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General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

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shiner2001
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General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby shiner2001 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:20 pm

This is probably going to come across as a very simplistic question, but I think it may be a helpful "first step" kind of topic, plus the design aspect of CNC is definitely where my shortcoming is. Basically, I'm looking for some advice on how many of you have found is the best way to integrate CAD and art software (for me it's ACAD and Inkscape) together to get to your final product. Obviously, ACAD is a great precision drawing tool, and Inkscape (or similar) is great for more artistic elements, but when you are looking at combining the two, I'm curious what some of your workflow is like.

Let's use a fireplace screen for an example. The actual shape and design of the screen would be (in my mind, correct me if I'm wrong) something that may be best designed in ACAD, but let's say all the artwork and custom pieces you want cut into it are designed in Inkscape. How do most of you find it easiest to combine the two to generate your DXF? Do you take your artwork into ACAD and manipulate it there? How much tweaking do you do at that point? Or do you try to get as much of your sizing and everything done before you introduce your art to your CAD drawing? Is there a way to take your CAD work into Inkscape or does it generally go the other direction?

I have found countless EXTREMELY helpful posts and videos that deal with specific questions on either drawing program, or how to perform a particular task that will help you along the way, but I'm kind of looking for a "bigger picture" kind of direction on how some of you take your ideas from "idea" to "final product" and how you integrate your multiple software programs to do that.

As always, many thanks in advance!
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby beefy » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:50 pm

I use Coreldraw in addition to "mechanical" 2D cad.

For the likes of what you are saying there's a "weld" button in Coreldraw. I can import the DXF from say ACAD into Coreldraw, position it with my "arty" drawing made in Coreldraw then "weld" them together so the 2 objects becomes one.

I've never done it the other way round, i.e. join in the mechanical cad, simply because it's so easy to do in Coreldraw. I'm guessing Inkscape has the same weld type function.
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby acourtjester » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:18 pm

There is another way if you are using SheetCam I assume ACAD has a DFX file output type. If it does you can import one of the drawings and then ad the other with the "new part" function and combine the two. Using the nesting or scaling functions to arrange them as a finished project.
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby kkroger » Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:26 pm

Most of what I do I do in CAD, I have Inkscape for design but I really don't know how to use it that well IMHO though I can do a lot in it.. I am just not comfortable in the Artsy stuff I am not really an Artsy guy...
Generally I do a Trace of an object in Inkscape then save it as a .DXF which is an AutoCAD specific format and it changes so an R14 may not be the same, I know Illustrator recognizes older .DXF formats.
If you feel comfortable in the Artsy Stuff, and don't need to do anything in CAD just use the .SVG as Sheetcam can import that.

That said I like Sheetcam, it is simple and very intuitive once you "Get" the terminology...
I am sure there are a lot of other CAM out there, Mastercam springs to mind and BobCAD/CAM

So I use CAD, and Inkscape for most design and Sheetcam for the Design Aspect, So far there hasn't been much that I CAN'T do... Most that I have begged off of is because of my plasma limitation.

Before I learned that SheetCAM can do scaling and how it works for scaling I would design in CAD to dimension then Scale it in Inkscape and Re-save as a .DXF there My buddy who is a graphics guy used to make drawings for me in Illustrator and when I would get them the Illustrator Scale was WAY off what I had, so I would need to re-size stuff in Inkscape..

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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby beefy » Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:43 pm

acourtjester wrote:There is another way if you are using SheetCam I assume ACAD has a DFX file output type. If it does you can import one of the drawings and then ad the other with the "new part" function and combine the two. Using the nesting or scaling functions to arrange them as a finished project.


I was talking welding and I don't think Sheetcam can do that. Just don't want to give the wrong info.

Take a horizontal thin rectangle and a vertical thin rectangle, and place one over the top of the other at their centre points. Welding makes the two objects become one and become a cross.

I'm not aware of Sheetcam being able to do that.
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby shiner2001 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:14 pm

Thanks a ton for all the replies so far, guys. I know that with practice I'll get better in both programs, and especially in integrating them together for a final piece. Just like with learning any new process, you never know when someone will say something in a way that makes it "click" for you, even if you've heard the same info presented differently before. At some point I'll have my "a-ha" moment!

