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Starter Kit: Inkscape

Starter Kit: Inkscape

Inkscape

How to design smaller things (using a laser cutter)

Starting your design

You must use our design templates when creating your design.

After downloading, open your chosen template in Inkscape as you would a normal file, then create your design.

Ensure to create your design entirely within the template or it may be scaled incorrectly by our making system.

You can design for laser cutting on our three different material sheet sizes:

P1
181 x 181 mm7.1 x 7.1 in
P2
384 x 384 mm15.1 x 15.1 in
P3
790 x 384 mm31.1 x 15.1 in

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How to design for lasers

The color of the line you draw determines what the laser will do.

For example, if you draw a bird with a blue outline, the laser cutter/engraver will cut out a bird ...

And if you made the same line red, the laser would engrave the bird into the material. And so on.

It's that easy.

Now, here are the details ...

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Cutting lines

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The core of your design will be the lines and shapes you want cut out.

The easiest way to visualize how this translates to your design is to imagine laying the pieces you want to make on a sheet of paper, then drawing around the edges before taking them away. Your design should look like the lines left on the paper.

To make a cutting line, draw a line or shape.

Then open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the 'Stroke style' width to 0.010 mm:

And set the stroke color to blue with the 'Stroke paint' RGBA values of 0, 0, 255, 255:

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Vector line engraving

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Vector line engraving works in a similar way to cutting, but instead of slicing right through the material, the laser just marks the surface.

The laser will trace along the engraving line you draw in your design package. There are three different strengths available: light, medium and heavy – with corresponding depth and darkness. All three are very thin – approximately the width of the laser's beam.

Stroke width

Open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the 'Stroke style' width to 0.010 mm:

Light vector line engraving

Open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the stroke color to magenta with the 'Stroke paint' RGBA values of 255, 0, 255, 255:

Medium vector line engraving

Open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the stroke color to green with the 'Stroke paint' RGBA values of 0, 255, 0, 255:

Heavy vector line engraving

Open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the stroke color to red with the 'Stroke paint' RGBA values of 255, 0, 0, 255:

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Raster fill engraving

Raster fill engraving must ALWAYS be indicated by using a fill color - never a stroke color. To turn a black/gray/white stroke into a filled shape in Inkscape, select your line and use the Path > Stroke to path command. If you want a very thin engraving line, we would always recommend using vector line engraving instead of raster fill engraving - as above.

The strength of the raster engraving ranges from black as the heaviest, down to very pale gray which is the lightest (or white, which is none). You can actually use any strength in between these two, as long as all your RGB values match. Make sure you only use solid, single color fills – no patterns or textures.

To give your raster engraving a clean edge, combine it with vector engraving around the outside of your shape.

Light raster fill engraving

Open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the fill color to light grey with the 'Fill' RGBA values of 230, 230, 230, 255:

Medium raster fill engraving

Open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the fill color to medium grey with the 'Fill' RGBA values of 128, 128, 128, 255:

Heavy raster fill engraving

Open the Object > Fill and Stroke window and set the fill color to black with the 'Fill' RGBA values of 0, 0, 0, 255:

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Using text

Any text you use in your design file needs to be converted to paths. This way the laser cutter will follow your design correctly, regardless of whether or not it has the font installed.

This is as simple as selecting your text and then choosing Path > Object to Path from the top menu. You won't be able to edit the text once you've done this so do it last, after your spell check.

You can create text using raster fill engraving, vector line engraving, or a combination of both.

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Using images

Our making system only registers vector artwork. It will ignore images inserted in other formats (such as .jpg or .bmp).

To get around this, you'll need to trace the image you want to incorporate in your design. You can do this by selecting the inserted image and using the Path > Trace Bitmap window. You'll see there are several tracing options so try out a few until you find the one you want. Make sure your traced shapes are a single solid color.

Now close the ‘Trace Bitmap' window. The original image will still be behind your new traced image, so make sure you select it and delete it.

Next, click on the traced image with the ‘Edit paths by nodes' tool. If the trace has worked correctly, vectors should appear around all the individual parts of the traced image.

Finally, to choose the level of raster engraving you want to use, select all the elements of the traced image and adjust their fill color using the Object > Fill and Stroke window.

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Removing double lines

If you place objects directly beside each other, it's likely you'll end up with cutting lines sitting one on top of the other.

You should be able to see these quite plainly as being a darker blue than your other cutting lines. You need to change these double lines into a single cutting line – or as we call them, a shared cutting line. Otherwise the line will literally be cut twice – which is not the best for your material, or the machine.

Here's the process to remove double lines:

Step 1: Select one of the adjoining objects and use the Path > Object to Path command.

Step 2: Select the 'Edit paths by nodes' tool:

Step 3: Click on an object that contains a double line, then select a node on one side of the double line you want to remove:

Step 4: With the node highlighted dark gray, click the 'Break path at selected nodes' button:

Step 5: Click on the node on the other side of the double line, and use the 'Break path at selected nodes' button again:

Step 6: Click on the line between the two nodes so that both nodes are highlighted dark gray - and a larger size to the rest of the nodes in the object - and press delete. A paler blue line should be left behind:

Step 7: Select the nodes on each side of the next line, and repeat the above process:

Exporting your file

Use the File > Save as command and select the format as 'Inkscape SVG':



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