The technology has several benefits, including unmatched accuracy and consistency, with little room for human error. It is more efficient than methods such as etching and can also be used to achieve more complex designs.
Laser engraving is not manually controlled - it relies on laser cutting software that uses a CNC (computer numerical control) programming language such as g-code to indicate where the laser moves. Before the engraving process, you also need software to create and edit your designs, but how do you know which laser cutting and engraving software is right for you?
In this guide, we present the best software for laser engraving and the best software for laser cutting in 2022. We have free and paid solutions to suit different budgets, and we've reviewed key aspects of each software so you can easily choose the one that best suits your needs.
Best Free Laser Engraver and Cutter Software
Best for: Free laser cutter software for Windows
LaserGRBL is a very popular open source laser engraver software for Windows that is completely free to download and use.
Unlike some other software, LaserGRBL is designed for hobbyists, so it doesn't have the steep learning curve that comes with more professional programs. It is a simple and effective tool that is user-friendly and therefore ideal for beginners.
LaserGRBL has some very useful features, such as a jog function that allows you to manually position the laser head using two sliders to control the size and speed of the steps. There is also an override feature that allows you to speed up or slow down the effective engraving speed and laser power in real-time during the engraving process.
Another notable feature is the raster image import feature. With this, you can load any type of image including photos, clip art, pencil drawings and icons into LaserGRBL and convert it to g-code without any additional software.
Raster images are a different type of graphics than vectors used in most online laser engraving software. Vectors can be scaled up and down without losing quality, so they are used to cut material and engrave thin lines, while raster graphics are made up of small pixels and are used to cut and engrave larger areas. This means that the GRBL laser cutter software can be used for a variety of laser cutting projects.
This laser engraver software is compatible with GRBL v9.0 and GRBL v1.1. It is capable of loading and sending g-code to the Arduino, and you can also engrave images, pictures and logos using the in-house conversion tools.
Best Paid Laser Cutter and Engraver Software
Price: $30 for g-code license, $59 for DSP license
Best for: Laser cutting software for Mac
While laser cutter software like LaserGRBL is Windows-only, LightBurn is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, so anyone can use it. This is another well-known post-engraving software that can be used to layout, edit and control your laser cutter.
LightBurn has some very useful features that make it popular among laser cutters. For starters, it's a versatile software that allows you to easily import artwork in a variety of common graphic and image formats. It also supports most Ruida, Trocen, TopWisdom and g-code controllers, with more to be added soon.
CNC laser engraver software allows you to arrange and edit vector shapes using an editor, and you can even create new shapes with powerful features. These include offsets, boolean operations, welding and node editing.
You can also adjust power, speed, cutting order, brightness and contrast, number of passes, etc. while engraving.
LightBurn is an all-in-one laser engraving software because it allows you to send your designs directly to the cutting machine without the need for additional programs.
LightBurn offers a 30-day free trial that you can use to try out the software. Another benefit of using LightBurn is the active support forum where you can get help with any questions and discuss topics with other users. There is also a news section on the LightBurn website that provides updates on development and bug fixes.