How to prepare CAD parts for cutting on your Glowforge - SolidWorks OnShape Fusion 360 Creo Inventor

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:

  1. Open your part in solidworks
  2. Create a sketch on the face of your part
  3. Open the selection filter and click the “edges” selection filter (optional, but makes it easier to select all face edges including internal contours)
  4. 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
  5. On the sketch toolbar, click “project edges”. Now you should have all your edges in the sketch
  6. 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.
  7. 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)
  8. Create a new drawing and do not show the sketch format
  9. Copy your sketch from the part and paste into the drawing view
  10. 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)
  11. 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)
  12. 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.
  13. 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)
  14. CRITICAL STEP: Open inkscape and import the dxf. Make sure scale is set to 1:1 in import options
  15. Export a svg file
  16. 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”
    inkscape:version=“0.92.1 r15371”

With this one line:
<svg viewBox="-38.10000000000001 -63.5 76.20000000000002 127" xmlns=“” 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.

  1. Save the file.
  2. Open glowforge app and drag in the file
  3. 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”

Holy #%#^%%^ this makes me glad to be using Fusion 360!

Steps for F360

  1. click on face to be cut
  2. click on the Shaper plug-in icon
  3. set your choices in the pop-up.
  4. click “okay”
  5. import into the GFUI

I am glad you figured out how to get get them out of Solid-works though. :smile:


Snagging that for the Tutorials section.

Jules… :sunglasses:
Code Name: Hedgie
aka: Tutorial Scrounger


Wow. That is a lot of work. Here is how I do it from SolidWorks:

  1. Create a new drawing template with the page size set to the GF bounding box. You on’y have to do this once.
  2. Create my part(s) as normal. If I am working on a joined assembly, I set the thickness as a variable and the kerf as a variable so I can adjust as needed when the thickness changes.
  3. Create a new assembly with all the parts I need that will fit on one sheet. A quick sketch of the bounding box keeps them all in the right area.
  4. Use mates to get all your edges abutting. Do all your layout in the assembly, even if you only have one part, unless it is only cuts, then you can skip to step 7 and skip step 8 altogether.
  5. Create a new drawing from the assembly, using the template created earlier.
  6. Set up your layers using colors for cuts, scores, and engraves. I usually have at least two cut layers so I can control when the parts are cut from the main sheet. This eliminates errors due to shifting during the cut.
  7. Create a view of your layout assembly.
  8. Create a sketch that gives one line per cut. You can use the convert edges option, but then you have to check for any overlaps. I find it is easier just to snap a line/curve to each corner. The GF will sometimes follow the direction and order of the lines in the sketch. You can also add solid hatch for engraving. If you need hatch borders that don’t get exported, just create a layer for those lines and remove its print visibility. This technique also means that if you change the part dimensions you don’t have to redo the sketch, just let it update and check it.
  9. Add any raster files at this time.
  10. In the drawing view pane, hide the components of the assembly if applicable.
  11. Save as PDF.
  12. Load into GFUI.

I have had perfect results with this technique every time. If I am working on a part that doesn’t need kerf adjustment or thickness compensation, I can skip those steps. If it is a simple part, I just open a drawing and do a sketch in the drawing, then save as PDF.


This is the better way to do it, in my experience. PDF’s made by CAD like solidworks and inventor work just fine with GF. No need to fuss with converting to SVG, defining origins and pasting sketches.

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Yea all I do is make my parts like usual, then place them in a drawing with a 1:1 scale and change the line colours to what I want and then save as a PDF. Quick, easy, effective

Might be worth doing two separate entries for SolidWorks. The one noted here may have some advantages over the one the rest of us have been using. If so, it would be nice to find out what they are and note it.

If you want it as a separate entry in the tutorials section, it needs to be created as a new Topic. (Regulars can only shift whole threads into other categories, we can’t shift individual posts in the thread. So this one is already included in the Tutorials section as part of the original thread.)

If you want to copy it into a new Topic, I can shift it for you into the Tutorials section.
(Yeah, I know… it’s kind of a silly restriction.) :smile:

That is so much better than the process I posted. Thanks!
I just forgot you could use pdfs and was therefore fixated on getting to .svg from SoildWorks.


SVG is the preferred format according to Glowforge, because there is information included with SVG that enables them to interpret the file correctly for the individual programs that they originate in.

(But sometimes, PDF is necessary for the same reasons…some programs weren’t designed to output information for laser cutting. They were designed for CAD drawing.)

This probably does need to be an alternate listing…@ben1 , if you want to create it, I can shift it. :slightly_smiling_face:

personally, i’ve had more consistency with PDF (or copy/paste) than with making an SVG.

bonus points for PDF working even if you don’t convert text to outlines (even though i often do out of habit). Acrobat handles the conversion for you.

A lot of people have, particularly those who want to use some of the CAD programs and CorelDraw/Affinity Designer.

They’ll flesh out support for SVGs on those programs though only if people continue to submit SVGs. Otherwise there’s no real need for them to address it, and people who use those programs won’t have an option, they’ll be stuck submitting their designs in PDFs.

(Not to say that using PDFs for now is a bad idea if there’s no other option.)

I use it straight out of illustrator (if i don’t just copy/paste). early on i had some SVG issues and switched to PDF and only once have i had an issue that wasn’t me screwing up something in the file.

i think acrobat has a much more consistent spec from program to program than SVG. it may be a safer format to use, with less “did you check this box?” issues. Not to mention that you can just set up a format preset that could even be shared.

but that’s just me. :slight_smile:

Ultimately, I wonder if the SVG development won’t lead to inclusion of the DXF format though…the reason they don’t have it locked down yet is because there are upteen jillion different DXF formats. (Slight exaggeration, but I don’t have time to go look up the number.) :smile:

Anyway, they’ll get around to it once they can I guess.

Yikes! I’ve been using CAD for months. My process is pretty easy:

  1. Use the CAD template you created for the Glowforge (Plot Styles, Layers, Colors, bed limits already drawn)
  2. Create your cuts on one of the cut layers.
  3. Create your scores on one of the score layers.
  4. Plot 1 to 1 on PDF
  5. Load PDF to Glowforge - manage settings - push glowing button.

Pretty simple.


If i wanted to cut out just certain parts of the image, do i need to separate then and load them as separate images or is their a better way to do it. I’m using AutoCAD to make my designs.

Hey Jules,
How many billions to a jillion?:slight_smile:

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a trillion. A jillion is a trillion billions. :innocent:

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Wow, almost the combined deficit of the USA & Canada. Seriously I would love to see native dxf support…

How many in a bazillion?