In this tutorial we’ll show you how to merge, weld and exclude your objects in Illustrator.
Making sure your objects are combined correctly is important for
laser cutting. Using the tools in the Pathfinder Palette, you’ll be able
to combine shapes and remove them from another – resulting in clean,
closed paths. We recommend exploring these commands on your own and
discovering how they can help. We’ll go over the two most used and most
important tools in this tutorial.
This is best explained by example. Let’s pretend you’re me and you
want your logo cut out on a nice little stand. You’d start with
something like this:
Looks great, right? Well, before we get too excited, let’s view our design in Outline mode (CMD/CTRL + Y). I suggest doing this numerous times as you’re designing.
Uh oh, see all those overlapping lines? I see that I have multiple
objects all piled on top of one another. I also see a couple stray
points, an open contour and a line that isn’t connected. There’s an easy
fix for this.
Select this group and find your Pathfinder Palette. Click the Unite tool. Select all and you’ll see that everything is connected and nothing overlaps.
Excluding Shapes (making holes)
The example above was pretty simple, because I had already made use of the Exclude
tool. It seems like a good time to talk about that. The exclude tool
lets you reverse one shape out of another while making it all one
object. For this example we’ll just look at the laser gun.
To start I basically have one gray shape, with white shapes layered
on top, where the holes should be. If we were to select all and apply
black, you’ll see that I don’t really have holes. I need to make these
one object and cut those areas out. Select both the base and the holes
shapes. Find the Pathfinder Palette and click the Exclude Tool.
Now I have one shape with the appropriate areas cut out from the main shape. One thing to keep in mind when using the exclude tool is you may end up with some empty shape objects. An easy way to see if you have empty objects is to move your main object slightly and select all. You’ll quickly see if you have any empty shapes.
When designing in Illustrator, please send us your files in .ai
format. As always, before you upload your design, go through the usual
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
Cut-out text (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 60% material thickness