Can I design detailed things in light burn? (school teacher)

Greetings,
I am a special needs school teacher in AZ. We have a small laser running light burn. I’ve taught my students and myself the basics.

Please excuse the ignorance as I’m not exactly sure how to phrase this question.

Is light burn capable of designing detailed measured objects? I can create a box or circle with exact dimensions. What I can’t figure out is how to add specific measures straight lines or place objects a specific measured distance to or from one another.

At my last school one of my genius students designed this radio at home in his spare time. Is light burn capable of designing things like this? If so, can someone point me to some resources or tutorials so I can understand it and teach it to my students? If light burn won’t do this, is there a simple program that does?

Thanks,

Tom

This is well within LightBurn’s capability to do. LightBurn is particularly good at geometric designs. Where it will have more of a challenge is in very organic shapes or in highly technical designs with complex parts or constraints.

I’m not familiar with any specific guide for making such designs but most of this is just building up core skills and applying them incrementally.

For something like this the core features to look at:

  1. Use of Numeric Edits toolbar for fine control of dimensions and shape placement. However, keep in mind that the relative size of things is more important than the absolute size unless you need the parts to interact with external standardized parts (e.g. bolt sizes). Numeric Edits - LightBurn Documentation (lightburnsoftware.com)
  2. Align and Distribute tools in the Arrangement Toolbar - this allows you to precisely line up shapes or have shapes evenly distributed between two end shapes - Arrangement Toolbar - LightBurn Documentation (lightburnsoftware.com)
  3. Alignment guides allow for quick alignment of shapes - LightBurn Tips - LightBurn Documentation (lightburnsoftware.com)

Some other tips:

  1. You can use arrow keys to move shapes a known consistent distance. This can be used to quickly and reliably move shapes away from one another at a known distance.
  2. Use object snapping to quickly and precisely position shapes next to other pieces. Snapping Tool - LightBurn Documentation (lightburnsoftware.com)
  3. Create temporary shapes the size of the spaces between parts. By placing these temporary shapes next to a permanent shape, it’s easy to position adjacent shapes by using object snapping to snap to the temporary sizing shape.

For the radio example, I’d suggest starting by creating the main large rectangular areas that make up the entire face, then filling out each rectangular area with the detail. This way you’re working from overall to detail.

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Lightburn should be capable of doing above.
One of the biggest reasons I purchased Lightburn was for the CAD.
Otherwise, you end up working with something like Inkscape, and for me it Inkscape is intimidating to try and use. It is more capable of doing complex projects.
You aren’t going to find a “simple” program that does complex projects.

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I agree with the others that it’s possible with LightBurn. But if you have a complex design with many constraints (like defined distances between objects), I would prefer a CAD tool like Fusion 360, Sketchup or Tinkercad (the latter maybe being the easiest for a start). LightBurn has the ability to put objects at specific places, but you can’t add constraints like a specific distance between two objects if they aren’t grouped. So if I have a design like a mounting plate with many screw holes, I always use a CAD tool and import the result back to LB.

I think it depends on your level of design skills, and what would give you the best “bang for your buck”. I work a lot with a program called Cuttle

It has a lot of templates that are pretty easy for anyone to use. Your students could easily create different things like ornaments, keychains etc that they can personalize. The files can then be exported to SVG, and imported into Lightburn.

Lightburn can easily create your example, but not everyone will grasp the concepts of how to do it. That’s why a program like Cuttle is nice for everyone. Pick the template you want, key in a few variables, and export a SVG.

I know that Cuttle has special pricing for schools.
Keychain - Tom

While it’s true that Inkscape may have a bit of a learning curve in order to get really good at it, I personally would highly recommend it. It has everything you need to do designs like the radio, and it’s much more powerful than LightBurn when it comes to the design aspect of the workflow. There are lots of tutorials online for the more esoteric bits if you want to build your skills. It’s also free software, so you’ll never run into any licensing issues – you can use it in the classroom, your students can use it at home, and I can use it commercially, all with no limitations.

Once you have your designs in Inkscape, you can just save them as SVG and then bring that into LightBurn to continue the workflow. Caveats are the usuals, e.g. if a student makes a design at home using a font they downloaded from the Internet that isn’t on your Lightburn computer, it won’t render properly – I personally save two copies, one is the “source” SVG with all the text objects as text, and one is the “burn” SVG, where I select all and convert to paths (so the text objects are just shapes). Honestly, Inkscape+LightBurn is my bread-and-butter laser workflow.

For you in particular, I would note that in both Inkscape and LightBurn, one of my favorite bits of usefulness is that the text boxes for both locations and dimensions (e.g. X, Y, width, height) understand math. You can type “253.647+25.4*4” into the coordinate box. Align the objects, then add “+25” in the box and hit enter. Now you’ve got them precisely 25mm apart.

(Obviously, I work exclusively in mm in my designs, as it just makes life better, but I hold nothing against my fellow Americans who might not even own a single metric tape measure. :innocent:)

One way I do this is to align the pieces along their left, right, top or bottom depending where I want to move the other object; then you set your General Lightburn Settings of the desired Shape Move Increments to the desired settings, and then use the arrow keys to move the object the specified amount.

Another way would be to make a box the dimension that you want to space two objects between and make sure snap to objects is turned on. Then you can always change the dimension of the box and use it as your ruler for other objects.