Laser cutters and engravers are essential tools for any maker, manufacturer, and hobbyist. Finding the right software is crucial for getting the most out of your machine. While out-of-the-box manufacturers’ laser cutting software may work for basic needs, it’s often cumbersome, slow, and difficult.
This is where Lightburn enters and shines with its simplicity and ease of use. Lightburn is a one-stop shop for your laser cutter’s layout, editing, and control software needs. The ability to edit and design within the controller software is a game-changing feature.
However, Lightburn also offers a few additional worthwhile features. Below, we’ll dive into the seven reasons laser cutters love Lightburn software.
From its user-friendly interface (Mac OS, Windows, Linux-compatible) to its wide range of features and compatibility with various file formats, Lightburn has something to offer for every laser cutter.
1. Beautiful and Simple Interface and Native Design Features
When you first open Lightburn, you’ll quickly notice its beautiful and user-friendly interface. You’ll notice familiar features if you’ve used RDWorks, the default software for the popular RuiDa laser cutters.
However, the menus and settings on Lightburn come with far clearer explanations and a simplified configuration.
The software also offers additional features to optimize and remove barriers to your workflow. You’ll appreciate the native ability to create and edit simple graphics within the software. Importing vectors and images and editing them directly within the software is also a breeze.
While not as robust as Adobe Illustrator for design, the software is scattered with helpful UI features that make designing simple shapes and grids quite easy. You don’t need to jump back and forth between design software and laser software for simple designs.
2. Lightburn Is Very Fast and Responsive Software
Lightburn also outshines its competitors with its incredible responsiveness and speed.
Complex designs and vector files with thousands of nodes load faster than other software. Scrolling is also smoother when handling complex shape files such as maps or other complicated patterns.
You can view a speed comparison between Lightburn and RDWorks here.
3. Support of Many Laser Printers and File Formats
Lightburn is designed to work with a wide range of laser cutters. It currently supports Ruida, Trocen, TopWisdom, and GCode-based controllers, including Grbl, Smoothieware, Grbl-LPC, and Marlin.
It supports most Gcode, Ruida, Trocen, and TopWisdom controllers.
Another helpful feature is the ability to import a wide array of common vector graphics and image formats (e.g., AI, PDF, SVG, DXF, PLT, PNG, JPG, GIF, and BMP).
4. Fully Functional 30-day Free Trial and Pricing
For the latest prices, check out the manufacturer’s pricing page. As of this writing, a single-user GCode (commonly used in 3D printers, home-built CNC machines, and kit-style or DIY lasers) lifetime license key costs $60. You can always use the same software version for life, but additional updates once your yearly license expires will cost you $30.
For industrial-grade machines with DSP controllers, the cost jumps to $90. To add a fiber or Galvo laser license costs an additional $90. However, the great thing about the software is that you can run multiple instances of the software if you are connected to two different devices and jump between them to save time.
However, before you invest in the software, there’s a fully functional (no restrictions) 30-day trial available from the software maker. They’re confident that you’ll like the software once you try it.
5. Clear Video Tutorials, Responsive Developers, and Frequent Updates and Patches
Another thing we love about Lightburn is the clear and comprehensive video tutorials available online. First-time makers and hobbyists may find the software daunting, but Lightburn’s tutorials are great for first-time users. They offer videos and walk-throughs to create simple projects and to learn about cut settings, text features, offsetting, image tracing, snapping, etc.
The developers are also very active on YouTube, Reddit, and other user forums. New features and suggestions from users are often incorporated. You can also reach out for feature suggestions and other issues.
Updates and patches are also available regularly, so you can ensure that new goodies and support for more devices will be available.
6. Built-In Cut Optimization Settings and Cut Libraries
Another killer feature experienced laser cutters will love is the built-in cut optimization features. This software feature allows you to optimize certain cut settings, such as the ability to cut inner shapes first, cut in direction order, reduce travel moves, remove overlapping lines, etc.
For example, if you’re printing an array or grid of boxes of stickers or keychains, the process can be quite time-consuming, taking up to 15 minutes. However, with the cut optimizations feature, such as “remove overlapping lines” turned on, you can cut the engraving time in half.
Another great feature the software offers is the cut libraries, which quickly apply optimal settings based on common materials such as acrylic, plywood, paper, etc. These presets are great for hobbyists who work with multiple materials.
7. Camera Feature and Preview
Lightburn also supports installing a simple fisheye camera to the laser bed, allowing you to preview the cutting on the materials used in the software. They also offer a Lightburn camera on their website for $80.
The camera feature is great for saving materials, as it precisely calibrates and aligns the material based on what the camera captures and projects in the software. The camera allows you to save on material costs and waste by precisely showing your cuttings, allowing you to use all materials without waste.
We also love the ability to preview any job in the software to determine the cutting order and amount of time to do a job.
These and other features not only help you save time but also save you on costs. If you do a lot of laser cutting and engraving, the cost savings on materials will pay off in the long run for the software costs.
Lightburn is the gold standard for laser cutting software for amateur DIYers without jumping into more expensive, overkill industrial-grade software such as DraftSight. It offers a wide range of features summarized below:
- Lightburn’s user-friendly interface and native design features make it easy to create and edit simple graphics within the software.
- Lightburn is also known for its fast and responsive performance, supporting a variety of laser printers and file formats.
- The software offers a fully functional 30-day free trial and is supported by clear video tutorials, responsive developers, and frequent updates and patches.
- The software also offers cut optimization and preview features that save you time.
- The ability to install a camera also helps print precisely on materials, saving costs.
Overall, Lightburn is a valuable tool that laser cutters will love for its optimization and streamlined features.