Preparing Your Text for Laser Cutting in Illustrator

In this tutorial we'll show you how to turn your text into vector shapes and create bridges for reversed text.


Select all your type. In the Type menu, select Create Outlines, or click Command/CTRL + Shift + O. Now your text is a group of vector shapes.

Let’s look at your shapes. If you were going to print your letters individually, the way we have it here would be fine. However, if you’re planning to reverse your text out, you are going to lose the holes in your letters (O, P, B, A etc.). We can remedy this by creating links or bridges to those areas.

There’s a few ways to accomplish this. We’ll go over one method using the Pathfinder Palette. Since this is a clean, sans-serif font, I want to make sure my links are perfectly straight. Grab the Rectangle Tool. I’m zooming in a bit to make sure everything is lined up. Draw a rectangle where you want your link to be. I’m placing mine at the bottom of the Ds.

Copy and paste the rectangle to use on the other D. Select your text and the rectangles. Something to keep in mind is the minimum part size. You'll want your links to be at least 1.5x wide as the thickness of the material you are cutting from. If you're cutting your type from .04" Aluminum, you'll want your bridge and line sizes to be .06". Find your Pathfinder Palette and we’ll use the Trim Tool for this. You can now delete the rectangles.

The Trim Tool is going to make an empty object in the “hole” of your letter, so be sure to delete those as well. If you're unsure you've got them all you can Command/CNTRL + Y to view your project in Outline view.

Your next step is to create the shape you want your text reversed from. Let’s use a simple rectangle. Place it over the text and select all.

Once again we will use the Pathfinder Palette. This time we’ll use the Exclude Tool.

When designing in Illustrator, please send us your files in .ai format. Before you upload your file, you'll want to go through the normal check list:

I have removed all stray points, objects and text boxes from my file
My objects are at least 1.5x material thickness apart from each other
My bridges, holes, and lines respect the minimum recommended part size
My object is to scale