I just spent a long time figuring out how to actually get design data out of CAD to cut on my Glowforge. Maybe you share my pain? Here’s how to do it! I refer specifically to SolidWorks here, but the critical steps are common to most solid modeling programs such as Autodesk Fusion 360, OnShape, Creo, Inventor etc:
- Open your part in solidworks
- Create a sketch on the face of your part
- Open the selection filter and click the “edges” selection filter (optional, but makes it easier to select all face edges including internal contours)
- Window-select the whole part (or features you want to cut)
This should result in all the edges within the window select area being highlighted
- On the sketch toolbar, click “project edges”. Now you should have all your edges in the sketch
- CRITICAL STEP : measure the XY bounding dimensions of the artwork to be cut in your sketch. I usually draw a temporary rectangle and constrain it to be coincident or tangent and measure that. If scale is important to your project, you need to keep track of these dimensions exactly. Delete the rectangle (you could optionally create the rectangle in a separate sketch for later reference.) You probably don’t want the rectangle left in this sketch unless you want to cut it with the laser also.
- CRITICAL STEP : Create a point in the sketch at the location you want to be x=0 y=0 (unless there is already a corner or endpoint there in which case you can just use that item later)
- Create a new drawing and do not show the sketch format
MAKE SURE DRAWING VIEW AND SHEET SCALES ARE SET TO 1:1
- Copy your sketch from the part and paste into the drawing view
- Create a new point at (0,0) in the drawing view (create a point and set its coordinates to (0,0 in the properties panel on the left)
- CRITICAL STEP: Select all the entities of the pasted sketch including your original desired (0,0) point from the sketch (not the new point you created in the drawing)
- Click move on the sketch toolbar and use from/to option to move all selected items from the point in the sketch to the (0,0) point in the drawing view. This just gets everything in a known position. You will see why you need this in a minute…sit tight.
- Export a .dxf file from the drawing file (I believe there is some problem with trying to export a part sketch as a dxf which is why we need this part->sketch->drawing madness)
- CRITICAL STEP: Open inkscape and import the dxf. Make sure scale is set to 1:1 in import options
- Export a svg file
- CRITICAL STEP: (annoying but necessary) Open svg file in geany or other text editor. If your text editor is so helpful that it won’t let you open files it doesn’t recognize, the workaround is to edit the file extension to “.txt”, edit the file, and then edit the extension back to “.svg”. In your editor, replace this block near the top of the file:
viewBox=“0 0 210 297”
With this one line:
<svg viewBox="-38.10000000000001 -63.5 76.20000000000002 127" xmlns=“http://www.w3.org/2000/svg” width=“76.2mm” height=“127mm” version=“1.0” overflow=“visible”>
And edit the first 4 numbers in the new block above to be your -x, -y and +x +y of the view (I often just use 0 0 and part_x_dim part_y_dim. Then change width and height to be EXACTLY the part x and y dims. By moving the lower left corner of the bounding box of your sketch to (0,0) earlier in the process, you’ve made it so the scaleof the .svg can be set correctly by setting the “width” and “height” of the view in the .svg to the part dims. Maybe there is some more elegant way to accomplish the same goal? Please let me know if you find it.
- Save the file.
- Open glowforge app and drag in the file
- Holy **** you did it !
Common troubleshooting (aka what I always do wrong):
- I always forget to check the scale of the drawing view or sheet which screws up the scale of everything downstream. To edit the sheet scale in SolidWorks, right click the sheet icon on the left panel and go to “properties”