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Inkscape Laser Plug-In

Using the Inkscape Laser Tool Plug-In

In case you didn’t see the overview of the new laser G Code creating plug-in, you can get the overview here:

Download and Overview

This tutorial will go over how to create drawings and text in inkscape and then create the G Code file needed to run on your 3D printer or CNC machine.  We will cover a couple of common items that you can do in inkscape and then use with your laser.

Drawing Text for cutting/engraving
Drawing Objects for cutting/engraving
Drawing Multiple Objects for cutting/engraving
Importing Pictures or Images for cutting/engraving
Creating C Gode for Engraving and Cutting on the Same Drawing

Overview

The new plug-in allows for multiple commands for laser on and off for all the different versions of printers as well as the ability for multiple passes for cutting.  Here is a description of the features of the plug-in.

  • Laser ON Command:  The command for turning ON the laser.  For example, M03 or M106.J Tech Laser Tool inkscape picture 2
  • Laser OFF Command: The command for turning OFF the laser.  For example, M05 or M107.
  • Travel Speed:  The speed of the machine when the laser is OFF in mm/min.
  • Laser Speed:  The speed of the machine when the laser is ON in mm/min.
  • Laser Power: If you have PWM control, then you can adjust this.  For J Tech firmware and most 3D printers use a number between 0 and 255 (255 being full power).  For GRBL 0.9 and 1 standard, use a number between 0 and 12000 (12000 being full power).   If you don’t have PWM, keep at max power (either 255 or 12000).
  • Power On Delay:  This will turn on the laser and wait to move until the delay is complete.  It is used to heat up the material and initiate the burning process.  Delay in ms for 3D printers and seconds for GRBL.
  • Passes:  If cutting, this will repeat the entire path by the number of passes.  If engraving leave as 1.
  • Pass Depth:  This will move Z axis down by this amount for each pass.  For example, 3mm piece of material with 3 passes might use 1mm per pass to cut all the way through.
  • Directory:  The directory to store the file.
  • Filename:  Name of the file.
  • Add numeric suffix to filename:  Adds a number to the name in case there already is a file with the same name in the directory.
  • All Units: Change the units to either mm or inches.  This will make everything in inches or mm.
  • Live preview:  Shows the path being generated.
  • Apply:  Click to run the converter.

*We change the look of the plugin sometimes, so the pictures of the plugin might be slightly different.  This overview section will always have the newest plugin explanations.

Drawing Text

Engraving text into materials is a very common need for the laser upgrade.  Here is how to accomplish this.

Step 1:  Use the TEXT tool in inkscape to draw your text.  The bottom left corner is you 0,0 location of you machine.

1 Text Draw

 

Step 2: You need to convert the object into a path.   All items drawn in inkscape are a vector object.  You can convert them into a “path” that will actually “draw” the object.  The laser then takes this path to generate the G Code.

2 object to path

Step 3: Under “Extensions” click on “Generate G Code” and “J Tech Photonics Laser Tool.

3 Laser Engraver Pluggin

 

Step 4: Fill out the Laser Tool Dialog.  For more information on the specific items click here.

4 Laser properties 1

 

Step 5:  When finished filling out the form, click APPLY to start.

5 apply

 

Step 6:   The laser path will be outlined and the code will be generated in the location provided in the tool.

6 outline laser path

 

Here is an example of the G Code file produced.

 

7 G Code File

Drawing Other Objects

Similar to the text, you can draw anything you want with the other tools.  Just at the end when you want to convert it to G Code for the laser.  Here is an example of a swirl:

swirl

Drawing Multiple Objects

In order to draw multiple objects in the same toolpath, you must first group all of the objects and convert to path before generating.  Here is an example:

Step 1:  Draw your separate objects.

1 objects

Step 2:  Group your objects.

2 Group

Step 3:  Turn them all into a path.

3 path

Step 4:  Start the Laser Tool converter.

4 apply

Step 5:  Press Apply and run the converter.

5 laser path

Importing Black and White Pictures

A cool thing to engrave are black and white “high contrast” images that only have two colors.  Here are the steps to engrave them.

Step 1:  Import your image on “file -> Import”.  Note it is two colors.

1 import image

 

Step 2:  Trace the outline of the image to get the path for the laser.

2 Trace Outline

 

Step 3:  Using edge detection, update the image and press “OK” to apply the changes.

3 Outline

 

Step 4:  Delete the original layer underneath the new edge detected layer.

4 Delete

Step 5:  Select “object to path” to create laser path.

5 Path

 

Step 6:  Generate your laser G Code file by entering your parameters and pressing “Apply”.  The laser path will be outlined.

