I was able to try out my Pro Glowforge this evening. I’ve been able to successfully print out several pre made designs with no issues. The machine really feels like the magic device @dan has talked about for so long! After first printing the founders ruler I jumped right in to a design I put together in Inkscape…
Ok, so while I am waiting for my 'forge (and waiting and…) I occupy myself by checking in on what others are doing and I seem to always have the same question in my mind. Referencing YawString’s design I can see that some areas are cut through and some are etched. How does the machine know the difference or is it done in multiple passes? And if it is multiple operations I start thinking about registration, multiple files, etc.
Please forgive my ignorance here. I would love to be trying this out myself but in the meantime I will rely on the indulgence of those here in the forum for help. And thanks in advance.
The Glowforge interface gives you the option to Engrave (the etching), or Score (cut partway through) or Cut, if you have used different colors to create the design. It also treats Fills as engraves, and Strokes as either Cuts or Scores. (You tell it which.)
If you set each operation up as a different color (Red for Cutting, Blue for Engraving, Green for Scores, etc.) you can do all three operations at the same time so multiple passes aren’t necessary.
And if you set everything up in your file (SVG format) before bringing it into the Glowforge interface for processing, you don’t need to worry about registration, it aligns design elements perfectly in relation to each other.
If any of that was confusing, a group of Regulars have put together some tutorials that folks can read to learn about how to use the machine before they get it…the one to start with is linked below, and there are a LOT of helpful tutorials on learning to use Design software if you want to get started on a program ahead of time.
Here’s the link to the Design Matrix that cross references all of the Tutorials.
It was created exactly as Jules said and I used many of the tips I learned here to setup this design before I had my Glowforge. In this case the black fill is engrave, the blue is score, and the red is cut.
While I’ve been answering, 2 more excellent answers have popped up, and I think your question merits a new topic. Though there already are some, I wrote this up as a direct response to you and I’m sharing it here.
Thank you all so much, wonderful answers and instructions. I have been reading the Matrix some and will look further into it. Again, really appreciate the quick and thoughtful replies, looking forward to being able to do this all one day.
What I am wanting to do the most is making physical models from my 3D work in SketchUp. SketchUp will export 2D SVG files so with a little colorization, as learned here, I should be able to cut out all of the components and do some assembly. It has been such a long wait though I keep hearing Marlon Brando as the Godfather in my head saying… “Someday and that day may never come, you might get a Glowforge…”
Yawstring, thank you for the reply. It is actually much easier than I thought it would be and shows pretty good programing on the part of the company. As I mentioned in my forum reply I am looking to build models from my work done in SketchUp. Are you a glider pilot by the way? Single engine pilot here.
Oh it will. We’ve got a couple of folks who use Sketchup for design, but not too many tutorials on how it interfaces if I recall.
Basically though, you’ll want to either export a DXF and take it into something that can create an SVG file (AI or Inkscape) or export an SVG directly from Sketchup if it does that. (I’ve never used it, so don’t know what it’s capable of.)
You will want to assign colors and Fills to the CAD drawings, so getting to know one of those 2D vector programs if you can’t assign colors in Sketchup might be a good use of waiting time. They’re relatively simple compared to 3D rendering.
SketchUp will export SVG so no trouble there and I can colorize everything in AutoCad which is or course vector output. Use both of the programs every day so the drawing end should be the least complicated for me. I just need to get my hands on one! I would love to build a physical model of one of my recent trellis designs in the picture for instance (from SketchUp).
The glowforge interface is much easier to learn than design software, so you will be quite capable very soon after you get your 'forge.
You will grow to consider this community your go-to for questions or help!
Enjoy your adventure
One thing that might not be obvious is that you can have the same operation assigned to different colors. That allows you to control the order of the operations. I usually cut out the inside bits of a design before I cut out the full thing (outside). So inside bits get a different stroke color (no fill) than the outside outline. I put the inside cut first in the order of operations in the GFUI followed by the outside one. That way if there’s any warp at all to the material the bits will fall down but not affect the next cut. If I did it the other way (cut the outline then the insides) the whole piece might drop down and shift so the bits wouldn’t line up correctly.
I usually us Blue as my outline cut and Black as my internal cuts. But that’s just my shorthand & the GFUI will put them in the right order because it sequences blue before black and puts the cuts at the end so I don’t need to move them on the GFUI - just a quick shortcut.
Using different colors for the same physical operation (cut, score, engrave) also allows you to change the detail parameters - say a dark engrave for some parts of the design and a light engrave for other parts. You can have many many many colors but the GFUI will warn you when you have a lot because it will take a bit more time to process and for you to specify the operations. I usually don’t go over more than a half-dozen colors - usually 4 or 5 engraves and 1 or 2 cuts. But I have had 30 operations specified before (very tedious to assign the parameters).
Oh, and you can duplicate colors between fills & strokes as the fills are treated as engraves and strokes (without fills) are treated as cuts (or scores). So you can have black lines and black fills and have 2 separate operations to cut and engrave.
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OK, I now have a better understanding I believe. The different colors can be assigned their own power, feed rate, etc. and the GFUI orders them in a predetermined fashion. I guess the trick would be to optimize the engraves, fills, strokes and cuts so that one operation does not impede the following ones as you outlined in your first paragraph.
This can somewhat be equated to uses layers in a cad drawing or model file each having their own characteristics controlling lineweight, print color, etc.
Thank you for the enlightening explanation. Learning something every day.