Combine multiple copies of artwork for faster engraves

This crops up quite often, so I hope this helps some people who’ve asked about speeding up their work.

We all know engraving takes time, this is because the head has to move back and forth for every line (specified in your Lines Per Inch setting), but there’s also “overshoot”, the extra distance needed for the head to slow, turn around, and speed up again.

If you need to produce multiple copies of your design, you can easily copy and paste, and line them up to make best use of your material. The problem here is that each copy will be treated as a single piece, so the engrave will run once per copied piece, like so:

The issue here is that the movement of the head at each end of the pass can take as long, if not longer, than the time it’s spending actually engraving the material. With the latest speed improvements, that extra time can be significant.

The solution is to combine multiple copies of the engrave portion of your design into a single large component. This means it will be processed as one element, drastically reducing the amount of time to print:

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Ok. thanks for the tip! So clarify this - Simply align them and make sure they are the same stroke colors? Or do you actually have to use, for example in inkscape Ctrl - G to group them tomake them one large component and make them the same stroke colors ?

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If on the other hand, all the lettering is left as vectors and set to engrave and copied in the GFUI and lined up horizontally they will all engrave at the same time and be a lot more flexible to use and a cleaner engrave.

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This is a great explanation! Ganging a print is always the way to go when creating multiples of one thing.

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Not just same color but same object with combine.

Here is @dan explaining this on a video I posted.

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Great explanation!

Same color is sufficient but, as pointed out above, if they are vector engraves vs. raster/bitmap, then you don’t need to make multiple copies in your design software.

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Can this work for multiple raster images? That would be amazing because I am doing a few tiles with photos and two hours seems generous. I tried grouping them without luck.

This applies specifically to raster/bitmap. You combine them before uploading to the UI.

Vector engraves (with the same color from the design application) will automatically merge when printing.

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Another reason to go with vector engraves where possible. Upload one, copy/paste as many as fit, and they all go at once without crowding the left hand layer column.

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Hi, I’m having some trouble with this. I have five images to engrave, with boxes around them to cut, and even after grouping them they still are treated separately. I’m using Inkscape and the images are copies of a PNG, all the same color. The cut lines are all the same color too.

Any help is appreciated.

I seem to have found a work around. I saved all of the engrave images as a single PNG and opened it in another Inkscape page, where I redrew the cut lines. I don’t know if there was a better way, but this is what I came up with.

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If you are using Raster images, making them all one is the only way to go, the color if the raster is irrelevant as the GFUI treats each raster as one layer. You can in Inkscape use Alt-B or Make Bitmap Copy in the Edit pulldown and it will make the bitmap in place of what has been selected, you can then hide the others and just leave it in place. As the only bitmaps I generally use are for 3D relief carvings I make sure they are grayscale as color would throw it off. There is a popup to set the resolution, and of course, that will need to be fairly high so it does not pixelate as is the default.

Where the color is solid it would be very rare for me not to want it to make it filled vectors as I prefer the look of those and it is those that the color is relevant where all of the same color are done together even if you copy/pasted all of them.

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Thanks, I’ll give that a try next time.

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I’m in the middle of making 300 key ring tags. My file has 60 key ring fobs per sheet, each engraved with a logo. Cutting time: 2 hours 20 minutes.

I noticed it was engraving each key ring separately. So I combined all the images. New cutting time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

40 minutes saved per sheet, since I’m making 5 sets that’s over 3 hours quicker!

Great tip and nice explanation. Thanks.

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