Darkly Labs Community

1 year with an EM2 for a Railway Modeller

1 year with an EM2, where did the time go? I thought it might be worth sharing with others some experiences of how things have developed for me and what I learned to get the best out of the EM2.

Over the 12 months the biggest change was dumping Laserweb. That piece of software was responsible for a lot of teething problems I had but at that time I didn’t know it was Laserweb that was causing it. I won’t elaborate on that as it is now history and if anyone is still contemplating making the change to Lightburn I would say stop wasting your time and do it now, you will gain big time. Lightburn is a superb piece of software and the developers deserve a lot of praise for what they have achieved - thanks Lightburn team.

The first few weeks of the EM2 were spent trying to learn the machine and find out what materials work best with it. I wanted to find materials that cut easily, preferably with a single pass, and I soon learned that if I could cut something easily with a craft knife it would cut easily with the laser as well. As a result I discarded MDF and birch ply pretty soon and chose to use card and poplar ply. Card cuts on one pass and poplar ply on 2 passes. I also learned after some false starts that white card is a definite no-no. It doesn’t always engrave or cut but sometimes it does and it did take rather a long time to discover this. Now I use mostly grey and yellow card but mounting board seems ok provided the white is not too bright.

I will post on another topic one of the buildings I have made using card and this building uses the thicknesses I have now standardised on which are 1.5mm mounting board (as in picture framing), 0.5mm grey card and 160gsm(0.2mm) card. By using various laminations of these materials I can get everything I need to do and the EM2 works perfectly with these materials.

The settings I am using for these are:

1.5mm card - Engrave (as in brickwork) 500/75%; Cut 125/100%

0.5mm card - Engrave 1000/100%; Cut 200/100%

0.2mm card - Engrave 750/45%; Cut 500/100%

3mm Poplar ply - Cut 200/100% 2 passes Z offset 1.5, step 1mm

I use Coreldraw (currently X8) as a drawing package saving my drawings in SVG (scaleable vector graphics) for importing into Lightburn. It might be useful to mention the parameter settings for others who may be using this combination as it did take a few false starts to get this working properly so here goes.

Compatibility: SVG 1.1
Encoding method: Unicode UTF-8
Styling Options: Internal Style Sheet
Javascript: Leave unchecked
Document Setup: Page size as defined but Drawing Precision set to 1:100 units; Fountain steps 256
Export text: As text; Embed font in file; Give embedded font priority
Export bitmaps: PNG - PNG bitmaps and set Link Images. 

These settings have worked for me with the simple drawings I have used them with. Not much engraving other than producing brickwork and lettering, no picture engraving for which these settings might need tinkering perhaps.

Hope this brief explanation of my first year of the use of an EM2 might be useful to some.


Thanks for sharing. I’m a new owner and want to reduce my learning curve by leveraging the knowledge and experience of others. Post some pix of your buildings! 


Great information Ralph.

Ralph, thanks for this information. Among other projects, I intend to do some N scale/2mm work, and I appreciate your trailblazing!


Hi Michael,

Since posting this the lens has been changed - the original was the 2 part lens which burnt (no longer supplied with the EM2) and now we have the one part lens. This has changed the power of the laser quite a bit and some of the above settings have now had to be changed to match the increased power. For example the 1.5mm mounting card now cuts cleanly at 200 rather than 125 but that again depends upon the quality of the mounting board. I am using Daler Rowney board as purchased from Rapid Online in the UK.

I have to say that the Emblaser has revolutionised my modelling and I would not be without it now. Good luck with your modelling.



Hello Ralph,

I received a Core last month and have been having lots of fun with it. I made a few puzzles (I think that’ll bring in some side business to help fund one of our local groups here) and some boxes. I hope to get to modeling after wrapping up a spice box I’m working on now. If only my wife and kids went to bed sooner!