You’re familiar with stenciled letters. Stencil letters have bridges
that connect the holes of the letters to the space around the letter.
Something we come across quite often is shapes that don’t apply to this
same rule. We will call them nested shapes.
Nested shapes (shapes inside shapes) need to include bridges just
like that stenciled text we just talked about. Let’s say you wanted to
cut a donut from your metal sheet. Once the outer circle has been cut
out, there is nothing left to cut the inner hole from. You need
something to connect or hold onto that inner circle.
For example, let’s say you’re designing some Christmas ornaments. In
the example on the left below, I have highlighted “good cuts” with
green. These cuts are connected to the shape of the ornament. The “lost
cuts”, which are outlined in red, have no connection to the outside
shape and therefore will be lost.
Now for a more complex example. Maybe you designed a really cool wall
clock back using a geometric pattern. Just keep in mind that all your
cut-out shapes must somehow be connected to the outer shape.
Some steps or vocabulary may vary depending on your design software,
but we’ll go over the basics. In this example, I am using Adobe
Let’s go back to that Christmas ornament. When adding bridges, you
want to make them look like they are part of the intended design and not
just thrown on as a quick fix. You’ll also want to keep in mind things
like your material thickness and design complexity. Lines and shapes
should not be less that 1.5x your material thickness.
Let’s first remove any small and unnecessary shapes. You’ll see I removed three shapes from my design.
Next, let’s add our bridges. There are many ways to go about this.
This is my method. Draw a shape where you want your bridges to be
placed. Selecting both the shape of the reindeer and my bridge shapes,
use the Minus tool in the Pathfinder Palette. This will subtract the bridge shapes from the reindeer shape.
We now have bridges. View your design in Outline
mode to make sure no empty shapes have been created using the Minus
tool. I found three. These will need to be removed before proceeding.
I like to round out my corners. This is easier on the laser, and,
makes it easier to remove your shapes once cut. Once the reindeer shape
is as you want it, the last thing to do is cut it from the ornament
shape. Selecting the shape of the ornament and the reindeer, use the Exclude tool in the Pathfinder Palette.
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
File is a two-dimensional vector format file. If you're designing in Adobe Illustrator, please send us your original .ai file.
File is built at a 1:1 scale, preferably in inch-units
All text has been converted to outlines or paths
Reversed text has bridges or has been stencilized
All stray points, duplicate lines, empty objects and text areas have been removed
No shapes have open contours
All shapes have been united, combined or merged
All objects are on the same layer
All holes and cutouts are at least 1.5x material thickness
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.