Remote laser cutting with Eltima USB redirection technology
- What is a plotter?
- How does a cutting plotter work?
- Cutter control challenge
- Efficient solutions to access remote plotters
What is a plotter?
A plotter is a hardware printing device used for drawing graphics (complex images or text) on wide-format mediums. This output device is able to produce copies of electronic circuit diagrams, engineering drawings, cards, and many other large graphic images. When you replace a plotter’s pen with a knife, you get a cutting plotter (cutter). A cutter serves for carving out the design (stored in the attached computer) on self-adhesive vinyl, thermo stencil, magnetic vinyl, photo paper, and a lot of other sheet and rolled materials.
In case you need to cut or engrave a pattern on a more dense material like textiles, plastics, wood, steel etc., the best way is a laser cutting machine. A laser cutter uses a high-powered beam guided along the material to melt, burn, or vaporize everything in its direct path. One of the major advantages of laser cutting technology is that cut product requires very little, if any, finishing work.
Nowadays, laser cutting is widely applied in the field of engineering design, industrial manufacturing applications, and more.
How does a cutting plotter work?
Typically, a plotter connects (via a USB or serial interface) to a computer which is equipped with a specialized software program for creating cutting designs and drawings. This dedicated application sends required cutting dimensions to the plotter and thus commands the cutting knife to produce the required cutting project.
Cutter control challenge
Since a standard cutting plotter is quite large, moving it around the facility in order to connect it to a different workstation is rather inconvenient. What’s more, it may be necessary to access your output peripheral from a machine located far away (in another office, building, or even country) from the device. In this case, you won’t be able to rely on your USB or serial cable for establishing a direct connection.
Is there any solution? Yes, instead of buying additional bulky plotters or moving your equipment, you can share your cutter over network and access it from multiple computers remotely. With a dedicated port virtualization software, you’ll be able to access remote devices without having them physically attached to your machine. How will you do this? Let’s see.
Efficient software to access remote cutters
FlexiHub is, in some ways, the easiest solution, or at least one of the most convenient. The app is designed to redirect USB and COM port peripherals over the Internet making them available for remote access. Based on the unique port virtualization technology, FlexiHub works over any distance with an unlimited number of USB devices (the software version for Windows supports serial peripherals as well).
The key features of FlexiHub:
- The program is cross-platform compatible. If your laser cutter is inserted into a Windows machine, you’ll be able to connect to it from a remote Mac or Linux computer, and vice versa.
- FlexiHub provides secure connections, thanks to advanced traffic encryption it deploys.
- When there’s no direct visibility between network computers and your local PC cannot connect directly to a machine with a cutter attached, the device will be forwarded over FlexiHub’s own Redirection Server, so you’ll still be able to access the peripheral remotely.
USB Network Gate is another effective solution to share laser cutter over network. One of its major advantages is the ability to redirect shared devices over any network (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, the Internet, or any other). USB Network Gate allows forwarding devices to virtual environment and blade servers, so you can access a remote cutting plotter even from your guest OS. Above that, the software supports Remote Desktop Protocol and makes it easy to access local devices while working in the RDP session.
The differences between FlexiHub and USB Network Gate
Although both solutions are based on the same port redirection technology, there are some differences in the software functionality.
- FlexiHub allows forwarding USB (and COM) devices over the network without the need to configure port forwarding or IP address of the server computer.
- To share devices with FlexiHub, you should make sure that all computers involved in communication are connected to the Internet, while USB Network Gate is able to work over the local network too.