Inkscape for creating cutting plotters output cuts?

Date: 12 Jan, 2009
Posted by: admin
In: design, fonts & graphics|Uncategorized

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Following a question about Inkscape and support for cutting plotters by Cricut, , I’ve looked at some cutting software from SCAL ( ) and Cricut and am having a bit of a What-The-Flip moment.

SCAL & Cricut plotting and cutting applications

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.

Send HPGL to your plotter and it should cut

This comment from an Ask Slashdot ( ) 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.

Now you just need to make the HPGL!

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 ( ). 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 ( ) 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.

About the vinyl cutter hardware

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.

7 Responses to "Inkscape for creating cutting plotters output cuts?"

admin says:

0.47 isn’t released yet so those are proposed features.

I’m currently testing the 0.46+svn self-compiled as “Inkscape 0.46+devel r20652, built Feb 8 2009” and there’s no sign of an HPGL export. (Nor it appears has it made it to sk1’s UniConverter

Unless you know better Alexandre?

Are you still working on this? I’ve got some helpful info… I’ve been trying this myself using an old Datagraph plotter. I have written direction on using any old computer with a Knoppix CD to convert an Adobe Illustrator file to HPGL then sending it to the serial port plotter. I’ll post it if you want.

Right now I’m trying to upgrade to doing this with a Cricut.

Angi says:

Actually, Design studio is just another way for Provocraft to make money off of people.

However, SCAL has the ability to inport SVG files and cut them, since SCAL works with the cricut, it allows users to stop purchasing the cartridges and import any type of vector graphics file into it and cut

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.

YellowLab says:

Windows Build Version 21627 (June 2009) of version .47 Inkscape does have an HPGL export option. Didn’t fully test this, but it looks like .47 of Inkscape will support this output.

admin says:

HPGL is via UniConverter from the sK1 project. It’s available in the Linux version of Inkscape too. There are quite a few questions and at least one blueprint on if you’re interested and need to find out more.


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