Laser photo engraving requires careful control over the material and beam, so it’s best to invest in laser-specific software. The right laser engraving software is necessary for successfully marking a design onto your material.
This article provides a comprehensive list of software used in laser photo engraving machines. Laser engravers with nesting capabilities are different from those that only support graphic design, so be sure to read our dedicated article for more information.
LightBurn – Best for Various File Formats
LightBurn is compatible with Windows, iOS, and Linux operating systems. The software has a free 30-day trial period. The trial version allows you to learn the features before buying. It allows you to import quite a few popular graphic formats.
This includes *.AI, *.PDF, *.SVG, PNG, and JPG from other software programs. Examples of programs are Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop. You can use them on the laser engraver.
An excellent laser photo engraving machine creates vector shapes. It can perform boolean operations, welding, node editing, and offsetting. If you want further personalization, you can customize the settings of your machine.
There are three types of licenses; $40 for personal use, $100 for business use, and educational use at no cost.
Inkscape – Best for Design Tinkerers
Inkscape software is excellent for creating custom engravings. Then, export your design to your laser photo engraver machine.
This software simplifies making perfect rectangles, stars, and elliptical shapes. The text tool works well for adding names to plaques and blanks. Inkscape is available on Mac, Linux, and Windows devices.
Inkscape is a free, open-source alternative paid software. It constantly evolves and improves as laser engraving software. Also, this has customizable settings such as dithering.
One advantage of using laser engraving software is its scalable vector graphics (SVG). That means you won’t have to pay a royalty to anyone for their work if you create your designs with SVG.
CorelDRAW-Best for All Types of Designers
You can use CorelDRAW to create amazing outputs with your tablet or PC. These outputs include expert-looking layouts, vector photos, and text designs. This laser engraving design program provides three alternatives for usage:
- Essentials for students and novices,
- Standard for hobbyists and small businesses,
- Graphics Suite for professional
This software comes with all the tools needed to produce laser-engraved images. These tools are gradients, textures, patterns, colors, bevels, shadows, glows, and embossing.
Along with engraving support, CorelDRAW also has laser cutting capabilities. Each plan is compatible with laser engraving machines. This software lets you engrave, cut, etch, and print on paper or other materials.
SketchUp – Best for DIYers in a Budget
SketchUp is one of the most user-friendly laser engraving programs available. Many of the program’s features are simple to use, making it a breeze to create your concept. You can use the add-ons that come with your program to gain extra capabilities.
It is compatible with many file types. Plus, you can use it with free 3D components and visualizations. Most importantly, SketchUp is free software.
Besides, the program is highly compatible with many laser engravers available. Since it’s free, tools are limited. Although limited, you can still do many designs. Send these to the marking machine and get a professional-looking engraved output.
Adobe Illustrator – Best For Vector Illustrations
Adobe Illustrator comes with a free trial and costs $20.99 per month on a subscription basis after that. You may combine it with other Adobe programs for combo deals. But Illustrator is effective as a stand-alone program for creating laser engravings.
You can create logos, icons, and other forms or import your own fonts. Through this laser engraving photo software, you develop distinctive logos, photos, and graphics. It works with both Windows and Mac OS iOS systems, and there’s a certain variant for iPads.
Artboards setup is another aspect of Illustrator. This setup makes it a unique program for laser engraving. It is where you arrange your designs and see how they fit on your preferred materials.
So, you’ll be laser engraving and cutting in no time.
Images are different examples of what laser photo engraving software can do
LaserWeb 4 – Best Laser Engraving Software For Beginners
LaserWeb 4 is a free program allowing you to manage your laser marking machine according to your design.
It is useful in importing many files in a variety of formats into the same project. So, this photo engraver program is versatile and ideal for teamwork.
Its biggest advantage is the job cost estimator tool. This tool is very useful for budgeting. Something that is especially crucial for beginners and amateurs.
You can control your laser photo engraver using both vector and raster files. This control is perfect for tiny and large projects. You may also adjust various aspects of your engraving. These aspects include pass depth, cut rate, smoothing, and diameter.
DraftSight – Best for 2D Designs with Lines and Sharp Edges
DraftSight is ideal for editing the image you want to post to your laser photo engraving machine. An interesting feature is the conversion function. It converts a BMP, JPEG, or PNG picture into simple lines, bends, and angles. So, the engraver machine can imprint a pattern without redoing it.
