Use the Inkscape Laser Tool Plugin for Cutting and Etching

With the Laser Tool plugin for Inkscape, you can turn your vector designs into G-code to use with a laser cutter or engraver.

A blue laser cutting a material

The Inkscape Laser Tool plugin was developed to facilitate laser engraving and cutting. It offers a range of features that make it an ideal choice for users seeking to add an extra layer of quality and precision to their projects. It enables you to quickly and easily generate the G-code you can use in your 3D printer or laser machine.

Once you install this plugin, it will allow you to translate the vector paths created in Inkscape into a G-code file. G-code comprises a series of commands used in laser cutting, engraving, and 3D printing. This enables users to create complex shapes and designs that can be easily cut or engraved.

You can control your machine’s power and speed with the Inkscape Laser Tool plugin. There is also an option to set the number of passes the machines will take when working on your project. In addition, you can turn your machine on or off while in the plugin.

Inkscape has various features that allow you to prepare your designs for laser engraving and control your machine. Some of these include:

  • Laser ON and OFF command: It will enable you to turn your laser on and off.
  • Travel and laser speed: The travel speed allows you to set the speed of the machine when the laser is OFF. The laser speed, however, is for setting the speed when the machine is ON. Both are in mm/min.
  • Laser power: Useful for setting the power of your machine.
  • Directory: Useful for storing files.
  • Filename: For naming your project or file.
  • Live preview: It shows the path the software generates.
  • Apply: You can click this when you want to run the converter.
  • All units: For changing the units. For example, from mm to inches.

To work with this plugin, you can follow these steps…

Step 1: Download the Plugin

To download this plugin, go to the J-Tech Photonic website, scroll down, and you will see an option to download the plugin.

An option to download the Inscape laser plugin

Step 2: Install the Plugin to Inkscape

To install the plugin to Inkscape, extract the files from the zip file. Once extracted, copy and paste the two files to the Inkscape > share > extensions path.

installing the inkscape laser plugin

Once you install it, it will show up in the Extension > Generate Laser Gcode > J Tech Photonics Laser Tool section of the Inkscape software.

the laser plugin extension in inkscape

Step 3: Create a Project and Convert It to a Path

You will need to create a project to use the plugin. For example, in our case, we can write a text phrase and then convert it to G-code.

Creating a text project in inkscape

Once you create the project, you need to convert it to a path or a vector file that you will turn into G-code. To do this, go to Path > Object to path or use the command Shift + Ctrl + C.

converting the object to a path

Step 4: Using the Inkscape Laser Tool Plugin

Go to Extensions > Generate Laser Gcode > J Tech Photonics Laser Tool. Ensure that the laser ON and OFF commands are set to M03 and M05, respectively. You can also fill out the other sections of the Laser Tool dialog with their respective information.

dialog box of inscape laser plugin

In the Laser Power section, you should set it between 0 and 255 if you are using a 3D printer or any J Tech firmware. However, if you use GRBL firmware between 0.9 and 1, set it between 0 and 12000.

In the Passes section, set the number of passes based on your material; however, if you are engraving, leave it as 1. Once you have filled in all the sections, click Apply.

applying after filling the dialog box

You will see the highlighted path, and the G-code will be saved in your specified directory.

Using the Inkscape Laser Tool plugin, you can create G-code from your vector design with just a few clicks. The plugin not only works with Inkscape, but also with other vector editing software such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.

Following the above steps, you can generate G-code ready for your 3D printer or laser machine. Just be sure to set the proper travel, laser speed, and laser power depending on your machine.


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