Laser cutters work from CAD format files which commonly are in dxf format. Not many people have AutoCad though and it’s really not needed anyway to do basic 2 dimensional designs.
I do all my work in CorelDraw and if you have that, then this is ideal for sending me your files to cut.
However, CorelDraw is not something you need to have to be able to get your designs cut.
An excellent resource is Inkscape. Inkscape is Open Source and available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.
It is a bit like Photoshop but the main difference is that it is a Vector based system (important for us) – basically this means that each shape is defined by co-ordinates that will scale up or down without loss in quality.
Below is a great intro tutorial video to Inkscape which explains very clearly how to convert a jpeg into a vector graphic, just follow it up to 8 minutes and you’ll have all you need to know – beyond that it talks of colouring in which we do not want! When you have done tracing your jpeg and simplyfying it, just go to “save as…” and save it as a “Plain SVG”. That’s what we want!
If this process is a little too complicated for you or you have problems working with Inkscape then please don’t worry – we are always happy here to take a look at whatever file format you have and work from there. In the vast majority of cases we won’t charge you anything for converting formats – and we will never charge without getting your approval first.