Using Inkscape to Create Metal Cutting Machine Templates

As with most technologies, cutting machines have become more and more affordable over time. These machines offer tremendous versatility for scrapbookers, greeting card makers, and just about anyone who makes paper and cardboard crafts. Users can easily achieve professional results by automating the cutting process and cutting out designs that would be too complex to do by hand.

The files used as templates by these cutting machines are vector line files and there are a wide variety of different types. Many of these are proprietary formats used by certain machine manufacturers. These formats can make it difficult for users to create files for use on different machines.

Fortunately, some options allow enthusiasts to create their own cutting machine patterns. You may already be familiar with Sure Cuts A Lot, software that allows you to create files in formats for a wide variety of cutting machines.

In addition to creating your own files directly in the application, you can also import other vector file formats, including SVG and PDF, which are created in other software such as Inkscape. In many cases, however, it is possible to save the file in Inkscape in a format that the included software can import and convert.

The following pages provide some general tips for using Inkscape to create templates, including more information about saving files from Inkscape for use with various cutting machines. The success of using files from Inkscape ultimately depends on the cutting software you use. You can check your device’s software documentation to see if it can accept any type of file Inkscape can create.

  1. Convert text to outlines
  2. Merge multiple shapes into one path
  3. Saving different types of files

Convert text to outlines

The cutting machine reads the vector line file paths and translates them into paper cuts. The projects you want to cut should be paths. If you’ve included text in your design, you’ll need to manually convert the text to paths.

However, it is very simple and only takes a few seconds. With the selection tool active, click the text to select it, then go to Way Item on the way † That’s it, although you can’t edit the text anymore, so check it for spelling and typing errors first.

On the next page, we’ll show you how to overlap the letters of text and then merge them into one path.

Merge multiple shapes into one path

If you want to remove overlapping letters, you can do so without merging the letters into one path. However, combining the letters will reduce the number of cuts most machines have to do.

First click on the text you converted to a path. Go to An object Ungroup so that each letter represents a separate path. Now you can move the letters towards each other so that they overlap and form a visual whole. We also rotated our letters a bit. You can do this by clicking on the selected letter to turn the handles in the corner into double-headed arrows that you can drag to rotate the letter.

When the letters are arranged as you want, make sure the tool Select active. Then click and drag a selection that completely encloses the entire text. You should see a bounding box around each letter to indicate that they are all selected. Hold down a key Shift just click on the unselected letters if no letters are selected.

Go to Way Union , and the letters are converted to one path. if you choose Change paths With the node tool and clicking on the text, you can clearly see that the text has been merged.

Saving different types of files

Inkscape can also save files in other formats. If you have cutting software that cannot open or import SVG files, you can save the Inkscape file in another format, which can then be imported for use on your computer. Some common file formats that can be imported and converted are DXF, EPS, and PDF files.

Make sure all objects have been converted to paths before proceeding if you save to DXF. An easy way to verify this is by going to Change Select All and then Path Object to path

Saving in a format other than Inkscape is a very simple procedure. Saving the file in SVG format is the default action. Just go to File Save as after you save it to open the Save dialog box. You can click the drop-down menu there Type and select the file type you want to save the file in – your choice will depend on your machine software. Software documentation should contain information about compatible file types. Unfortunately, Inkscape may not be able to save a compatible file type for your computer.

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