Finding and Fixing Open Contours
A common issue we run into when receiving design files is open contours. An open contour (also known as broken geometry or open paths) is whenever you have a shape that doesn't connect all the way around. This can happen quite easily, even on accident, while you're designing. The issue is that the laser can't follow a broken path.
Making sure your paths are all closed before exporting your file is key. Viewing your design in Outline (CMD + Y) mode periodically while designing will help you find these. You can use the Join (CMD + J) tool to close these up.
Sometimes, when you have too many vector points around a tight corner, the laser misinterprets this. Your file will show a closed path, but the laser software will sometimes translate that as a break. If you're noticing a crazy amount of vector points on your shapes, using the Simplify Path tool will help.
I work a lot in Illustrator. Trying to zoom in and find open paths can be tedious at times. I found a couple free plug-ins that can save you some time and frustration.
The Select Menu plug-in adds some options to your Select > Object menu. It will find and select all open paths in your design.
The Concatenate Tool will intelligently join paths. Using the Join tool in Illustrator only allows you to join one item at a time. If you were to select ALL open paths, the Join tool would join them all together as one. Concatenate allows you to join multiple open paths at once, while keeping the shapes separate.
When saving from Adobe Illustrator, please send us the .ai file. Before you upload your file to us, be sure to go through the pre-flight checklist:
My file is 2D
My file is built at a 1:1 scale
All my type is outlined
I have no open contours
Reversed type has bridges
I have cleaned up all stray points, empty objects and text areas
All my objects are on the same layer
All holes and cutouts are at least 1.5x material thickness
No feature or detail is smaller than 0.010"
We're here to help.
Not sure about your design? Have a question or want advice? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll get back to you as soon as we can. The more we can help you, the more it helps us provide you with the best and quickest laser-cut parts.