Laser Cutting Guidelines

Laser Cutting Guidelines

The Macksteel team will do everything they can to make sure your laser cut parts are as accurate as possible. By following our below guidlines, we can make sure your parts are delivered quickly and accurately.

Best File Formats for Laser Cutting

We prefer vector files for laser cutting projects in the formats: Adobe Illustrator, EPS, DWG, and DXF. If you are not able to provide an original vector file we may be able to track down the file or a similar one. This process will add time and cost to the project. Below are vector files we can work with quickly.


Adobe Illustrator (.ai)

Auto Cad (.dxf)

CorelDraw (.eps)

Fusion360 (.dxf)

Inkscape (.eps)

SolidWorks (.dxf)

File Requirements

We’re here to help you every step of the way in designing your laser-cut parts. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Artwork should be correctly scaled. 

Please send your art over in the exact size you want it cut (1:1 scale) in Imperial Units (inches) when possible. While we can scale and adjust your files for you, it will add to the lead time and the cost of the project.


If you’ve converted your file from a raster file, please be sure to verify dimensions. Printing your design at 100% scale may help you confirm dimensions and scale.

Files should only contain your parts/cut-paths

To save time (and possibly money), be sure to remove any instructions, dimensions, notes, borders and unused objects from your file. You should only be sending us the actual cut-path that the laser should follow for cutting. Notes, quantities, etc. can be noted on a .pdf or .jpg print. We’ll contact you right away if we have more questions.

Files should not contain multiples of one part

We will arrange your parts in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces material waste. This process is known as “nesting”. Designers are often tempted to “pre-nest” their design, thinking that it will speed up the production process. However, this is more likely to complicate the cutting and impede our process. If you want to cut multiple copies of a single object, don’t crowd your design, just send us a drawing of one part and notate the requested quantity.

Convert all text to shapes/outlines

If your vector design has any “active” text boxes, the CNC software will not process it correctly. To include text in your cut, simply convert active text boxes into shapes or outlines, a process that is extremely easy to do in most design software.

Not sure if you have any active text boxes? Hover your cursor over the text, and if it is editable as text, then it needs to be converted into a shape. In Illustrator, this is called “converting to outlines.” In some CAD software, it might be called “explode” or “expand.” If your file slips through to us incorrectly we may need to have you confirm the font and approve a print.

Shapes and fonts/type should be stenciled.

As you can see in the below examples, all the shapes marked in red on the right will be lost because they are not connected to the outer shape. If that is intentional, that’s fine, just let us know your intentions. You can remedy this by creating “bridges” like you see on the example on the left. Think about your design as a stencil. This will reduce the number of “loose” pieces that would need to be considered during installation.

If you are fine with many small, loose parts, just let us know in your order notes and we’ll take care of it. We just want our customers to be prepared for the installation or mounting process. Our programmers will communicate these issues with you in a timely manner.

Shapes, holes, or cutouts are at least 1/2 material thickness

Holes or interior geometry that are smaller than 1/2 the thickness of your material are unlikely to be cut accurately by our lasers. This is because the laser “pierces” the material to begin cutting, which requires a certain diameter allowance for holes and other shapes. A safe rule of thumb for would be to keep all geometry greater than 1/2 material thickness.

Laser Cut Sign Design

Below are a few basic styles of laser cut signs to choose from.


"Negative" Graphics

Negative Graphics mean your type and logo are removed from the metal as shown below.

The key to keeping this design easy to install are the bridged letters and shapes. This sign will be very easy to install as it is one complete piece.

Positive Graphics

This style can be very difficult to produce and line up for installation. It is reccomended to produce a 1:1 scaled paper template, which we can also help you produce for installation of the sign.