We purchased the Glowforge Pro yesterday and are super excited to start working with it!
I am looking to use it to assist in creating 1/50 scale structures. I was wondering if any of you have recommendations for good design software that will work on a Mac? I have been searching the forums slowly but surely and there is a TON of helpful information we have found so far.
Glad to be a member of the group!
Jeff - MaysDiecast
Inkscape is typically the free go-to program. It is a bit of a pain on a Mac (it runs as a program inside XQuartz). The next version of Inkscape is supposed to run natively in Mac.
Affinity Designer is probably the most bang for the buck. They are kind of the new kid on the block. I don’t use it, but I understand it is pretty user-friendly. As far as generating laser-ready files, it can basically do what Illustrator does.
Which brings us to Illustrator, which is pretty much the choice for the professional design world. It’s a subscription model. Designing for laser cutting uses only about 1% of what the program can actually do.
CorelDraw is coming out (or just came out with?) a Mac version, the first in a long time. It’s popular with other laser cutters and the Windows community.
For 3D designing, Fusion360/F360 is pretty widely accepted here. That might make sense with some of the models you’re building.
Some good answers given you already, so I’ll just add–welcome to the forum! You are going to have a blast with your Pro.
Welcome to the group!
JB beat me to it, but you can’t go wrong with any of the above. Once caveat is that Affinity Designer doesn’t have an Auto-Trace function yet, and more support is available for Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator, so those are more likely to have folks available to answer any questions quickly.
What JB said.
Welcome. I look forward to seeing your creations once you get forging.
Thanks for all the replies so far, guys! I current have Adobe Illustrator on our PC and have been playing with it a bit with beam sizes, shapes, etc…
This will probably sound dumb, but if I create a square showing 2" x 2" in illustrator, will it print an actual 2" x 2" square on the GF Pro?
Another question is how does one create the template size to make sure the prints will fit on the printing material and not be too large or small? We are primarily planning to use 1/8" thick 12" x 20" MDF boards.
Thanks for the help!
It will print 2" x 2" less the kerf, which is caused by the beam eating away about a hair’s width of thickness.
And since I also use AI, I just set up a 20" x 12" sized artboard and design on that. When you start a new file, it defaults to the last one you used, so it’s been that way for a couple years now.
The current cuttable area of the bed is roughly only 19.45" x 10.95" though, with slightly less available for engraves depending on speed, so you either want to leave yourself a little margin, or you can set your artboard up to match the smaller size if you prefer. (I just remember.)
Have you ever found a need to adjust for kerf? I was thinking 0.1mm at most.
Forgot to mention one software option, if you are making structures. You can use an architectural design program like Home Designer Suite by Chief Architect. It is available for both Mac and PC, and will output a flat design of a building model that you can laser cut. I believe you can specify the floor thickness and the scale so the model layout will match your material thickness. I used the 2015 version to create this model:
Welcome to The forum. The answer is yes or no. To the naked eye it’s going to be 2 inches by 2 inches. But technically you have to subtract the width of the laser, which can vary, but it’s like 0.009". Maybe someone else will chime in with a better explanation
Rarely. For some things like getting a tight fit for inlays, it can come in handy. And there are methods of reversing the design and using the kerf profile slant to your advantage there.
For construction, you can add Dan’s “teeth” to the file and make it fit tightly, so I find I’m using that more now than making outright kerf adjustments.
I think I’m in the small minority using AutoCAD here, but I’m slowly learning Illustrator.
It would seem that there are two different takes on vector work. One is all about straight lines and precision, aimed at architects and engineers and does really great geometry, but not so great at squishy things like organic vines and flowers, people monsters, and animals. The other, Primarily aimed at Commercial Artists, does squishy things great nice spirals etc but precision rectangles parts etc not so much.
If you want to do Architecture stuff on a Mac then Chief Architect is most commonly used. Adobe started on Apple products and is most native to that,
In free software, Apple tends to get the “hand me downs” after Linux and Windows have outgrown them; but Inkscape and Gimp are the tops especially if your Mac can pretend to be windows.
Welcome to the forum / GF ownership!
I have used Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator (AI) for most of my needs. I prefer AI because it’s a pretty polished/finished product. I am using CSS 6 so it’s an older version. The only problem I have with it is when I want to use the text tool, for some reason my Mac slows down really bad when I go to type something. It’s probably a bug.
I also have some experience with CAD tools (Open SCAD and Fusion 360) which can be helpful as well. Others have chimed in about Affinity Designer, which I think is promising but it has a few missing features that I use frequently (like the live tracing). Inkscape is a nice free alternative to AI, but the version that I have doesn’t seem to work very well on the latest version of the Apple OS. I get warning pop ups and I just don’t use it because I’m afraid something isn’t going to work right. After doing a quick google I think it might be because Inkscape is 32 bit software. Probably not an issue.
Searching the forum doesn’t yield the search I thought!
ROFL! Sorry that’s just my name for it…it’s called…oh crap! Now I can’t find it…hang on…
(Dan’s teeth is easier than “serrated tabs”.)
Thank you! I’ve bookmarked that as well… OrthoDantist?
Disagree. I use kerf adjustment anytime I’m assembling stuff like boxes or geometric constructions. I have degrees of adjustment that I call “easy glue fit”, “tight glue fit”, and “friction fit”
For most woods the adjustment numbers are roughly 0.005”, 0.006”, and 0.008” respectively. At 0.008 or so you’ll assemble with a hammer and never get it apart without breaking it, without any glue. The trade off is that it’s much more difficult to assemble.
Any time I adjust by 0.004” or less the fit is too loose to hold together as I assemble the parts without complex and unwieldy clamping solutions.
So. Is kerf adjustment necessary? No. Do I recommend it strongly to get a truly excellent fit? Absolutely.
I’d just like to add that onshape is a great online resource if you don’t plan to sell your designs and are more used to Solidworks type 3D modeling.
And also welcome to the forum, it’s a great place to be
Just a welcome. Hope to see your models soon.