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Modern Laser Marquetry and Wood Inlay Technique

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Published on Jun 3, 2015

This video shows Laser inlay technique, but a complete CNC router support is also available in ImagePaint.
To learn more please visit www.amazoncanvas.com

Which laser or CNC router to use?

There are many lasers and CNC routers out there with different features and costs, so instead of recommending a particular laser or CNC router, I will just list the important features a laser or a CNC router should have in order to produce good results when doing marquetry or inlay.

1. Size
If you can estimate the size of the largest piece in your artwork, then use that to determine the size of your laser or CNC router working area. On occasions, the largest piece can be larger than the machine can handle, in this case, cut it into smaller pieces while aligning the grains at the joints to achieve a more natural transition. In this video I use the Epilog Mini 18 (18x12 inches).

2. Accuracy
For either laser or CNC router, look at the specifications and select the one which has an accuracy better than 0.005 inches without turning on software backlash compensation. Software backlash compensation is unreliable, because software cannot know when to apply compensation and often compensate when not needed. If your machine is not this accurate, excessive gaps will be present, but can easily be filled with colored wood paste before gluing the assembled pieces onto a backing substrate.

3. Holding down the material
Laser has an exhaust outlet that you can attach a blower to suck out the smoke. Make sure this exhaust outlet is below the material so that the air suction can pull the material down flat on the cutting surface. Wood veneers expand when in contact with water-base glue such as PVA glue, so if there is a small gap between the pieces, this expansion will help to close the gap. This expansion property of wood veneers places less restriction on how flat the veneers must be, or how accurate the CNC is, in order to produce a tightly fit design.
For CNC router, the best method to hold down the veneers are low tack double sided tapes. CNC vacuum hold-down system is not good enough to hold down small pieces.




4. Printing to the machine
ImagePaint is an Adobe Illustrator plugin, so if the laser supports printing (sending final cutting file to the laser) from within Illustrator, then it is more convenient, otherwise, ImagePaint can export the file as .svg or .dxf file to be printed in other software that support the laser.
For CNC router, ImagePaint already support many Post Processors, but we can add support if your CNC is not in this list.

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