6 Generate

 

Creating C Gode for Engraving and Cutting on the Same Drawing

For cutting and engraving on the same file in inkscape, you need to make at two “objects”.  One object will be the engraving and one will be the cut outline.  Select the engraving object and click “object to path” and run the inkscape plugin.  Put the engraving laser speed for the engraving.  Then, click on the cut object (like a line border) and click “object to path” and run the plugin again.  This time, put the speed to be a cutting speed (a lot slower) and use multiple passes if needed.  Change the name of the file and press apply (or have the “add numeric suffix” button enabled).  You will now have a “engraving” G Code file and a “cut” g code file.  You can either combine the two in the same file, or you can run the engraving code first, then run the cut code *without* moving the part you are working on.  It should all line up if nothing moves.

You can do this process for as many objects as you want to have different parameters in the inkscape Laser Tool Plugin.

In this example, we have imported a drawing we would like to engrave at one speed and then cut the outside border.

Step 1: Ungroup objects into separate items.  *note* If you have drawn several things on your drawing by yourself, then you would do the opposite.  You would group your items you want the same parameters together.

1 - Ungroup objects

Step 2:  Select items you want to have the same parameters.  If you want to engrave items all at the same speed for example.  Hold the shift key down to select multiple objects.

2 - Select objects

Step 3:  Press “object to path”

3 - Object to Path

Step 4: Open Laser Tool Plugin.  Make sure “Live Preview” is Unchecked (Live preview assumes you want the whole page engraved the same).  Then, enter parameters for the engraving and press “Apply”.  This will generate a G Code file for the engraving portion of the drawing.

4 - Engaving toolpath

Step 5:  Deselect the engraving objects and just select the cut object (or objects).  Press “object to path” again and then change the parameters in the Laser Tool Plugin.  In this case, we lowered the laser speed and increased the passes to 5.  Press “Apply” to generate another G Code file for the cutting.

5 - Cutting toolpath

Step 6:  G Code files.

You now will have at least two separate G Code files, one for engraving and one for cutting (in this example).  You can either run them one after another as long as you do not move your workpiece.  Alternatively, you can combine the files into one using a text editor and run it at the same time.

 

So there it is!  Now you are ready to start creating!

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12 Responses to Inkscape Laser Plug-In

  1. Amy June 15, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    This is great! Looks like you’ve been experimenting!

    Great software here!

  2. Mauricio ZA November 24, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    This is great, I got some good and nice burnings with nice finishes, but I´m getting son vertical lines, seems to be a problem with the g-code because those lines are made when the laser doesn’t turn off, its not a driver problem, do you have some mail or something similar to get help with this problem, I’m working with a 1w 445nm laser, for test.

    • jtechphotonicscom March 10, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

      If you are getting vertical lines then there is a problem with the output file. In large imported images, sometimes the output file will miss a “space” between the Y coordinate and the Feedrate command. This will cause the G Code parser to ignore the line and assume you meant “0”, which sends the laser to the bottom of the engraving.

      To fix this: Open the file in a text editor (like notepad for example). Then, use the find and replace function. Let’s say you put the laser on feedrate as 500. Then, find all instances of “F500″ and replace it with ” F500″. Note the space before the “F”. Do this for the laser off feedrate as well. Save your file and it should fix the problem.

  3. remon January 4, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

    please i need help during exporting gcode for laser cutting it goes very fast during cutting straight lines which maked me problems …
    so could you help me fixing that problem

    • jtechphotonicscom March 10, 2016 at 11:57 am #

      We have made a new version of the inkscape plugin that removes the G0 (rapid) commands and replaces them with G1 (coordinated motion with feedrate control). Rapid commands take a separate feedrate that is in your machine. Coordinated motion G1 commands will follow the feedrate from the G Code file. Download and use the new plugin. If you have files you want to change, then use a text editor and “find and replace” G0 to G1.

  4. ellisgl March 22, 2016 at 10:32 am #

    How do I get it to do the fill, instead of just the outline?

  5. Jager April 4, 2016 at 2:10 am #

    I have the new version, after replacing the G0 to G1, while moving the laser is always switched on independently and does not respond to the Laser Off command is inserted.
    If G0 return all works.

    • Jager April 4, 2016 at 2:18 am #

      There is still a problem, pointing out the command to turn off the M107 for example.
      The plugin creates GCode type M107 S0 but the program does not work out.
      If I open the file, I delete the command and retype the exact same keyboard after you save the file you are running.
      What could be the problem? The discrepancy between the code page?

  6. Cale April 24, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    I need a setting that will only laser ON Horizontal Lines and OFF on all other directions. Is there a way you could guide me to place that in the code? Thank you

  7. Bill May 19, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    I need to invert the Y axis. My text is coming out flipped horizontally like you would see in a mirror.

    • jtechphotonicscom June 13, 2016 at 3:51 pm #

      Hi Bill,

      The default home position for the inkscape plugin is the BOTTOM LEFT of the table. I think if you have your home position set on your CNC to the top right this might happen. Maybe?

  8. Cale July 13, 2016 at 11:14 am #

    So I built a horizontal laser code. Works pretty good. Here you go.
    https://github.com/warkilt/inkscape-laser

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