How to work with Sketchup and a laser-cutter?

We have a laser-cutter / engraver. This is a 3D place but I cant find the Laser department.

How do we tell in Sketchup (Top-view) what part to cut and what to engrave? This is normally done with colors but I cant fint the correct option. Is there a document, explanation or YouTube that explains this?.

Lets say we make a chess board.

Step (1) We want to engrave the letters on the side and the black and white parts.
Step (2) the board must be cut out.
Step (3) export to a DXF and import into the laser-cut software
A lasercutter uses collors for cutting (red) and engraving (black)

If all you need to do is make some lines red to get the laser to recognize them correctly, just paint those edges and set the edges to show By Material in the Edge settings.

It might be worth pointing out that current laser software really only works in 2d while sketchup is about 3d.
You can export laser tracks by exporting 2d graphics as 3d model to use as .dxf with laser software.

We know that Sketchup is 3D. We also know that we kan draw in topview (2d drawing) and export it a an DXF file. But coloring the lines in Sketchup exported in a DXF only engrave and do not cut for some reason. It does not recognize the colors after export and import.

Now we need to use Inkscape, difficult software for kids.

Hope someone has a laser-cutter and knows what i’m talking about.

Draw the tracks on the red/green plane, and, as Box says, export via the File menu>Export>3D Model… option. That will export your circles and arcs as true AutoCad circles, whereas using the 2D export option, they will be split into straight line segments.


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Complaining about software doesn’t get answers, asking complete questions and explaining what you want to do will.

Oke that could be worth a shot. We had the feeling we needed to export in 2D because cutting and engraving is 2D. We will give that a shot. Thanks

U need to know that translating a technical question is hard. Using new software and hardware takes time. To get a good question it takes more questions to get clarity. So, pls understand it’s not complaining it’s not exactly knowing what the problem is or what the answer we get means. Pls be a bit patience.

We are very patient, but your second post on the forum, not in this thread was very negative, we have gone beyond that now.
We can now move onto ‘How do i do this’ rather than ‘Why doesn’t it do this’.

If I were to guess the laser software might be looking for AutoCAD layers to decide which lines get cut and which get engraved.

How about creating two dxf file? On one layer keep all the edges you want to cut and on another keep all the edges to engrave. Next, create two dxf files, one for each layer, by hiding the other, and then feed it to the laser cutter.

I recently laser-cut some pieces where I’d drawn the drawing in SketchUp. Been a few years since I last did this and then used Rhino or AutoCad. But this time when I used SketchUp it occurred to me that it’s actually quite fitting for drawing for laser-cutting - due to how SketchUp automatically merge geometry.

In other vector applications I used previously there was a constant issue of overlapping lines if you were not careful. But with SketchUp that’s pretty much non-existent as long as you don’t nest stuff inside groups/components.

Anyway, here’s the model:

While it’s not strictly necessary I prefer to turn on orthogonal camera and switch to top view.

I then set the Style to draw edges by material instead of the default:

This allows me to define colours for different cuts/engraving settings later on.

HexTiles-60mm.skp (177.1 KB)

Once it’s all drawn you need to find out what format the software for the laser cutter supports. You cannot print directly from SketchUp. There’s always some software that comes with the laser-cutter that knows how to talk to the hardware. Note that I exported in 3D - not the “2D Export” - because the “2D export” distorts things based on the view and doesn’t preserve scale. This also means you must be careful to ensure you draw everything flat in the model.

Often you can use DXF - which I did in this case:

HexTiles-60mm.dxf (475.6 KB)

Then the DXF file was transferred to the laser-cutter software and I set up what cut or engraving type I wanted to use based on the line colors.

You start the laser-cutter and sit back, make a cup of tea…


Hope this helps.


Yea, on some laser cutters you need to do it in separate passes. Extract the engraving in one file - run it, then load the cut lines and run that. I find many of the softwares that ships with laser cutters to be notoriously over-complicated and hard to use. You’d think that by now someone would have created a simple software front end to easily load vector files and pick the type of cut per color in a couple of clicks. Alas - I digress.

My software just takes the 3d .dxf and plots it. I can adjust it in various programs but if I want I can draw something in SU and export and laser cut.

Thanks Thomas,
This is very helpful, great article.

Thanks for your mail Thomas,

This is a great article to use !