Within the print settings, DraftSight includes a “hairline” option for line width. This is particularly useful for laser engravers and cutters. Through this setting, laser engravers can make use of a single laser pass to burn your design.
For example, the laser printer is set for color mode (CMYK). With DraftSight, you can change the setting to laser engraving mode (only one laser color). This is critical.
Remember, light passes through the laser at different angles depending on its wavelength. So, laser engravers can’t use CMYK mode.
TurboCAD – Best for Cleaning Up Designs
TurboCAD has all the basic features making laser cutting and engraving. It’s not a cheaper AutoCAD imitation.
A tool in the TurboCAD removes overlapping arcs and lines from a design. This removal process cleans up a vector drawing for a laser cutter or engraver machine. It also eliminates overlaps and keeps track of what you change with its event viewer.
TurboCAD is compatible with laser engraving machines. With this program, you can laser engrave drawings directly from the electronic file. As soon as your laser photo engraver is ready, all you have to do is hit print. Then, select TurboCAD’s laser engraving option.
You can laser engrave any vector or raster files that are compatible with your laser engraver. These files include JPEGs and laser-ready TIFFs.
TurboCAD is not free software but it’s also not very expensive. If you’re just looking to laser cut for fun, try this if this is the right software for you.
LaserGRBL – Best Free Software for Engraving
LaserGRBL is a free Windows G-code generator for laser cutting and engraving. It’s compatible with GRBL, an open-source motion control firmware for laser machines.
The program is quite lightweight. You don’t need special hardware except for the operating system.
The user interface is simple and clutter-free, allowing you to create personal buttons. It also produces G-code for cutting and engraving in the same software as well as control.
Despite its usefulness, the real number of applications utilizing LaserGRBL is somewhat short. The laser engraving machine is usually sold.
You rarely find an engraving device bundled with the best laser engraving software. There are some noteworthy exceptions. All you have to do is ask us if some of our machines have free laser control software.
EzCAD – Best Open-source Engraving Software
EZCAD is a paid, open-source Windows laser engraving program. You can use this software for different kinds of laser engraving machines.
Through this program, instruct these machines to print a predetermined pattern onto a chosen substance. To import preexisting designs, you can use various file types such as BMP, GIF, ICO, JPG, PCX, PNG, SVG, TGA, and TIFF.
The software offers an extensive amount of laser variables. Using this program, you can alter any vector graphic to create your desired outcome. EZCAD is compatible with most laser photo engraving machines. It supports up to 256 Layers of Pens.
EZCAD is a laser photo engraving software used to alter laser different parameters. Plus, you can import images and control laser power.
Different materials require various and appropriate engraving settings
How to Choose the Right Laser Engraving Software
Lasers can also engrave real photographs. This procedure necessitates a good deal of trial and error to get successful results. The most effective method to get a successful print is by testing.
Also, you need to change the picture in various ways using editing software such as Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator. Familiarize yourself with the settings of the laser engraving machine.
So, how do you choose the best laser engraving software?
Know how a laser engraver works
Of course, you should know the capabilities of your laser engraving machine. Having the greatest editor and design software is useless if you can’t understand how an engraver works.
The laser cutter or engraver vaporizes a material’s surface with the use of high heat, leaving a cavity. Depending on the settings, the laser can cut through a material.
You can use different settings to come up with the most complex designs. For example, grayscale design is perfect for relief engraving.
Understand the differences between engraving files
Raster and vector files are two major classifications of engraving files. You can use these two on laser marking or engraving. But, the appropriate use of files yields the best results.
You should choose a raster format for images, stamps, and letters if these are from a camera. If you’re engraving lines and edges, vector files are most appropriate to print your products.
Different Materials, Different Engraving Settings
Laser engraving is a complex process. You should account for materials such as wood, copper, acrylic and the conditions surrounding them.
For example, titanium recoils from laser beams at first. This seems counterproductive. But the recoiling effect can be beneficial often. Lasers have better precision when you use less heat distortion close to the target area.
But with engraving software, you can tweak the settings to get the best results.
If you choose the best laser engraving software, it would be something that helps you achieve the highest quality of engraved images.