Following a question about Inkscape and support for cutting plotters by Cricut, , I’ve looked at some cutting software from SCAL ( craftedge.com ) and Cricut and am having a bit of a What-The-Flip moment.
The Cricut cutting machines are apparently “serial” [ie RS232] with a USB to serial interface but can be used independent of a computer. Cricut sell you a cartridge for each different font letter shape or geometric shape (eg outline of the US states) you want to cut. So, what exactly does SCAL or DesignStudio (from Cricut) do other than allow you to lay up letters and shapes on a A4 workspace?
Well, it seems nothing except that DesignStudio knows how to properly interface with the Cricut hardware.
This comment from an Ask Slashdot ( http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=41651&cid=4401050 ) suggests you “just” need to convert line art into a HPGL format and output it to the plotter.
Indeed Graphtec [UK] who make the relatively cheap hobby kit like the Graphtec CC200, etc., advise that HP drivers that handle HPGL be used for all old models for which Graphtec plotter drivers are not provided. Craft ROBO (the selling name for Graphtec’s cheap plotters) provide an Adobe Illustrator ouput plugin to allow cutting with Craft ROBO directly from Illustrator.
Inkscape Bug number 171190 has similar info posted against it and elsewhere I found that sK1 had a proposal for HPGL output format as part of Hackontest but am not sure if this has been implemented in sK1 or UniConverter as yet ( sk1project.org ). This [French language] post appears to say that HPGL output was implemented from revision 511 and that it’s necessary to compile yourself as the major distros don’t have it yet – but my French is a bit rusty.
There’s software at Berlios ( developer.berlios.de/projects/hpgs ) to go from HPGL to EPS or PNG or similar (ie the opposite of what we require here).
Lastly ImageMagick’s “convert” program appears to output HPGL files, you just need a way then to forward the file to your printer (pipe it through “lp” in linux??). That way you could use only Inkscape and save $150 USD.
Some suppliers of Vinyl cutters:
Comparative discussionn of cutters:
Though it seems that you’d be better off nowadays (if you can afford it) to use a desktop laser cutter that runs as if it were a printer.