The following guidelines give a detailed step by step overview of how to set up your drawings for us using Inkscape drawing software. You can download a free copy of Inkscape here.
How to setup a file in Inkscape®
If using our materials, we recommend downloading our drawing templates. They help to verify scale and material type. Materials come in all different sizes depending on the maximum sheet size supplied from the manufacturer.
Templates for Inkscape can be downloaded from our templates page. Once downloaded, select and open the sheet size that is large enough for your components.
If you want all your parts cut / engraved from the same material, arrange into multiples of the same templates and draw as many as required .
If you want parts cut / engraved from multiple materials, Use the corresponding templates for chosen material
Try and use templates that suit best the scale of your drawings. i.e. if your components can fit within a 1000mm x 500mm template, don’t position your drawing on a 2000mm x 1000mm template with lots of excess.
If you have lots of small components from the same material it’s best to draft these on a series of smaller templates approximately 1000mm x 500mm rather than on one large template. Cutting & engraving densely populated files over large areas can cause the material to warp during the process.
If you have elements of your drawing that will only fit onto a large template but don’t need to use a whole sheet, just leave the remaining areas blank.
You’ll need to resize the page to the size of your material.
For everything you would like to have laser cut draw out your vector lines in:
We have established optimized vector / scoring settings for all our materials to achieve a consistent result with the best clarity. The depth is very shallow and cosmetic just scratching the surface. The Strokes & Fonts engraving sample (line weight 0.25pt) demonstrates the clarity on each material. These can be viewed in the materials gallery.
For everything you would like to be vector engraved (scored,) set the lines to:
While we can raster engrave thin vector lines, it’s advised that you vector engrave/ score them. All vectors you would like raster engraved must be indicated by a vector fill.
To turn a line into a filled shape in Inkscape:
When arranging artwork for engraving that has a few components on one sheet, it’s best to keep all of the raster engraving as close together as possible and in a horizontal row.
We have established optimized settings for all materials. In raster engraving terms the marking is cosmetic, shallow and typically a balance between legibility and cleanliness. The Strokes & Fonts sample on the material pages demonstrates the clarity achievable on each material.
If you would like to achieve a deeper result or an engraving a little heavier let us know your specification. In laser terms depth is usually specified in microns. Our standard engrave is approx. 0.25 microns (depending on material) and has excellent legibility.
It is achievable, but the laser has to run slowly meaning the concentrated heat build up makes the material appear quite burnt / heat scorched. It is also more expensive to process. Raster and vector engraving is not absolute science in terms of depth specification and therefore not suitable for making mechanical grooves or any features requiring precise depths. Achieving a certain depth is a balance in variation between the laser power and speed. A depth of engraving will always be within a tolerance of +/-0.2mm.
Try and make sure that all your vector paths are continuous. If a line is constructed from more than one path, make sure that you join / close the nodes.
Draw with the least amount of nodes possible without sacrificing the appearance. If you can reduce them, we suggest you do. The machines will read your drawings a little easier. Too many nodes can also have an effect on quality.
All text used needs to be converted to paths.
This is to convert the text to vectors and preserve your font. If you don’t do this and we don’t have your font installed here, the file will open in default font Myriad or Arial. The middle islands of some letters will fall out when laser cut which can make the text difficult to read. If you would like to prevent this one option is to use a stencil font.
There are 2 options when working with images in INKSCAPE, embedding and using tracing to bitmaps. In both cases images need to be at least 300 dpi and in grayscale. We recommend you carry out any image editing in Photoshop, Gimp or any other image editing software.
You can also trace the image you want to incorporate within your file to convert it to vectors. To do this first select the inserted image
When drafting your drawing ensure that there are no duplicate vector strokes stacked up on one another. If you don’t get rid of them the laser will cut / score these lines repeatedly, ruining the material and damaging the laser bed.
It’s also worth viewing your drawing in outline mode just to make sure you don’t have any white fills that are obscuring any hidden vector strokes. To do this:
If you have placed components directly beside each other you are likely to have parts of the vector shape with duplicate lines. In this case you will need to break apart the nodes manually so that they share the same line. In the examples the middle line between the rectangles will be broken and shared
Select all vector strokes and fills. Select Path > Object to Path to convert to nodes
Save your files in the following named format, replacing the fields with the relevant information:
The material drawing templates already have the material category name and page size by default, you will just need to enter your individual material specification and drawing name. Make sure you give easily identifiable names to your drawings:
BIRCH PLYWOOD_3MM_1200x600MM_ARCH MODEL1OF5