Tips and Tricks for cutting lots of stuff at once

Hey everyone!

First off, I would be totally happy if someone says “do a search on X” for this but I don’t know what the “X” is that will get me what I’m looking for, so instead I’ll describe my problem and maybe someone can point me to the right thing.

I am making a bunch of little “tokens” for my son’s 100th day of school. Essentially he made a pencil drawing of his school’s logo and I’m cutting out 100 1" circles with his drawing engraved. This is already happening and it’s almost done (been going for 3+ hours so far). Here’s where the question comes in.

I first tried in Illustrator to make a 10x10 grid of these (1" circle with the graphic inside embedded). This resulted in a very very long save time and a file that was nearly 50MB. The glowforge app was not happy with me. Next I tried the same, but I grouped all the circles and I tried to group and rasterize all the image parts thinking/hoping I would get one big image that it could do by sweeping all the way across and all the way down and then going back and doing all the cuts. This got me to ~45MB and it loaded in glowforge but it said “my design has a bunch of colors and would take up my whole weekend” or something like that. So I sent back again. I tried another number of ways but nothing seemed like it was going to be happy so what I ended up doing was saving a version with just one of the tokens and then using copy/paste and the power of doubling, created a 10x10 grid of the tokens in the :glowforge: interface. This resulted in a time of 3 hours 35 minutes or so, but each individual graphic is getting individual attention one at a time so there’s probably 50% or more “wasted” effort on the sides of each image as the head tries to slow and go back, instead of only doing that stuff at the edges.

Is there a way that I could or should build this sort of file out in the future so that it will a) load in the :glowforge: interface b) minimize engraving time and c) work real good. :slight_smile:

Any help or suggestions or “search for X” where is X is the specific name of whatever I’m trying to do would be much appreciated.

Sounds like you have it figured correctly. The Glowforge interface will treat each one of those individual rasters as a separate image from an operations standpoint. Rasterizing them all into one big image is generally a good way to go…huge time saver.

So the trick is:

  1. Place the raster image copies in Illustrator with the cut lines around them.
  2. Hide all of the cut lines. (Easiest way is to use the Select Same option. You can group them all into one group if they have the same color stroke.)
  3. Select and rasterize all of the visible raster images into one big raster image.
  4. Unhide the cutlines.

That’s going to give you the quickest, most accurate, alignment. (If you fill up the bed though, it’s still going to take about 3 hours or so to engrave it. You can speed it up a little by using the Draft Photo engrave settings.)

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This should have resulted in something that was ~10" x 10" plus a little bit in between. That should be a good deal less than 3.5 hours, right?

Are the file sizes I posted what you’d expect for an SVG of that size (100 circles plus some raster data)?

Thank you :slight_smile:

No, the determinant is actually the vertical travel distance. It just takes time for the head to move back and forth across the bed, decelerate at either end, move up one step, and do it again.

Another thing that will impact the time is the LPI that you are using for your settings…High Def is going to take a lot longer, since you are burning over area that the machine has already burned. To reduce the time, you can use the Draft settings, which are going to give complete coverage without any gaps, but which will only burn over an area once. Anything over 195 gives a good engrave, but the lower ranges do not duplicate as much movement unnecessarily. :slightly_smiling_face:

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If they are separate raster objects you’d be smart to combine them into one. Your file would be smaller and the laser would traverse back and forth across the whole design instead of each separate engrave.

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