What software is everyone using?

I’m not even going to pretend I get most of that, 3 days ago I considered myself a sharp guy, now…

So if I take a photo, convert to black and white then rasterize would that make it easier? No different? Worse? What do you guys do?


When you engrave there are basically three modes. One is dots such as you see in a newspaper photo that uses somewhat large dots or smaller ones seen in a magazine. This works best for raster style snapshots.

There is an alternative that is not dots but works very similarly concentrated in dark areas and spread out in light areas. both of those are called Dithering. The tile in this is such an image…

The border in that piece is vector images with the background cut out by a single depth engrave.

There is another system under engrave that is designed for more 3D cutting to various depths to get a carved shape such as this Lion…

Folks frequently think that deeper is darker but as you can see from this lion that is not the point.

Does it only work with the business version? I’ve been on Silouette for years and would love to combine/switch SVGs

Man this is rough, too many choices of mediums and the settings are ambiguous at best. SD/HD, speed, power, I just wish there was a guide. Like what’s the trade off for speed/power? Is one better for writing vs pictures, score vs engrave, anyone have a good printed guide for this stuff? I’ve searched and watched videos but everyone seems to have different settings they swear by for the same or very similar things…

Yes, you have to have the Business Edition to export SVG. But it also comes with some really helpful features. I love Nesting for when I need to create a bunch of items to maximize space.

I used this site to get a digital upgrade code for half price. They sent me the code within minutes and it worked great.

Swingdesign.com Instant Codes

There is. It’s this massive forum. Read read read and then read some more.

You can get started with the basics very quickly, but like any complex thing mastering it takes time and study.

Chances are if you’re wondering something it’s been answered here already search and explore, it’ll pay you back.

I would recommend starting here and just following every rabbit hole you can find:


Thanks a bunch! I ended up saving for the Glowforge because the Silhouette couldn’t do what I wanted!


For manual settings, it might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but I think the easiest way to explain and learn it is: Each material is going to vary so make sure you have some extra to test on. Many ways to test, but @evansd2 has provided a really good starting place with the thread linked below. Personally, I modify this one a bit depending on my project, but it’s the best way to see what settings will work best for each project.

Also, keep notes and a spreadsheet on settings-I have a spreadsheet with settings and notes for most of my ‘larger’ projects and as you build this up you’ll learn stuff too.

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I made a variation that has both engrave and cut examples on a really minimal amount of materials that are small enough to keep them all in a set as a reference that the direct data can be observed at any time…
evans tests

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AutoCAD here + Gimp when needed. There’s a few people here using CAD software and it works how I think, or maybe because I’ve been using CAD software so long I think like it works. Either way I double down on the comments here to pick something and invest in learning it. Makes all the difference.

If I was starting over I’d probably use Inkscape mainly because of the incredible and gracious community here who share tip after tip after tip with everyone. Ask a question and you’ll get 50 answers! Plus the search on the forums is your best friend - I think just about every question has been answered at least a few times.

Anyone comfortable with writing code should appreciate the straightforward approach of 100% free and open source OpenSCAD. They have excellent online help/examples.

It’s great for 3D design, and does a nice job of letting you go between 2D and 3D models in either direction. I have taken a lot of my 3D printer designs and converted them for laser without losing the ability to output STL and SVG files for either from the same design file. You can easily import SVG and DXF files for subsequent manipulation or incorporation into designs.

The only real weakness in terms of using it for laser design is that it is intended for defining solid 3D volumes or 2D areas, and isn’t really adept at creating open paths for scoring. In practice, I’ve not found this to be insurmountable.

For quickly creating dimensioned parts, I personally have not found a faster, more precise workflow.


LISP and Pseudocode absolutely. beyond that not so much,

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As long as you are comfortable expressing your ideas in writing, that’s the main point. OpenSCAD isn’t really a programming language, although it does allow you to structure your design using subroutines, loops, and named variables.

It is more important to understand basic graphical/geometric transformations, such as rotation, translation, and scaling. Extrusion and projection operations allow easy 2D <–> 3D conversions, and there are many advanced operations, such as creating hulls and minkowski convolutions. (This sounds fancy, but the examples make it easy to understand.)

You can also create parametric designs where critical dimensions can easily be plugged in to generate a particular set of output files for cutting or printing. You can also animate a design using a time parameter, and even export animations as individual frames (though not as a single movie file.)


Sometime back I bought into AVS and got a lifetime upgrade then available. It is very good for manipulating video or translating through various formats, also was able to do amazing things with sound. At that time all I needed was to rotate a video by 90 degrees and that was the only way I could find, but used it later to do much more.

I definitely need a program because I have Inkscape on my windows but can’t use that on my iPad. I’m looking to play around with fonts like you can in Inkscape on both windows and iPad. I have so much to learn yet am overwhelmed when I can’t find a program…

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