Image layer support?

I currently use Inkscape to design objects to be cut on our makerspace’s laser, and make extensive use of layers to control what gets cut in a given burn run. It’s super-useful to make sure through holes, outlines, and everything else line up correctly, lets me have multiple text sets for our local maker event badges, build multiple sets of face graphics for the same game tokens…anyway, layers are awesome. Because the laser I currently cut with uses a virtual print driver, this works seamlessly with Inkscape–just set the active layers, hit print, and go.

Will my Glowforge offer the same ease of interaction with layers? Will the plugins handle this directly? If I open an Inkscape SVG or an Illustrator, Gimp, or Photoshop file in the web app, will I have control over what layers show up? If not, what’ll these do with layers, and what would GF’s recommended workflow be for this scenario be?

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Good question. I’d be very interested in the answer to this too. I will be using Photoshop and Illustrator for my designs too.

I know Dan has mentioned various times that the plugin interface allows you to map colors to power/speed settings. A little searching found this. watch-brad-feld-dan-shapiro-print-something

I was really glad to see that color-based power/speed assignment is a thing. This is similar, but not entirely the same thing.

To illustrate and expand on the badge example mentioned above, here’s a shot of one of the 2013 prototype badges: Sandwich-style design with Makevention logo, cutouts, and participant names on front, gears in the middle, and a back with cutouts..

For this, I’ve got separate layers with face and back outlines, face and back cutouts, Makevention logo text and line art, gears, and different gear text options. The real messy part comes in when adding participant names: I’ve got 5 layers worth of names and orgs for participants, all directly overlapping each other, all using the same set of colors to determine cut power and speed, and which need to be switched to burn the appropriate set of names as part of each face sheet run.

It’s not that this isn’t doable with color-based controls, but it’d be a huge pain to do so.

Gotcha, interesting question!
So to make sure I understand, your current workflow is something like:

  1. Open document in Inkscape
  2. Turn on the text layer(s) with the names for next run
  3. Print to laser
  4. Turn off text layers
  5. goto #2

We don’t yet know much about the software, so only @dan or one of the other Glowforge folks can say for sure. But… If you are either running a plugin against a “current view” of a drawing, or using an exported SVG, you would still be able to have all the text layers in Inkscape, have them all be the same color, and do a similar if slightly more cumbersome workflow.

I could also imagine a “batch this folder full of SVGs” command, but then you need to have some kind of automated registration. You might want to check out one of these other threads:

Yep–that’s the current workflow! And yeah, if the plugin just works against what’s currently visible, that should be almost exactly the same, and would be perfect for what I’m doing.

Repeatable camera-based indexing would be great for on-site registration or other situations where I might want to burn a base version of something in bulk, but allow customization later. It could also be made to work for name batching, but it’s not as ideal as just doing it all in one burn run.

Layers are good to think about. I’m not too used to them in Inkscape so I was just thinking of different images to represent the stack or manually breaking them apart. Having the whole object made up in layers and then a plugin to do cut layout. Makes sense.

In the feature hopper! I know that layer support is near and dear to @Tony’s heart.

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Excellent–thanks, Dan! And thanks to the Glowforge dev team!

I don’t have much experience with the free 3D modeling tools described in the forum. Will they automatically create 1/4" (or whatever material thickness) slices for a cutting layout?

If they don’t, perhaps GF could import the files and do that as a cloud pre-process for cutting.

Hey all!

As Dan mentioned, I definitely use layers liberally myself and have a similar flow.

Right now, we’re aiming to make the Glowforge print experience as close to a standard print metaphor as possible. So when you print on a piece of paper, you’d have the same workflow you describe-- set what you want to be visible and hit print. Once you do that, you get a “print” dialog box (sometimes with a preview and a few settings you can fiddle with).

In laser-land, things aren’t QUITE that simple because A) Illustrator doesn’t give you any ability to express laser intent (cut vs. engrave, light engrave vs. deep engrave, etc) and B) because our “paper” isn’t always 8.5x11, so positioning is important).

So the Glowforge flow is similar but a tiny bit more effort-ful than a standard print… But NOT MUCH. You create your design in Illustrator (or another design app). Hit “Print…” and you end up in what we call the Preview Screen-- it shows you the bed of your Glowforge and your design layered on top of it. You can drag your design around (to avoid knots in wood or minimize material waste) and you can set your settings for cut vs. engrave. The you hit the final “Print” button to send it to the glowforge, just how you’d hit the “Print” button in the dialog box in your normal design app. This print is saved in your Projects screen, so you can always do a quick re-print down the road without going starting from square one.

In short, you workflow can work just fine (and will probably be how I’d do it as well).


I’m going to ask this to go a step further…How does the glowforge determine the order of the cuts (shapes on a single layer)? I ask because I want the shapes within the main piece to be cut first, so there isn’t any shifting.

I generally make those lines a different color and then order them the way I want them to cut in the GF interface. There is a way to do it by setting specific colors as well. There’s a tutorial by @marmak3261 on Ordering Cuts by Color in the Designing for the Laser Matrix. :slightly_smiling_face:


@Jules answer is your best bet… Curious if it would change based on position of the layer on the bed. That is if the order changes if you were to rotate the object or move it elsewhere on the bed… Color differences on the lines is still the best way to ensure order…

Actually, no. It’s all based on color. At least for the default order. You can change the order manually simply by dragging. But it was always open up in its default order, based solely on color.

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But I’m curious if it was all one color (same color lines) - say a bunch of random bubble circles some inside of others. and you tell it to cut. It "“decides/calculates” which circles to do based on position maybe for the order. then what if you grab the entire design and rotate it ,or move to other corner of the tray… Would with whatever algorithm it uses to traverse a pattern change if the orientation of the same pattern is different… May need to test that…

OH! I think you are referring to how the machine decides which part of the mini-job to complete first?

For example, if your first step is to cut 6 stars, are you trying to figure out why it will choose to start on star #3 first? Or are you trying to figure out why it typically won’t complete an entire star (if the lines are not all joined in your editing software beforehand) before moving to another area and then coming back later to complete the shape?

If I’m correct, this is less about the order of a bunch of jobs based on color, but more about the algorithm by which the machine chooses to complete a single job consisting of multiple shapes.

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That, to my understanding, is correct. For example, I had a single-color object that consisted of shapes in the form of letters. I don’t know what decision-making process took place, but it decided that “H” should come first, then “SE” and then “OU” to spell “HOUSE.” Similarly, a while back, I had what appeared to be a few paragraphs. At first, in multiple locations, it left out the letter “s.” This was a 2-hour job, mind you, so I wasn’t happy while I was watching it. Guess what! It went back towards the end and did all of the missing “s!” So it has some logic to what it does, but I don’t think it’s meant for human understanding. :slight_smile:


Indeed…you got that right! I’ve experienced the same thing and it drives the OCD part of me a little nuts. But, as long as it does all the work, I can live with it.

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