Glowforge Illustrator Actions

Actions in Adobe software are shortcuts to perform tasks that you perform frequently. The process is pretty simple (and this isn’t a tutorial on how to do it) - in that you just create a New Action and then record the process of what you are doing. When you’re finished, hit stop.

One of the things I try and do with almost every Illustrator document I’m sending to the Glowforge is convert the artboard to 20x12". Attached is an action to do just that. You may have downloaded a file from somewhere, or trying to convert old files, or any number of reasons - but this gets you the 20x12 format that works great with the Glowforge.

Glowforge (1.3 KB)

To install an action -

  1. Download the ZIP file and decompress

  2. Move the .aia file to your Presets/Actions folder. On a Mac this should be: Applications/Adobe Illustrator CC 2017/Presets/en_US/Actions. On a PC, it should be: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator CC 2015\Presets\en_US\Actions.

  3. Open Illustrator and open the Actions Panel (Window > Actions). Select the dropdown menu at the upper-right of the panel and choose Load Actions. Browse to the Presets/Actions folder where you dumped the source file and select it. This will create a new area for Glowforge actions.

If you make actions that you feel are useful, feel free to post them to this thread and I can update the zip file as we go along.


I appreciate this. Really, I do! But I’m thinking it’s easier the way I do it… I just have a “Glowforge” Template that contains a 20"x12" artboard. Then I’d just paste whatever file I DLed into that. Admittedly, I’m not an Illustrator guy. Which way is actually easier?


Sure, you can definitely do that. I try to work with as few files as possible. And sometimes I’ll resize my art boards as I go through a project - for example on drawing the custom puzzle designs I’m doing at the moment. They utilize the passthrough, but I’m drawing the puzzle on an art board sized initially to the size of my final project size.

In all honesty, I just put this one together based off of a discussion we were having in another thread about actions and was trying to think of use cases.

This could be useful for someone who say, has a bunch of SVGs for their vinyl cutter that they want to size for the Glowforge.

As far as easier? Actions are pretty easy. It’s one click.


What took you so long? :wink: Chuckle! (Thanks, I’m going to give this a try tomorrow, and stick it in the Matrix tonight.)

You’re telling me!

I had to figure out how to cheat/workaround for the artboard trick. Illustrator won’t record the input for changing the art board size but it will let you go back after the fact and insert menu options. So I had to figure out that I needed to create an appropriately sized rectangle, insert the menu item for Fit Artboard to Selected Artwork and then clear the rectangle. Life is nothin’ but workarounds!


As I recall, I spent a lot of time figuring out workarounds when I was writing actions too. (It’s not the smoothest program to try to write actions for.)

That was a heck of a lot quicker than I would have been… :smile:

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So Adobe :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I’m thinking that a cut guidelines and engrave guidelines action would also be useful to add. Pretty sure you’re just on an island with the PRU and the rest of us with production units have the same cut/engrave areas.

The requested kerf offset is an interesting one. I’ll have to take a look at the process for an action. And then the intricacies of a DXF in AI.


The problem with a kerf adjusting action would be the need to cut or break closed shapes into segments first, shift two sides of a tab, but not the third, and then recombine. You actually want to widen a tab without extending how far out it sticks, to keep the tab flush.

It’s not much of an adjustment though, might not be worth messing with except on acrylic. (I was working on those tonight, and they’re fiddly.) :thinking:

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Out of curiosity, why would you need to break up first?

I haven’t gotten into it deeply yet, but I just want to kerf adjust the sides of the tab, not the height of it.

And I’m not sure if you can write an action for a connected segment in an overall shape. It wouldn’t save a lot of time over using CTRL-D to repeat a sequence of modifications if the Action has to be applied to each individual tab.

I might be overthinking it…I haven’t looked into it yet, but it seems like it’s going to be tough to code for kerf in an Action.

Actions aren’t really a (deep) programmatic approach to things like this but more of a shortcut. Scripts (ActionScript or javascript) would be a programmatic approach, in my mind, to things like this.

Actions will simplify the efforts. Think of it as process improvement: to do this, I’m currently having to select this, do this, then do this 2x, then do this. An action will allow me to select this, then hit a hotkey to perform the do this, then do this 2x, then do this.

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Thank you!

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Yeah, that was how I was using them long ago…had some pretty lengthy ones written up that personalized name plates.

I’ll get around to playing with it one day, but it’s going to have to take a rear seat to the design at the moment. I want to keep creating while the muse is with me. (And no, not the laser kind.) :smile:

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Ah I see.

This isn’t true. All closed shapes get kerf-adjusted in the exact same way - offset the lines by half the kerf width.

ALL closed shapes. Half the kerf. One process for all shapes for all cutting tools in all materials (that hold their shape after being cut).

I’m probably willing to explain it, again, if you care.

:slightly_smiling_face: Not in this case. I designed the tabs to extend exactly the width of the material thickness, and didn’t want to adjust the receiving side. (This was in AI so I was working manually to adjust specific tabs.)

I’m also trying to use the slope of the kerf when it’s set at the surface to provide enough resistance to allow for kerf adjusting acrylic for a snug, but not splitting, fit. It’s a bit tricky, but I actually had some success with it this afternoon.

I’d post the project but I’m not happy with the overall concept on the design…it came out a bit clunkier than I like. But the acrylic part of it worked, so I guess it was enough for one day.

I’m just trying different methods to see which one I like best for my own designing.

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If you don’t compensate for the kerf properly, by offsetting the lines of all closed shapes by half the kerf width, your tabs will not be cut to the proper (as-designed) dimensions.

Thankfully, I don’t have to explain it all again, as I did a pretty good job last year.

If you want your tabs to be the exact same lenth as the thickness of the material, and you’ve designed them to that length, you’re going to want to cut them with the kerf-compensating technique that will cut your tabs to the correct, as-designed, length.

Thankfully, the kerf-compensating technique that you will want to use in this instance is the exact same as the technique you’ll want to use for all other instances of cutting out closed shapes, and that is to offset the lines by half the kerf width.

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I’m not adjusting all of the lines, just the tab width. I’ve written about four tutorials on it now. They’re in the Tips and Tricks section. I know the half-kerf offset trick which works for all parts, if applied evenly. I’m trying something else now. :slightly_smiling_face:

The half-kerf offset “trick” is THE method of compensating for kerf.

Of course, you can offset whatever you want, but unless you’re offsetting closed shapes by half the kerf width, you aren’t…

… you’re just offsetting. And if your goal is for the ends of your tabs to sit flush with the material they’re slotting into, you’re going to want to
A. design them to the proper dimensions and
B. do a proper kerf-adjustment on them (offset the lines of all the closed shapes by half the kerf width)

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