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Setting Up Your Design for Single Line Etching or Single Line “No Kerf” Through-Cuts

Single line etching with no kerf
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Here at SendCutSend, we have a few special services available for eligible laser cut materials – single line etching, and single line “no kerf” through cutting. 

In this guide, we’ll explain the characteristics and limitations of these services and how to set up your 2D vector file before placing an order so your parts can move into our production queue more smoothly. Designs with single line etching and no kerf cut features cannot be powder coated

Preliminary setup for these services is only possible in CAD programs. If you’re designing in Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, please leave a note before checkout indicating that parts in your order are in need of etching or no kerf cut features, and SendCutSend’s Support team will take care of it! However, we strongly recommend designing parts that require these special services in CAD programs such as Fusion 360, SolidWorks, or QCAD

Services

Single Line Etching

Single line etching is a service we can provide upon request for parts in the following laser cut materials:

Please note, single line etching has a faint appearance that is best suited for part numbers and crosshair markings, not cosmetic applications. 

Single line etching with no kerf

Also, if we etch a part, we won’t be able to deburr it since deburring will erase the faint etch. 

We have more information and examples of what to expect here: Single Line Etching – SendCutSend

Single Line “No Kerf” Through-Cuts

We can provide “no kerf” cut features upon request in any laser cut material

A single line “no kerf” through-cut refers to open cut geometry that will be the width of the laser’s cut path, because it does not form a closed shape. 

Because the shape is not closed, there will be no kerf compensation for the cut, hence the name “no kerf” cut. 

In the example below, the red paths are no kerf cuts. 

Example of no kerf cuts displayed by red lines

We have more information about kerf and kerf compensation here.

Pierce Points & Width

For single line no kerf cuts, there will be a visible pierce point where the laser begins the cut. For thinner materials the cut width is typically 0.008″ – 0.015″ wide, and the pierce point can be between 0.015″ – 0.030″ wide. 

For thicker materials between 0.375″ – 0.500″ the cut width can be 0.015″-0.040″ wide with a pierce point between 0.030″ – 0.080″ wide. 

Here is an example of typical pierce points:

Example of pierce points in laser cutting

Design Considerations

We cannot control where the laser will start each cut, so if you order the same part more than once, the pierce point locations can be different each time.

We’ll need a node/anchor point to separate the paths where they intersect with normal cut geometry such as the part profile, like this:

Example of no kerf nodes

As a rule of thumb, these cuts will need to be the Min Bridge Size apart for the material and thickness chosen. 

You can find the Min Bridge Size value for your material on the individual info page at our materials directory

A link to SendCutSend material pages on website

Once you’ve navigated to the specific material info page, scroll down to the Material Details section and click the desired stock thickness tab on the left. 

How to select material thickness on SendCutSend

With the correct thickness selected, scroll down to the Design Considerations, where you’ll see Min Bridge Size. This value represents the smallest wall thickness or material left between cutouts that we can cut cleanly and reliably. 

SendCutSend design considerations

The dimension shown below is an example of a measured “bridge” thickness. 

Example of bridge thickness

Setting Up Your Design


Essentially, you’ll need to move all normal cut paths onto one layer, and any etched or no-kerf paths onto a separate layer specifically named for the geometry required.

Then you’ll need to add descriptions to the line items in your cart that require single line etching or no kerf cuts, and leave a note before checking out indicating that items with descriptions are in need of special services.

Process

If your CAD program allows for layer creation and naming, you should be able to follow these steps. We also have a guide specifically for SolidWorks users who need to export a DXF with no-kerf cuts.

If your CAD program does not allow for flexibility with layer creation and naming, we recommend QCAD since it is a free, well documented DXF editor. We have a thorough guide explaining how to download QCAD, set up your workspace, and learn some of QCAD’s most useful features.

Once you are set up with your CAD program of choice, 

  1. Move all cut geometry to one layer and delete any superfluous layers
Single line etch laser gun setup step 1

2. Create a separate layer named SCS_SLE or SCS_NOKERF.
If your design includes both types of geometry, create both additional layers.


3. Move the paths to be etched or through-cut onto the SCS_SLE (single line etch) or SCS_NOKERF (through-cut) layer.

moving SLE kerf layers
SLE no kerf layer

4. Any text or numbers will need to be exploded or expanded into paths if they are not already.

For example, in QCAD, you can select a text object with the cursor (keyboard shortcut QQ) and then press XP twice to explode the text and convert it to paths.

Example of text object in QCAD

In QCAD, the Selection identifier in the Property Editor (GP) will also change from Text to Polyline.

Changing from text to Polyline in SLE

5. Once your design file has the geometry separated into the appropriate layers, you can save it and upload your drawing to SendCutSend’s instant quote tool

Placing Your Order

Checking the Preview

After uploading your files to our instant quote tool or your SendCutSend account, you can check to see if your files are set up correctly by viewing the 3D preview of your drawings. 

You can access this by clicking the preview image on each drawing.

How to preview your image in sendcutsend

If your design with etching is set up correctly, any SLE (single line etch) geometry will show as a surface feature in the preview. You can toggle the 3D switch at the bottom to see it.

Toggling to 3D in SendCutSend preview

If you set the no kerf file up correctly, the geometry will preview as through-cut features.

No kerf preview in SendCutSend

Add Item Descriptions

After clicking Add to Cart on your drawings and choosing materials and quantities, click the pencil for each line item with single line etching or no kerf geometry and Edit Item Description.

Reviewing your order in SendCutSend app

Simply put SLE, No Kerf, or SLE and No Kerf depending on the needed services for each line item.

Editing item description in SendCutSend app

Leave Order Note

Click Continue to proceed to the Billing & Shipping step. 

After adding your shipping info, leave an order note indicating that items marked SLE, No Kerf, or SLE and No Kerf are set up for those services.

Leave order note in SendCutSend

This will ensure that special attention is paid to your order. SendCutSend’s Support team will double check to make sure your files are set up correctly and receive the services you have requested. 

Once you’ve added the note, you can proceed to the final steps and place your order! If there are any questions or concerns, the Support team will be in touch to ensure we have all the details correct. 

A Fine Line

Whether you have a uniquely creative idea for no kerf cuts or need to differentiate identical parts in similar-looking materials with single line etching, these services can be great solutions to certain design problems. As soon as you’re ready to try single line geometry, upload your newest drawing to our website for a quote!

Pre-flight Checklist

Before you upload your design files, be sure to go through our pre-flight checklist:

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