Why LightBurn? | LightBurn for Laser Cutting

We recommend all our customers use Lightburn for laser cutting. Why? LightBurn is a popular software application designed for controlling and optimizing laser cutters and engravers. At Thunder Laser, our lasers come with RD Works for free, however, Lightburn is a bit more advanced. It is also a steal of a deal at only $170. It’s also a one time fee-no subscription required.

Learn more about Lightburn here.

LightBurn Features

Here are some key features and functions of LightBurn for laser cutting:

  • Design and Import: LightBurn allows users to create or import vector graphics and bitmap images. You can draw shapes directly in the software or import files created in other design programs like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW.

  • Vector Editing: The software provides tools for editing vector paths, allowing you to manipulate and modify your designs as needed.

  • Job Control: LightBurn offers precise control over laser settings, including power, speed, and other parameters, to achieve the desired results on different materials.

  • Layer Management: You can organize your laser cutting/engraving jobs by using layers, each with its own settings. This makes it easy to apply different settings to different parts of your design.

  • Camera Integration: Some versions of LightBurn have camera support, allowing you to visually align your design with the material on the laser bed. This feature can be particularly useful for precise positioning and engraving on irregularly shaped objects.

  • Material Library: LightBurn can store and recall settings for various materials, making it easier to configure your laser cutter for different projects.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: LightBurn is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, making it accessible to a wide range of users.

  • G-Code Generation: The software can generate G-code, which is the language used to communicate with CNC (Computer Numerical Control) laser machines, allowing you to send the job to your laser cutter for execution.

  • Community and Support: LightBurn has an active user community, forums, and support resources, making it easier for users to get assistance and share knowledge.


LightBurn vs RD Works

User Interface:

  • LightBurn is known for its user-friendly and intuitive interface. It has a modern and visually appealing design, making it easy for users, including beginners, to navigate and use the software effectively.

  • RDWorks, on the other hand, is a bit less user-friendly and somewhat outdated interface. While it gets the job done, it may not be as intuitive or aesthetically pleasing as LightBurn.

  • Features:

    • LightBurn offers a comprehensive set of features, including vector drawing tools, bitmap editing, precise control over laser settings, camera integration (in some versions), layer management, and more.

    • RDWorks provides basic functionality for controlling laser cutters and engravers, but it may lack some of the advanced features and user-friendly tools found in LightBurn.

  • Compatibility:

    • LightBurn is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, providing cross-platform compatibility, which is advantageous for users who prefer different operating systems.

    • RDWorks primarily targets Windows users and may not be as readily available for other platforms. This can limit its usability for those using macOS or Linux.


  • Community and Support:

    • LightBurn has a strong and active user community, forums, and online resources, which can be helpful for troubleshooting, learning, and sharing experiences.

    • RDWorks also has a user community, but it may not be as extensive or well-supported as the LightBurn community.

  • Camera Integration:

    • LightBurn offers camera support, allowing users to visually align their designs with the material on the laser bed. This can be a valuable feature for precision engraving and cutting.

    • RDWorks may not have built-in camera integration in all versions, which could be a limitation for users who rely on this feature.

  • Pricing:

    • LightBurn typically requires a $170 one-time purchase or subscription fee, depending on the license type and version..

    • RDWorks is often provided for free by laser cutter manufacturers with their machines, which can be a cost-effective option. However, it may come with limitations compared to paid software like LightBurn.


In summary, LightBurn for laser cutting is generally considered a more user-friendly, feature-rich, and versatile software solution. It has a more modern interface, broader platform support, and a strong user community. 


However, RDWorks may be a viable option for users who have it bundled with their laser cutter or are looking for a free alternative, though it may lack some of the advanced features and user-friendly tools found in LightBurn.


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