Aligning artwork on front-back sides for print and cut


Here’s a non-template way to get near perfect alignment on artwork printed on two-sides of a page. The original goal was to make a card to be half-folded with a cutout on the front aligned with artwork on the inside. My printer is an inkjet and Inkscape 0.92.3 is used for artwork.

The critical step is using two-page Duplex printing. Since the paper never leaves the pinch rollers, its orientation remains unchanged for the second-side print. Draw a center fold line on the page since small misalignments associated with paper tray guides not being tight may mean alignment requires not folding exactly corner-to-corner. Results seem as good or better than the precision of Snapmarks. My worse case misalignment of Snapmarks scores is about 0.012 inches on a full page where other scores had much smaller misalignment.

Workflow for half-fold card-stock:

  1. On an Inkscape 11 X 8.5 inch page, draw a rectangle 5.5 X 8.5 inches.
  2. Put artwork for both sides in this rectangle. The parts are perfectly ‘aligned’ at this point.
  3. Group artwork and rectangle, then Duplicate.
  4. Make two 90-degree rotations of the duplicate (or a reflection about a vertical line followed by a reflection about aa horizontal line.)
  5. Move the result to the left half of the 11 X 8.5 page. It should snap to the right side half rectangle.
  6. Now delete from each side the artwork not wanted on that side.
  7. Copy to a new 11 X 8.5 Inkscape page the right half rectangle and its artwork. Place on right side of a 11 X 8.5 inch bounding box. Save as a PDF file.
  8. Copy to a new 11 X 8.5 Inkscape page the left half rectangle and its artwork. Place on left side of an 11 X 8.5 inch bounding box. Save as a PDF file.
  9. Open a PDF editor and import the two pdf files.
  10. Print using Duplex print option…

Folding along the center line common to the two half rectangles should prove the alignment.

So alignment is the easy part. To use Snapmarks for cut/score operations on paper, the Snapmarks are added to, say, the right half artwork on the 11 X 8.5 page. Use this as in step 7.
That page is also copied and pasted onto the standard Glowforge 20 X 12 inch page and saved to be Uploaded from Home. It will be used with the Snapmarks icon.

Unfortunately I usually get the dreaded “Snapmarks do not match” error. So the alignment part is easy, the Snapmarks part is hard.

I have also gotten the Duplex print route to work using WORD documents. You just need some way of printing the two pages using Duplex printing. Maybe Inkscape can do that someday.