To produce the best product possible using the least amount of laser machine time to cut / engrave the smallest amount of material sheet.
Big things cost more than small things
The larger your design the more material it will use and the more laser time it will take to cut / engrave.
Complex designs cost more than simple designs
The more details you have in your design, like a lot of small cut outs or engraving details, the more laser time it will take to cut / engrave.
Nesting multiple parts / products in a single design reduces cost BIG time
Fitting parts close together (leaving at least 0.039”/ 1 mm between parts), nesting within one another, and/or sharing edges with single lines is the most efficient use of material. This is often your number one cost saver. (Not available for metal designs)
Overlapping lines cost more than shared single lines
When you have two lines on top of one another in your design, the laser will cut them both. This burns your material and isn’t good for the machines. Make sure there aren’t doubled up lines in your design (eg when two squares are right up against one another). In many softwares these look darker on screen than single lines.
Curves cost more than straight lines and sharp corners
The fastest route from point A to point B is straight ahead in one direction. Adding rounded corners, curves and circles will slow the laser speed, hence take more laser time to cut / engrave.
Area engraving vs line engraving - it depends
Engraving an area using a raster area engraving process can take more laser time than using a line engraving process, and vice versa. Hence it pays to play around with these two processes to get the best result at the best cost.
Area engraving high volumes of small complex shapes cost less than line engraving
If you have a lot of design elements to be engraved (with features 0.012” wide and above), raster area engraving may use less laser time than line engraving.
Augmenting designs with line engraving cost less than using area engraving
Think of line engraving as ‘drawing’ with the laser. It can augment design elements less than 0.012” wide to help them pop, using less laser time than raster area engraving. It also uses less laser time when engraving a thin decorative border on larger simple shapes.
Area engraved objects located close together cost less than being spread apart
Grouping raster area engraved parts horizontally across your design reduces the laser time. The laser movement is similar to an inkjet printer that moves the span of the material line by line.
A segmented line cost more than a single line of the same length
Using segmented lines or paths has the laser jumping about the design, increasing the laser time to cut / engrave. But using long continuous joined paths means a smooth and consistent laser movement.
Thick materials cost more to cut (and often to buy) than thin materials
The thicker the material the more laser time it will take to cut through it.
Hard materials cost more to cut (and often to buy) than soft materials
Less dense materials (like paper and pulpy woods) take less laser time to cut through than harder materials (like acrylic) which takes more “umph” to cut through.