Need help preparing files for cutting

I have been using photoshop to produce my files. The engraving is great, but obviously photoshop is not suitable for cutting. I took the cut-out layer and saved it as an .svg in Adobe Illustrator. But that doesn’t work even when I attempt to cut it alone.

I am a complete newbie with Illustrator, however.

Can someone help me convert these files into something I can both engrave and cut? I would be willing to pay for the service, though I would also appreciate learning how to do it myself too.

Thank you.

It’s tough to recommend a method without knowing exactly what you’re trying to cut. There are a lot of different approaches depending on the desired outcome.

First thing, is that SVG is basically a container-type file. Meaning it can contain both raster (pixel-based) elements, and vector elements. Just saving as an SVG won’t convert a raster element into a vector element.

To achieve a cut, you’ll need a vector path that has a stroke. The Glowforge will process the cut path by following the vector path.


I’m guessing you left the cut layer as a raster image. Cuts need to be vectors. In Illustrator you can do an Image Trace that should give you what you want. Then in the GFUI you set that object to Cut (it may be set to Cut already, but if it’s not…).

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Start by looking through here Community Glowforge Tutorials: Table of Contents. If you go to the Designing for Laser section and scroll down you’ll see a list of some basic tutorials.
One you might find helpful is this Adobe Illustrator - Auto-Trace, but I really would recommend working through several of them if you’re new to Illustrator.

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Illustrator’s a great program - we’ve got a whole Matrix full of little mini-tutorials that will get you started using it effectively.

What you are wanting to do is called an Auto-Trace or a Live Trace depending on your version of Illustrator. Tutorials for that appear on line 47 in the Matrix, or here is a direct link:


Thank you! I was able to get a file ready that would cut. Unfortunately, I did not realize one cut would not be enough. So now I am assuming multiple cuts are required for 1/8 inch material. Also, though it worked before, now when I upload a vector drawing, it will not move in the app. If I upload the engraving layer, that moves fine. But it seems impossible to move the vector layer for the cuts. This is now causing a lot of frustration.

As you might imagine, it’s the material that makes the difference. It’ll cut through most, if not all, 1/8" woods and acrylic and many other materials in 1 pass. On the other hand, it will never cut through 1/8" steel regardless of the number of passes.

It was birch plywood. I lived and learned. My biggest issue now is why the app won’t allow me to move the cut design, but only allows the engraving design to be moved. It makes it impossible to do anything with the cut design stuck out of position.

I usually use medium maple PG ply settings and drop the speed by 10 points & it cuts great.

Mmmm… I’m trying to think of a reason, but… The only thing I can think of is if there’s some element of it that’s really far off in one direction that you can’t see it on the screen? You might want to take both of your elements (engrave and cut) and carefully select and copy them into a new file and see if you can move it then.

Both files were identical in their size: 10.75x11". It was only the .svg one that I was having difficulty. I figured out how to combine both files in Illustrator and now I am having no problems anymore. My latest challenge is that illustrator seems to want to put a box around my file that then is cut, which I don’t want and limits my using the scrap part of the board later.

Slowly but surely, however, I am making progress and I have managed to solve a lot of the issues that have been causing me a lot of frustration. I love the machine, but there has been a very steep learning curve.

I’m glad to hear you were able to get this problem resolved with some help from the others in this thread - thanks, everyone! I noticed that you started another thread regarding the issues with preparing your designs in the app, so I followed up there.

I’m going to close this thread, but if you run into any other trouble using the Glowforge app, please start a new topic or email us at Happy printing!