In this video, I'm going to demonstrate how to use Inkscape to create a laser cutting pattern for use with the Epilog Mini 24 laser cutter. I'm going to create an example drawing and save it in the file format we normally use with out Epilog laser cutter. The file we'll end up with would probably work with any Epilog laser cutter, but for other laser cutters, some details (such as the required line thickness or colour) may differ. However, I expect that most of the drawing principles will remain the same.
Although the laser cutter is capable of cutting and engraving, in this example, I'm not going to include any engraving regions - just cutting lines.
What is Inkscape?
A free and open source cross-platform 2-D vector graphics editor.
Imports and exports a variety of file formats.
Native file format is SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), an XML-based vector graphics file format, which is an open standard defined by the W3C.
Provides an incredibly rich set of tools for rendering and transforming visual elements to create exquisitely artworks.
However, in this video I'll focus on a small subset of those tools that I use most frequently when designing for the laser cutter.
There's just so much you can learn about using Inkscape; I think I've been using regularly now for about 15 years and I still learn new things all the time.
However, for laser cutting, in terms of being able to translate the shape you have in your mind into a shape on the canvas, 20% of what you could learn gets you more than 80% of the way there.
You can learn to draw shapes faster, more efficiently - more elegantly - but knowing the fundamentals is enough to get your ideas onto the canvas.
Ultra basics of Inkscape
Toolbar - rectangles, ellipses, stars, etc.
Fill and stroke tool
Panning and zooming
Setting up a document for laser cutting
Basic principle: draw thin solid black lines where you want the laser to cut and nothing else.
Set display units to mm.
Set page size to the size of sheet that the pieces will be cut from - 600 x 300 mm in my example.
To ensure shapes are cut the size you expect, select "geometric bounding box".
Set display mode to "Outline" while drawing.
Line and Bezier tool - create path objects.
Select tool options: X, Y, W, H
Preparing a drawing for laser cutting
Save a separate copy of the file before doing the following...
Ungroup all objects
Convert all objects to paths (not always necessary, but highly recommended)
Set all objects to have solid black strokes with 0.01 mm thickness
Set all objects to have no fill
Save as an SVG file (this is for later editing)
"Save a Copy..." as a PDF file (this is for the laser cutter)