Two Sided Jobs?

Coming from VCarve Pro and the CNC routing world, I routinely designed and made two sided projects. The software makes it easy to design and set up two sided jobs and I was wondering if LightBurn has similar features or plans to add them in the future.

If these features aren’t built into LightBurn, what do you all do to make it an accurate and efficient workflow?

LightBurn does not provide this “two sided project” automation in some tool as I think you are describing, no. But we do provide tools to assist this workflow. You can go after this from a few different directions, depending on your situation and requirements.

One way, the use of a placement jig or hold down for the material that provides a guaranteed registration. Once the jig has been set, work front side, then flip for back work, knowing the material is in the exact same location on the bed every time.

You can also mark the material with registration targets and have LightBurn adjust to those targets, registering the front and back work the same. Take a look at the ‘Print And Cut’ tool, Print and Cut - LightBurn Software Documentation

You can set the targets (cross-hair markers or some other shape) to burn all the way through, allowing you to use these original, front-side targets again once the material is flipped, from the back-side of the workpiece for alignment.

Here is a video showing how the 'Print And Cut’ tool works. This is mid-video for a different flow, but you will see how the process can be used to re-register everything to allow continuation of previous cuts.

And another, again a different flow, but showing how to use 'Print And Cut’ to tell LightBurn how a thing is registered, adjusting the machine job path to match that of the orientation of the material.

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I live in the VCarve Pro and CNC routing world. I routinely design and make two sided projects the same in VCarve Pro as I do in LightBurn. I utilize the machine’s coordinate system, origin, and a spoil board index.

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When I do a 2 sided job I just cut the original and a mirrored image. Then I flip the parts into the opposite pocket to cut the reverse side. Its actually pretty quick to do multiples this way also.

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Thank you very much, Rick! I appreciate you taking the time to go into this much detail. I’ll watch and learn the Print and Cut features and give it a try with my next two sided project.

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Thank you, Glenn! That’s a good idea. Especially when you have an asymmetrical part that requires a mirrored pocket and not the original cutout.

Thanks for the feedback, Jeff. Since you know VCarve well, I’ll clarify my question. Physically I know how to handle a two sided job, but what I wanted to know is if I can design a two sided job within one file and easily toggle between sides and organize my layers/toolpaths. Here are some screenshots from one of my VCarve jobs that makes this more clear for others to see. Here is me toggling between sides:

What’s really nice about the way it’s handled in VCarve is that I can easily see which elements are on the front side vs. back and can keep front vs. back layers/toolpaths organized.

For your two sided jobs in LightBurn, are you designing both sides in a single file or separate? If in a single file, do you have to manually toggle the output off on many layers when switching sides? Seems like it can get busy and confusing when everything is layered on top of each other. Would love to know how others do this within a high volume production scenario.

The way double sided work in VCarve Pro is managed has some nice features (particularly the ability to virtually flip the material while seeing the vectors through the opposite side and being able to snap to them). But I just never liked working that way.

You can imagine the length of discussion this topic can have considering all of the variables, personal preferences, machine capabilities, production volume, reliance on coordinate zeroing, etc. (lol and that is just on the milling side of it). Now stack on to this a laser machine (which I find to be much easier to work with for double sided jobs in a few key ways).

There’s also a fundamental difference for me as to how jobs are run VCarve to Mill vs LightBurn to Laser (but I could manage this the same). That is, with VCarve and those toolpaths, the post processor output GCode is saved to a file and that file is then loaded into Mach3 to run the job. So for your double sided mill work, you are saving top side and bottom side files individually and then running those when appropriate (depending on how you manage your indexing process).

Mostly, I run jobs to the laser directly from Lightburn to the controller (not using a saved file). But you can 100% go the route of saving a job file for each side and having that run in the same way you may for VCarve mill work.

The only real difference between the two apps is that VCarve provides a UI simulating the flipping process. The similarities that remain are choosing how you want to manage the flip and how you index the material to the machine coordinates.

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Oh and I owe you an answer for the following:

I put two sided jobs in one file. I use the “cut selected graphics” to target the side I am working with.

In the event the font and back are identical, you can consider making 2 objects at a time (could be 4, 6, 8, 10 etc…). One being the front, the other being the back. Run this job, then when the job is complete, flip everything in the index.

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I do lots of double sided projects and these are the tips i use to line them up.
Firstly if it is out of a piece of stock, i always make a box around my job slighlty bigger than the job. this means when you do one side you can just flip it in its own template, this is an easy one. I make a master file that has all the layers visible and to burn. I then make two otherverions, a side A nd Side B as I am always forgetting to toggle something on or off if I use the master file.
Next for items I will do one side now but then the other later (and I do this on first step but omitted for simplicity in explain).
I make 4 crosshairs targets, one for each corner of the job, just inside the box template done on first step. I make sure this burns all the way through. that way i can use print and cut to line it up later. But when i go to do the job, to help line it up i put a little tag of masking tape over the crosshair to make it easier to get the laser right target with a pulse, most of my jobs are black acrylic so a pulse dot is hard to see.
The last (and the easiest) is my quicktemplate method. I simply apply a few strips of masking tape to my cutting bed and cut the box outline on that, this leaves a simple positioning template on the laser bed and I just place the job on that and line is up with the line cut in the masking tape, simple but extremely effective for most jobs, the cheapest and quickest template I can make.

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I’ve tried using the “Print and Cut” method once but gave up on it. If your axis are not 100% perpendicular this will multiply the error.

My parts so far have been symmetrical, so turning them over in their pocket has worked very well for me.

Another technique I’ve been using relies on the engraving pattern for some parts not needing to be aligned with the cut. There I just engrave the complete backside with the repeating pattern and then cut from the front. Takes a bit longer as I also engrave the waste, but those parts are rectangular with cutouts, so it’s not that much. (Slot-together walls with a stone pattern and matching furniture pieces with a woodgrain pattern (oh the irony engraving wood grain onto wood…))

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Thank you Jeff, Cameron, and Henry! I really appreciate all of the details you provided. This is VERY helpful to me and I’m already trying out your techniques with some projects. :grinning:

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There are a couple ways to “switch” between sides.

Obviously, you can create the sides using different layers and turn the output for the layers on or off.

You can also move the side you want to burn/cut onto the work area and the other side off the work area.

Or the easiest way I’ve found is on the Laser tab you can turn on the option to only output the SELECTED VECTORS. Whichever side you want to output you select it…the other side isn’t selected. Then select the second side when you are ready to output it. If you group all the vectors for each side it is just one click to choose the side to output.

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Thank you for taking the time to share your workflow with me! I appreciate it. :slight_smile:

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