Monport Lasers with LightBurn Software
Ever dreamt of adding a laser engraver to your wood shop or craft space? A Monport laser is exactly what you are looking for; with several different sizes, customizable for your needs! Our lasers use LightBurn software for a user-friendly experience in layout, editing, and controlling your laser with ease. Whether you choose a 40 Watt laser, 150 Watt laser, or anything in between, LightBurn control boards are installed or available for ease of use for all laser operators. Read below for more information on using LightBurn within your Monport Laser!
Starting a Project in LightBurn/Best starting point on laser bed
Monport lasers are connected to LightBurn via USB cable. Users need to go through the initial setup process to get their laser to connect to LightBurn. After, designs are sent to the laser from LightBurn through the USB cable. Once the project has been sent to the control board of the laser, the USB cable can be disconnected if needed. When using your laser with LightBurn, there are several options for where your laser cutting and engraving can begin. You first must set where your job origin will start. The two most used coordinates are Absolute Coordinates and Current Position. The easiest option to with Monport lasers is Absolute Coordinates. The page grid you see in the main editing window represents your machine's work area. Anything you place in that area will be cut in the corresponding place on your machine. The second most used coordinate is Current Position. The job cuts relative to the current position of the laser head when the user hits the Start button. The user would then use the "Job Origin" control in the Laser window to tell LightBurn how to position the job relative to the laser. When using a Monport Laser, LightBurn sets and shows the limit of the laser bed, will not allow you to run the project with it outside those limits. This allows for less errors and projects being cut off from being outside of the laser bed limits, which wastes both materials and time!
Choosing from a Variety of file types
While using LightBurn with your Monport laser, you will be able to import a variety of common vector graphic and image formats (including AI, PDF, SVG, DXF, PLT, PNG, JPG, GIF, and BMP). Having the ability to use multiple file formats gives the user ultimate flexibility while learning their new laser. LightBurn allows users the flexibility to adjust settings for the perfect engrave. Power and speed settings allow each user the flexibility to modify the shade of the engraving. With just a few clicks in LightBurn, users can choose a lower power setting for a light engrave, or a higher setting for a darker engrave. When engraving photos, such as PNG, JPG, and BMP, users first scale their photo to a desired size. They then click on the photo layer in cuts/layers portion in LightBurn. There are several imaging modes that allow the user to see the dithering sample to show how their picture will be engraved. The preloaded image modes are Threshold, Ordered, Atkinson, Dither, Stucki, Jarvis, Newsprint, Halftone, Sketch, and Grayscale. These options allow a user to engrave a photo without having to do editing of the photo beforehand. Setting the line interval, or how many lines of engraving are completed in a desired amount of space, will help create an accurate depiction of the desired photo.
Color Palette and Operational Order
Another feature that LightBurn uses that is useful for Monport lasers is the color palette. The color palette is used to assign and order and operation to each part of a design. If you have a part of your design highlighted, and a color is selected, that color will be assigned to that operation. The numbers on the color palette within LightBurn range from 00 to 29 and also have Tool Layers numbered T1 and T2. These two colors are used for creating non-output shapes in your designs. If different portions of a design are required to be different shades of engraving, they can be differentiated by color, with different powers and speeds. This not only allows for various shading in a design, but allows for sections of an engraving to be skipped all together if need be. If a section is engraved and the user is not happy with the results of the color or depth, they can rerun the same layer again to darker or deepen it. The order of the colors listed in the cut/layers section is the order the action will happen in Monport lasers. This makes it easy for a step to be skipped or repeated if needed. For items that have different depths in the same material piece (a bowl with a lip, etc.), the laser bed can be adjusted up and down during the sequence of colors in the cut/layers group. These different layers would be color coded in different colors, to give time for the laser bed to be adjusted appropriately for the focal point of your laser.
Camera or No Camera that is the Question!
A great characteristic of using LightBurn with your Monport laser is the ability to position your laser exactly where you want to engrave a word or image on a project without worrying about it being off-centered or misaligned. The framing tool can be used to outline the entire project or an entire section of a project so the user can see exactly where the laser beam is set to cut or engrave. This alleviates the need to have a camera installed on your laser. If a camera is desired, Monport Lasers allow you to add a camera through LightBurn. To do so, you would look in your device settings, basic settings, and must know your working area of your machine. A camera should be fixed above the machine in the center of its working area. The camera settings allow you to set and shows the limit of the laser bed, and projects will not allow you to run outside of those limits. After camera lens calibration is complete, you are able to watch your project, and align your designs as needed.
