Forums/Tutorials/Laser Cutting Tutorials & Tips

Double check your dashed lines for laser cutting

Catherine Field-Dodgson
posted this on January 29, 2012 17:38

Dashed lines are useful if you want to make ‘fold’ lines in your design, or if you want to score part of your design, without the laser cutting the line all the way through. You can engrave or use a blue cutting line for dashed lines. If you want to include a dashed line in your laser-cut design, you must ensure that all elements in your design are vectors. Here’s how:


In Illustrator and Inkscape, it is possible to create a dashed line, by simply applying an ‘appearance’ to it:


dashed_line.png

But - if you apply an appearance to your design, it doesn't actually change the raw vector information read by a laser cutter. If you view your design in Outline mode, you'll see that they appear as solid lines, which is what the laser will cut:

 

Outline_mode.png

If you want your design to have dashed lines that will be cut by the laser, you’ll need to turn them into vectors.

Using Illustrator


If you're wanting to engrave a thin dashed line, you'll need to change the line settings to (at least) 0.3mm stroke weight, and a raster engraving color (shade of gray). There are then a couple of ways to turn your dashed appearance into real vector information:

1. Select the dashed lines and use the Object > Expand command. Note - this will turn the lines into filled shapes. You will then need to remove the fill color, add a stroke color, and then delete any extra lines (they will now be very thin boxes).


Object_expand.png

or:

2. Select the line, remove the dash effect and use the Object > Path > Add Anchor Points command. Do this lots of times, until you've got anchor points at the same sort of interval as you wanted the dashes. Now go through with the Direct Select tool and remove every other line between the anchor points.


Add_anchor_points.png

Using Inkscape


As with Illustrator, the dashes are also only an appearance when selected as a stroke setting in Inkscape, so there are a few steps to follow to get it to a state ready for correct laser-cutting:

1. Draw a line in Inkscape using the Stroke Style 'dashes' appearance.


Inkscape_dashes.png

2. Click on the 'edit paths by nodes' black arrow tool, and highlight the line.

Inskcape_black_arrow.png

3. Then click on Path > Stroke to Path, which transforms the line to a series of individual paths.


Inkscape_stroke_to_path.png

4. Use the 'edit paths by nodes' black arrow tool again to highlight the entire dashed line.

5. Click on Object > Fill and Stroke and ensure that the line weight is set to 0.01mm. At this point you would then need ensure your Stroke Paint of Fill is set to your desired engraving or cutting colors, as per our guidleines laid out in our Inkscape Starter Kit:http://www.ponoko.com/starter-kits/inkscape

Final check

It pays to doublecheck your design file in Outline Mode, to ensure that your dashed lines are made up of vectors:

If you have any questions about this process, then drop us a line at service-at-ponoko-dot-com and we’ll be happy to take a look at your file for you.