl, and lots of rocketry related material with those.
 
I'd argue for SVG. It's not proprietary; there's a bunch of libraries out there to generate, parse, and render files; and it's very widely supported for viewing. Inkscape uses it natively and is a great tool for vector drawing. Lightburn works well with SVG. Also notable that Cricut and Silhouette's software can import SVG, and you can cut balsa, matte board, cardstock, vinyl, and lots of rocketry related material with those.
FWIW, and probably not much, but I also use SVG most of the time. My wife has illustrator so usually whatever 3d modeling format I can find can be loaded into illustrator, or another tool to convert to SVG. One thing I often forget is since SVG is infinitely scalable, there's usually no reference dimension, so it'll get bigger and smaller depending on how you view it and not everyone shares 3d modeling files at 1:1 scale, so I like to always get one good reference dimension from somewhere or before converting to SVG, add a labeled 1"x1" square, or whatever size makes sense, before converting to SVG, then I scale the LightBurn project so the dimension or square is correct.
 
I use a laser cutter at a maker space. I cut CRs, fins, and any flat work. I use Inkscape, which is open-source. The output is SVG. I believe Lightburn will read SVG files. All of the dimensions are set in Inkscape. The learning curve is not as steep as CAD or CorelDraw. Anyway, there are lots of YouTube videos.

I use LightBurn to set 'feeds and speeds' for the cut. Once I have the job set, I save the LightBurn File. I can reuse it to cut parts as needed.
 
just a note about something I just remembered, here's a tool where you can upload an OpenRocket file and it will extract your fins and create .dxf files for you (doesn't work with elliptical fins yet however). From there you can import the .dxfs right into lightburn or other laser cutting tools and hit the Go button.

If there's interest I can add another feature to extract centering rings too

https://oakclifflaser.com/utils/openrockettools
 
just a note about something I just remembered, here's a tool where you can upload an OpenRocket file and it will extract your fins and create .dxf files for you (doesn't work with elliptical fins yet however). From there you can import the .dxfs right into lightburn or other laser cutting tools and hit the Go button.

If there's interest I can add another feature to extract centering rings too

https://oakclifflaser.com/utils/openrockettools
Is that your code?
 
I've been (slowly) working on an openSCAD/thingiverse customizer where you can just select the body tube vendor and then reference tubes and it will kick out CRs which you can export as whatever file type you want, but SVG and DXF etc will be scaled to size. For SVG that happens automatically when imported to LB (they use the mythical non-unit units that get treated as mm), not sure about DXF yet. Honestly, the only hard part is getting all the accurate tube IDs and ODs into openSCAD.

Something tells me someone has already done this, but it's good learning for me regardless. I started with rings I actually needed for tubes I had on hand to measure and the CRs fit like butter
 
I've been (slowly) working on an openSCAD/thingiverse customizer where you can just select the body tube vendor and then reference tubes and it will kick out CRs which you can export as whatever file type you want, but SVG and DXF etc will be scaled to size. For SVG that happens automatically when imported to LB (they use the mythical non-unit units that get treated as mm), not sure about DXF yet. Honestly, the only hard part is getting all the accurate tube IDs and ODs into openSCAD.

Something tells me someone has already done this, but it's good learning for me regardless. I started with rings I actually needed for tubes I had on hand to measure and the CRs fit like butter
the way you can parameterize openSCAD is really cool. I bet there's a way to make an openSCAD script available on the web. That way you could publish your scripts and then set the parameters and generate the model through a browser.

@bad_idea has done some pretty amazing things in openSCAD for 3d printing.
 
Honestly, the only hard part is getting all the accurate tube IDs and ODs into openSCAD.

Something tells me someone has already done this, but it's good learning for me regardless. I started with rings I actually needed for tubes I had on hand to measure and the CRs fit like butter
That is indeed the hard part. Like - I suspect - a lot of people, I have a spreadsheet of tube sizes, but it's taken from vendor sites, and vendor dimensions vary widely in their fidelity. Even those who have good dimensions may have wide tolerances. I find with 3D printing that I often need a test print or two to get dimensions nailed, and for laser cutting, I was in the habit of erring on the side that could be sanded back.

Measuring yourself like you do is best, but with the variation in tubes what works for you may not be feasible for someone else with a different example of the same tube, at least not if you want to run the tolerances tight and also don't want to have to sand down. Given we all have epoxy and sandpaper, this probably isn't as critical as the perfectionist side of my brain likes to think though. :)
 
The dimensions BMS have on their website have been very good for me, all my CRs fit perfectly. When I first started I was using the dimensions in RockSim for the tubes to make a tube sanding jig, and it all worked out well until I made one for a BT80. That's when I discovered the default value RockSim had was off by quite a bit.
 
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