Raster/ Vector Engraving
Engraving a portion of a design can be done by setting a section to fill. This is often called Raster Engraving. This is done by the laser head moving left to right across a print area until the entire image is completed. A vector cut or score (depending on the speed and power) is the laser tracing the lines of the cut or shape. As a result raster engraving take a lot longer than vector cuts and scores. The s value max is a setting you may see in LightBurn while using Monport Lasers. This setting is the number that corresponds to one-hundred percent power in LightBurn. GRBL defaults to zero to one thousand for newer versions of GRBL, or 0 to 255 for older ones. LightBurn also has a trace option for images that are not yet in vector format. This allows each user to adjust the coloring of the uploaded photo to trace the image. Once a variation of an image is perfected and traced, it can be used in vector format to be engraved or cut. Traced vector images can be engraved as is, or cut and engrave lines adjusted to be added to another piece.
Ultimate Text/font Options with Monport lasers
Being able to work with multiple fonts in your project is an added benefit. When you download and install a new font on your computer, you will have access on it on LightBurn as well! If you do not immediately see your downloaded font, you will need to save any open projects, close, and reopen LightBurn for them to load into your font list. Once you have chosen a font, you are able to modify it to fit your project needs. The text tool allows you to create text on the screen, or edit existing text by clicking within it, change font and size, alignment, and spacing, and enable and disable automatic welding. Single line fonts are also available within LightBurn, but are not preloaded. They must be searched for and downloaded, but several are available for free. Once they are downloaded and installed into LightBurn, you can see them designated by a SHX logo in the font dropdown list.
How to use Lightburn
- Add the laser to the software
The software cannot control every laser, but can communicate with many different types of laser controllers, all of which use different communication methods and have different functions and settings.
This step tells you what you have.
If you configure your device from no software, it will automatically bring you here when you run the software. It's important to choose something because the interface in the software changes depending on the capabilities of the laser you choose.
If you have done this before but want to change the laser or add a new laser, click the Devices button in the Laser Window to display the list of devices.
The software can also be configured to control multiple lasers, and settings are stored for each device. If you don't select either, we have nowhere to put these settings, and many features in the software won't work until they're set.
You will see a list of all laser devices in "Device" page of the software that have been added to the software, or an empty list on first launch.
The easiest way is to click Find My Laser and let the software try to figure out what you have. If that doesn't work, either your laser is ethernet connected, or you have a Marlin device, you need to use "Manual Create".
- Find My Laser
Make sure your laser is powered on, connected to the computer via a USB cable, and has completed any boot sequence it needs (such as homing). When the laser is ready, click Next.
After a brief scan, the software will list the devices it is able to recognize:
Is your laser a GCode or DSP device? What if you can't find it?
If you have a GCode controller, you will be asked if your computer is an X-Carve or Shapeoko, as some specific settings need to be configured for these computers. If you have one, click the appropriate button, if not, click Other. You may be asked where your computer came from and if you want to go home when it starts up. Almost all GCode systems use the front left as the origin.
If your machine has a homing or limit switch, enable homing at startup, otherwise turn it off. If you see "Error: 9" in the console later, you have this feature enabled, but the computer is not configured to be homeable.
For some GCode devices, additional configuration of the software or controller may be required.
If you have a DSP controller, the next screen will ask you the country of origin of the machine. This is the corner to go through to find the home switch when the machine is turned on. Click the home corner. If you get it wrong, things can go backwards or upside down, but don't worry, you can easily change it later.
After adding the laser, click OK on the Devices page to exit.
What if I can't find my laser?
If the software cannot find your laser, it may be due to several reasons:
Missing driver - if your laser came with its own software, please install it. Even if you don't plan to use it, sometimes they contain necessary drivers that the software doesn't come with.
Can't connect - only one app can talk to your laser at a time. If you run other software such as RDWorks, Easel, Carbide Create, AutoLaser, LaserCAD, etc., make sure that software is not running.
Networked Devices - LightBurn cannot automatically configure networked lasers. To do this, you have to click on 'Create manually' and follow the steps.
Marlin Controllers - If you're using Marlin controllers, they have a variety of baud rates and configuration options, and they take much longer to reset than most other controllers, so they are automatically searched for and Not realistic - click "Manual Create" and follow the steps.
- Manually add laser
If the software cannot add the laser automatically because it is not connected to a computer or is connected via a network, you can click Manually Create on the Devices page.
The software will open the "New Device Wizard" and you will first see a list of controllers supported by your version of LightBurn:
Select the entry that matches the type of controller or firmware in your laser and click Next.
Use Monport with LightBurn for the BEST Experience!
The preview button allows you to see the estimated time for project to finish and how much of that is cut time and how much of it is rapid movement. This allows you to arrange and rearrange colors in your cut and layer section, to best arrange the order for most efficient cut time. Monport Lasers prides itself with being the most adaptable laser company in the business! Our use of LightBurn keeps us on the leading edge of productivity and production! LightBurn software is an application that can be used for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, so no matter what operating system you have on your computer, you will be able to install and use LightBurn. After learning the basics of the software, each user has the ability to research and learn more advanced topics to exemplify their Monport Laser experience! This enables your experience with Monport Lasers to be limitless!