I've also never used Corel, but for the price, I am hoping that I can get by on Inkscape for anything I need to do outside of ACAD. Also for what it's worth, I do use SheetCam, but in the limited time I've had it, I haven't done much editing within the program itself. Something else I need to just spend time on and learn what its capabilities are past what is obvious.
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby islander261 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:43 pm

Hi

I too use both ACAD and Inkscape. Most of my work is artsy stuff so usually I stay in Inkscape. I have used ACAD for over 30 years for work so I am very comfortable using it. One caution on ACAD is that the DXF file format has slowly changed over the years as more features have come to ACAD, always save DXFs from ACAD in the oldest format available, usually R12 or R14 these days, to insure compatibly with other programs. For the project you describe I would do the frame and critical mechanical design in ACAD. I would then do the artwork in Inkscape (or reverse order) and save the art work. I would then open a new file in Inkscape and import the DXF mechanical drawing. Remember that with stock defaults you will have to scale the DXF by 25.4 when you import to Inkscape if you used inches in your drawing. In the Inkscape document properties go and set the document scales to inches and set the paper to the drawing size, this will make your extents the same as the imported drawing. Now is the time to insert your artwork into the drawing. Once inserted and located use the path edit controls to attach the solid parts together as needed. Save the composite drawing in the SVG format for best portability. From this point you can use either Sheetcam which I am just learning or the Gcodetools extension to Inkscape which I have used a lot as the CAM to get the gcode for your cutter.

Arclight Dynamics has a series of Youtube videos on the basic use of Inkscape which are good.

I can help you with using Gcodetools with one qualification, I have a Torchmate system which automates the torch height control so I don't know how to cope with the higher end systems z axis and torch height control.

John

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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby shiner2001 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:13 pm

islander261 wrote:Hi

I too use both ACAD and Inkscape. Most of my work is artsy stuff so usually I stay in Inkscape. I have used ACAD for over 30 years for work so I am very comfortable using it. One caution on ACAD is that the DXF file format has slowly changed over the years as more features have come to ACAD, always save DXFs from ACAD in the oldest format available, usually R12 or R14 these days, to insure compatibly with other programs. For the project you describe I would do the frame and critical mechanical design in ACAD. I would then do the artwork in Inkscape (or reverse order) and save the art work. I would then open a new file in Inkscape and import the DXF mechanical drawing. Remember that with stock defaults you will have to scale the DXF by 25.4 when you import to Inkscape if you used inches in your drawing. In the Inkscape document properties go and set the document scales to inches and set the paper to the drawing size, this will make your extents the same as the imported drawing. Now is the time to insert your artwork into the drawing. Once inserted and located use the path edit controls to attach the solid parts together as needed. Save the composite drawing in the SVG format for best portability. From this point you can use either Sheetcam which I am just learning or the Gcodetools extension to Inkscape which I have used a lot as the CAM to get the gcode for your cutter.

Arclight Dynamics has a series of Youtube videos on the basic use of Inkscape which are good.

I can help you with using Gcodetools with one qualification, I have a Torchmate system which automates the torch height control so I don't know how to cope with the higher end systems z axis and torch height control.

John


Fantastic walkthrough, John, many thanks. I also had no idea that there was a Gcode generating feature/plugin for Inkscape. Tons of good info...thanks again!
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby tcaudle » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:29 pm

Not to start a firestorm or contraversy but.... unless you are a long time ACAD user and its just easier for you, both CorelDraw and Inkscape can be used as simple drafting tools. I have done exactly what you are describing (fireplace screens ) done to scale and all in Coreldraw . I was then able to use Corel layers and visually join all ofit together and even use a plugin for corel to make it isometric and give it some depth. To top it off I filed the pieces with the right colors and I could show it to the client (and put it in my catalog) . The base design was created from some vector clipart, Corel fonts and a little welding and Trimming of the objects. I don't see any point in jumping back and forth from a CAD to a Drawing unless you are drawing a building or complex machinery. Corel and Inkscape have snap to object so you can easily center one object over another or join up edges. A lot of it has to do with where you start. I have been using CorelDraw since 1985 and before that Micrografix Designer (later purchased by Corel and turned into Corel Technical Designer). Those are more pure CAD like tools but have a lot of the drawing tools. I use CorelDraw for everything from drawing mechanical shapes (like a fence overhead with the structure in square tube) to using it for catalog and manual creation since you can import and use dozens of bitmap formats as well as dozens of vector formats. Later version of CorelDraw like X5 and X6 have pretty good SVG export (keeps the arcs and stuff) and goes directly into SheetCAM . In doing plasma cutting for profit is is all about how fast you can get it from idea to cut file. Part of that is being able to give your customer a proof so they can sign off on it and you can get your money.

