Design File Troubleshooting

When you upload a design to your Personal Factory (your Ponoko account) we’ll check the file to make sure it fits with the digital making ‘rules’. The rules are simply about giving clear instructions to the fabricator so you get exactly what you want.

We suggest you check over your design as thoroughly as possible before uploading it. This should help avoid the need for troubleshooting afterwards. We've put together a video tutorial for how to self check your files (using Adobe Illustrator).

But, if you do miss something, don’t worry. The good news is, our online making system can usually detect the specific cause of the problem and show you an error message that will point you in the right direction. If there are a number of errors in your design, each error will be detected and reported one at a time – so you may have to make adjustments to your file and upload it a number of times.

Here are the things you should check before uploading a design:

File size

Rule: Your design file must be less than 20mb.

Solution: One way you can reduce your file size if you are using Illustrator or CorelDRAW is to turn off the “Preview” or “Image Header” when saving as an EPS.

If your file is still too large, or you’re using Inkscape or Freehand, you’ll need either to simplify your design, or split it up onto smaller templates – two 6mb files will upload, but one 12mb one will not.

Duplicate file

Rule: You cannot upload more than one design file with the same name as part of the same order.

Solution: If you want to make your design from a single material multiple times, change the number in the quantity box beside your file name.

If you want to make your design from more than one material, you’ll need to duplicate your original file and give each copy a different name. We recommend ending the filename with the type of material you want to apply to it – such as “mydesign_blackfelt.eps” + “mydesign_redfelt.eps”, etc.

Non vector text

Rule: All text in your design needs to be converted to outlines (Illustrator), paths (Inkscape, Freehand) or curves (CorelDRAW).

Solution: The way to do this depends on your software package. Generally, you select the pieces of text which need to be turned into vectors, and use the ‘Convert to outlines/paths/curves‘ command.

It’s easy to check whether your text has been converted. Click on any letter using the ‘Direct select’ tool in your design program and you’ll see the vector lines and anchors around it. If you don’t see these, this text still needs to be converted.

Non vector images

Rule: Any images you have imported or placed into your file must be converted into vector lines and fills.

Solution: The functions for doing this are different in each software package. Plus, you can choose from a number of settings to achieve different results. You may want to try a few variations until you get the final look you want.

  • In Illustrator, select the image and use the ‘Live trace’ command.
  • In Inkscape and CorelDRAW, select the image and use the ‘Trace bitmap’ command.
  • In Freehand, use the ‘Trace’ tool and select the image.

Shape fill colors

Rule: The fill colors you use within shapes can only be a solid fill either of black or an even shade of gray. You can achieve this by using the grayscale color palette, or by making sure your RGB values are consistent (such as R:128, G:128, B:128 or R:230, G:230, B:230, etc).

You can use blue, red, green or magenta in the stroke color of your shape – thereby cutting or using vector engraving around the outside of it – but you cannot use them for the fill.

One more thing to check. You cannot use patterned or gradient fills in your shapes – only solid fills of black or a single shade of gray.

Solution: Go through your design and check all your fills are solid black or gray. You can create a patterned or gradient effect by using a series of block sections in different single shades.

Line stroke colors

Rule: All lines used in your design must have these specific RGB color values:

Cutting:Blue – R:0, G:0, B:255
Heavy vector engraving:Red – R:255, G:0, B:0
Medium vector engraving:Green – R:0, G:255, B:0
Light vector engraving:Magenta – R:255, G:0, B:255

If you are using lines for raster engraving, these must have either a black or gray stroke color with consistent RGB values (such as R:128, G:128, B:128 or R:230, G:230, B:230, etc).

Solution: First, check your design file is set to RGB and not CMYK colors (this does not apply for Inkscape). Next, make sure each of the stroke colors you’ve used has the correct RGB values.

In Illustrator, ensure that the "Include CMYK Postscript in RGB Files" option is not ticked when saving as an EPS file.

In CorelDRAW, exporting an EPS file in RGB mode can be difficult. If all else fails, use SVG format instead. This should upload fine.

Line stroke weights

Rule: Our system will ignore your cutting and/or vector engraving lines if the stroke weight is too thick. We recommend a width of 0.001mm for all files (except, use 0.003mm for Inkscape files).

Solution: Check your cutting and/or vector engraving lines are set to the recommended weights.

In Illustrator, you’ll need to click inside the ‘Stroke weight’ field and type in the width value – including the ‘mm’.

In Inkscape, you’ll need to select millimeters (‘mm’) in the dropdown menu beside the weight field.

In CorelDRAW, you can use the weight value called ‘Hairline’.

If all your lines appear correct, you could have a problem with leftover ‘anchors’ of deleted lines left in your design. These can affect the outcome of your design even if they are not visible in ‘Preview’ mode. Here’s what to do:

  • Change your ‘View’ to ‘Outline’ in your software package. Any leftover anchors will appear as small 'X's.
  • Click on the Xs with the ‘Direct select’ tool and remove them.

Lines with fill colors

Rule: Lines (created with the line tool in your design package) can have stroke colors, but not fill colors. This can be quite a difficult error to spot. This is because the ‘Select > Same > Fill and Stroke’ command (which we recommend using in the self-check tutorial) will treat them as correct shapes with the same values.

Solution: Look carefully through any elements in your design with both a raster fill and a vector outline. Try to spot any lines which may have accidentally been selected and given a fill as well. Once you find them, remove the fill color.

If your design file still won't upload...

Get in touch with us via email – and attach the file. You can contact us at service-at-ponoko-dot-com. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can – usually within 24 to 48 hours.

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