Hi, im new here and not sure what forum to post this question in but here it is. I have taken several classes in laser cutting using AutoCAD as the drawing software. I have been thinking about buying a laser cutter for my own personal use but I was wondering what type of software does the laser cutter itself use. When I was in my laser cutting class we had to save our autocad file to a jump drive and then load it on the computer connected to the laser cutter. The computer had some kind of software that showed the path for the laser to follow and allowed us to type a name in for etching but Im not sure what that software was. Do cnc machines usually come with their own software to run them or is there another program I would have to get to do this? I already have AutoCAD on my computer as well as Pro-E I am just not sure what other kind of software I am going to need.
Depends on the laser system. A laser cutter/welder may use G-code, so you would need a CAM program to go with your Pro-E or Autocad. I think some versions of PRO-E have posts built in. There are some laser cutters that use a windows format, with a graphical interface. Laser engravers on the other hand, usually use some graphic interface like Gravograph or something similar. So there really is no way to answer your question one way or the other until you pin-point what laser system your looking at.
lets say I am looking at an Epilog Mini 24. I am just looking to do laser cutting in mainly balsa wood for model airplane parts. So, most of what I want to cut is going to be 2d parts I can draw on Autocad.
I've worked with Cincinnati and Tanaka lasers. The Cincinnati comes with it's own software, while the Tanaka requires not only external CAM software, but also a controller. We went with Fanuc controls and ProNest (MTC) software.
The laser software works as follows: you input a CAD file (dxf/dwg etc), select your quantity and select material thickness/grade. Like you said, you can also add text etching, manipulate the cut sequence, etch for vinyl etc.
So it depends on what laser you're buying.