Merge Roadway Paths for Maps Question

So this is a plea for Inkscape/Illustrator help.

I have map project I am working on where I have pulled road data from USGS as svg paths but there is a problem with these paths. Often for highways there are several overlapping paths and most roads are broken into a new path every block. This leads the Glowforge to cut hundreds of short paths instead of a few long ones. Does anyone know if there is a way to automatically merge overlapping paths in Inkscap/Illustrator as doing it manually is not feasible. I have attached a picture example of the problem I’m seeing. Thanks in advance for your help


I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is…as long as you don’t have path duplications, where the laser travels over the same path twice, the Glowforge interface should be able to handle it, even if the paths are disconnected.

The bad news is…there’s no easy way to fix that. Watching it is going to drive you crazy because the laser will skip all over the place. :neutral_face:

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If you have Adobe Illustrator, you should be able to select all of the paths, choose Object-Path-Outline Stroke (set outline thickness to zero), then use the Pathfinder Tool to “Unite” all of the paths. This will create a single object for the Glowforge to work with and will also decrease the print time.


In inkscape, there are a few things you can try.

Select all, then do path->union. See what that gets you. If it doesn’t fix your duplicate problems you might be able to use the node merge tool, but I am not sure you’ll get a good result.

Are you dead set on cutting/scoring? Engraving might be a better plan here.

Select all, set your stroke width to what you want. Choose object->stroke to path.

Now you have two options:

1- select all, path->Union. Now you should have one filled shape ready to engrave. This may be a pretty big vector though, if you’re worried about its complexity (Union is usually pretty quick but if you’re worried do option 2)

2- select all, set the full color to be the same (black, probably), and export selection to png. Now you can import that png back into an svg for engraving.

Beyond that if you want more assistance I think you’ll need to upload a file for people to mess with. There are techniques to help you find duplicates (stroke thickness/opacity trick, for example). All depends on how much time you want to put in.


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