K- 40 Entry #18: K40 Whisperer Software
I can't believe that it has been over 4 years since I have made a blog post dedicated to my K-40 laser cutter. Probably 6 months ago my $50 laptop met its demise when it was knocked from a desk and the screen no longer worked. I originally sought out an older model that ran Windows 7 or 8 knowing at the time the compatibility between computer and laser cutter was reliable. That was about 6 years ago. I had originally meant to use a software other than the supplied version of LaserDRW that came with the cutter, At the time I could not get the free software program K40 Whisperer to install properly and run my cutter from my laptop.
I happen to have a Windows 10 Microsoft Surface at my disposal and decided to install K40 Whisperer from Scorchworks. The installation went flawlessly and the program activated the laser cutter the first time with no issues. You must remove the dongle that came with the K40 for the communication between computer and cutter to work.
As you can see the controls are very simple and easy to understand. Different from the LaserDRW, you can include both cutting paths and engraving details in the same file as shown above. The red outline is of course the cutting path. I tend to create all of my artwork in Adobe Illustrator and save the file as a .SVG format. One issue I have is that I cannot seem to get Illustrator to create the proper red that K40 Whisperer can interpret, so I need to take a intermediate step into Inkscape, a free downloadable vector graphics software. Before opening my Illustrator .SVG files with Inkscape, I make sure that the cutting paths and engraving areas are in separate layers.
Above you can see the settings that I use. First, select the path you wish to cut. Open the Fill and Stroke tab and you will see something like this. Select the Stroke paint box and make sure the settings are 255, 0, 0, 100 and save the file. If that red setting is anything other than 255, you'll get a black outline that cannot be cut and will look the same as your engraving. I do also tend to convert all of my measurements to inches since that is what I understand the best. If I use anything else, the scale of my artwork seems to be a little unpredictable. If you are using mm or another measurement, I'd just experiment with the saving settings until you get the consistency that you desire.