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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby CNCCAJUN » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:37 pm

tcaudle wrote:Not to start a firestorm or contraversy but.... unless you are a long time ACAD user and its just easier for you, both CorelDraw and Inkscape can be used as simple drafting tools. I have done exactly what you are describing (fireplace screens ) done to scale and all in Coreldraw . I was then able to use Corel layers and visually join all ofit together and even use a plugin for corel to make it isometric and give it some depth. To top it off I filed the pieces with the right colors and I could show it to the client (and put it in my catalog) . The base design was created from some vector clipart, Corel fonts and a little welding and Trimming of the objects. I don't see any point in jumping back and forth from a CAD to a Drawing unless you are drawing a building or complex machinery. Corel and Inkscape have snap to object so you can easily center one object over another or join up edges. A lot of it has to do with where you start. I have been using CorelDraw since 1985 and before that Micrografix Designer (later purchased by Corel and turned into Corel Technical Designer). Those are more pure CAD like tools but have a lot of the drawing tools. I use CorelDraw for everything from drawing mechanical shapes (like a fence overhead with the structure in square tube) to using it for catalog and manual creation since you can import and use dozens of bitmap formats as well as dozens of vector formats. Later version of CorelDraw like X5 and X6 have pretty good SVG export (keeps the arcs and stuff) and goes directly into SheetCAM . In doing plasma cutting for profit is is all about how fast you can get it from idea to cut file. Part of that is being able to give your customer a proof so they can sign off on it and you can get your money.

Pelican_30X36_Isometric.png


What he said . . . when I got into this I gave little thought to the graphics side of this. Why, because I have been doing AutoCAD for 20+ years . . . I have quickly learned being skilled in a program like Adobe, CorelDraw Or InkScape is a must. AutoCAd is great for parts, but is lacking for graphics work. So far I have dabbled in all three, not sure which way to go. I want ONE go to program & I am starting to think that may be Adobe Illustrator . . .

As for the skill shown in the below thread, well that is just a couple thousand hours away . . . :o
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=15069

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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby Nacs Fab » Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:12 pm

I agree with Steve above.

I have used AutoCAD from Release 11 up to our current 2015 in 23 years worth of experience. I will always use ACAD, Sheetcam and Mach3 to complete my products. Hit me up any time if you need help. Im glad to help out a fellow Plasma Cutter!
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby tnbndr » Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:27 am

I am with Nacs Fab in that I use AutoCAD 100% for design, but I have 18+ years using it for a living so I am very comfortable with all the commands, etc. I do use Stencil Fonts program for lettering and numbers and just insert into my Autocad design.
Find one program you want to learn and stick with it, they all do basically the same functions just sometimes named different.
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby CNCCAJUN » Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:50 am

tnbndr wrote:I am with Nacs Fab in that I use AutoCAD 100% for design, but I have 18+ years using it for a living so I am very comfortable with all the commands, etc. I do use Stencil Fonts program for lettering and numbers and just insert into my Autocad design.
Find one program you want to learn and stick with it, they all do basically the same functions just sometimes named different.


Do you trace in AutoCAD also?

I know we used to trace scanned drawings, but they were electrical . . .

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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby beefy » Fri Dec 12, 2014 3:29 pm

I too use Coreldraw for quite a bit of mechanical cad. I kept hearing Tom mentioning about using it for mechanical cad and looked into it more.

In the thread "Mariners Compass" viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15021 I drew that one up from scratch in Coreldraw. I have drawn parts in CD that would have been quicker to draw in a "proper" cad drawing program, but that was only because I wanted to say I'd done it, not for real practical reasons. Things like arcs meeting other arcs at a tangent, etc. A good 2D cad package automates a lot of that stuff.

I love having mechanical and arty drawing ability all in one place, plus I find generally CD is easier to use once you get to know it. You can quickly spin, move, flip, etc so easily.
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby tnbndr » Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:41 am

[quote][Do you trace in AutoCAD also/quote]

If you mean auto trace, no, but I do trace using lines, arcs, circles over the top of a photo or design. Usually only have to trace a portion and then mirror or copy to complete the rest of a design.
I also us a little know command in Autocad called "sketch". Once you play with the segment settings etc it becomes pretty easy to use. After the trace I combine all the segments into one polyline.
I am also very conscious of using snaps when creating designs. I have downloaded and bought designs where the segments are not even connected. Sheetcam does not like that as a lot of other programs don't either.
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Re: General workflow discussion about ACAD and Inkscape

Postby shiner2001 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:10 pm

Reviving an old one here....

Going back to the question about importing your drawings from Inkscape into ACAD, I'm having hell with that. When I save as a DXF out of Inkscape and open it in ACAD, it looks horrible. Is there something I am missing there?
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