Etching vectors in place of raster

I find myself needing to etch a graphic that is mostly lineart, with some thickness to it in certain places. The software wants to etch it horizontal line by horizontal line, and it is both time-consuming and comes out with Ridges at any number of lines per inch. Obviously more lines per inch minimizes ridges a bit.

What I would really love to do is replace this raster etching with scoring vectors that optimize the path around the graphic. There is a dot that would need to be filled in, but most things are long lines.

Is there some way to generate optimized paths in inkscape to fill in a shape, assuming some line width, which would reflect the laser width anyway? I already have everything laid out as Vector art. I don’t need help tracing it, just filling it in with paths.

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A bit of a kludge but create a document that is nothing but a series of horizontal lines spaced however far apart you want them. Then copy that to your design and do a merge or clip or whatever Inkscape does to combine the paths.

Another possibility is to duplicate your object and paste it in place. Then reduce the size by .02 or whatever value you want.

Nothing easy but possible.

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If you were to post what your current vector s/w is, ‘those that know’ might be able to point you to a specific pathway.


If I am tracking properly you can use the trace function in most any art program to give you vectors and then you can delete the rasters.

Good news: found a solution. Pasted below
Bad news: GF messes up at the end of paths.
To explain further - at the end of each line, the GF head stops and turns around, but hasn’t turned off the laser yet, so it etches further through the acrylic, sometimes cutting all the way through. Made the whole thing look messy from varied depths.
@dan This looks like an issue for the bug swatters.

I tried it with Inkscape’s inset/offset at .05mm. Not perfect, but almost got lines filled in. It’s the turn-arounds that kill it.

  1. Select one or more path objects.
  2. If the object is filled, set the fill to “None,” leaving you with just the outline visible.
  3. (Optional) Open the Inkscape Preferences dialog, scroll to the “steps” pane, and set the “Inset/Outset by:” interval. (A value of 3 px is usually a good starting point.) Close the dialog.
  4. Repeat the following sequence:
  5. Duplicate the objects with Ctrl-D (or, Edit>Duplicate)
  6. Inset the paths with Ctrl-( (or, Path>Inset)
  7. As you perform that sequence, it will create inset paths that are smaller and smaller until they go away altogether.

Yes, the GF’s head slows down as it takes corners, resulting in over-powered burns at the corners. 3D printers had the same issue (over-extruding at corners) which they addressed by reducing the flow of plastic proportional to the head movement. I’m hopeful that GF will apply the same logic to the GF’s laser, so it can moderate the laser’s power proportionately to movement speed so that corners are even with the lines.

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I find that the overburn spots are reduced if you slow the laser down and use less power. It makes sense, I think, because the acceleration time is reduced.


Great point - multiple, slower, lower-power passes are much more even than one, high powered fast pass.

This is exactly what the HD PG settings do.

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The point was to speed up prints that take unnecessarily long. So far what I’m hearing is that the way to make this technique work is to slow it down, defeating the purpose.

If you use interpolate in Inkscape you can add as many parallel lines as you want,or it can interpolate between two different shapes. If you extend the lines outside the box, even as you have spots the laser is not firing at it will not slow down till it reaches the end of the line so the ugly part will be outside your artwork that you will cut off anyway…

I am glad that you can set the amount of inset or outset, as I have been looking for that widget and not found it yet. Any hints would be appreciated.

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I was wishing for this exact same feature the other day when engraving a very linear logo onto leather, it would be fantastic if glowforge could incorporate something like this as an option in future software updates

The point was to speed up prints that take unnecessarily long. So far what I’m hearing is that the way to make this technique work is to slow it down, defeating the purpose.

Well, vectors are generally much, much faster than rasters (minutes vs hours). So two vector passes could still be far faster than a raster.

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