@TravisGood @Tookys valerie Lightburn had an upgrade recently to their 1.0 version. Prior, it was a well-featured vector/raster CAD tool with a focus on laser cutting, as well as realtime control software for Lightburn-compatible controllers, of which Ruida has been the most talked-about, but it will also control some other Chinese laser controllers by other mfgs. They are a small user-oriented company with great direct and community support, and very active on developing further, but it’s pretty great already. But, historically it could not control a ULS, whose interface is a print driver.
However, the recent addition was that Lightburn, addressing this very problem, at least PRINT the job to ULS machines with the approp Windows print driver installed. So, it just works as CAD software and hands the job over to our familiar ULS print driver.
So, no direct live control on these machines, but it’s high utility, reliable CAD features for lasers. It’s more, there is a learning curve but it’s a pretty reasonable curve. It might be a little confusing because I think it’s going to offer up extensive tool panels for, like, dithering a bitmap, that probably won’t be supported by Red/Blue/Pearl as-is. The ULS print driver just wants to see a bitmap and does its own dithering, so users might get misled, and I’m not sure what it would do. I can think of some other features that might not implement well when sent to a ULS machine, like a dotted line. I haven’t tried this yet either way to see what trouble you might get into, but I don’t think it’s capable of damaging a machine, because ultimately it hands it over to the ULS print dialogue box and it’s going to use those settings for speed, power, z, air assist, raster, etc. At worst it might send over something that doesn’t look right, takes forever to run, or blank etc. Or it might have a mode button to disable menus for options that won’t work right, I don’t know.
The new lasers (Tarkin and then Pearl after conversion to a Ruida controller) are directly controlled by Lightburn too, opening up a whole new realm of features. So, we should probably get members familiar with this toolchain anyhow. It’s not free, and has an annual fee, but I think Travis can get a steep discount even for the general membership to buy licenses for their own machines that makes it a better value than a new Corel or Illustrator license.
I’d recommend Lightburn as the next step to try, and don’t bother with Corel’s expensive professional license. Leave the Corel and Illustrator we already have installed, of course. I know Travis made a class for Lightburn. Hashing instruction out with the existing laser classes can happen later, right now it’s just another option on the machine.