Art2Gcode allows you to open an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) and apply toolpaths to the geometry contained within the file. The toolpaths are used to create G-Code specifically for your Toolbotics Tooli machine - the code tells Tooli what to do when you run the job. The SVG may have been created in a vector drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, or downloaded from a website. You can also do some basic drawing yourself within Art2GCode.
To launch the Art2GCode Tool Box go to www.art2Gcode.com. You will be prompted to choose which toolhead you plan to use when you run your job on Tooli. Selecting the correct toolhead for the job is important so that the GCode that is created is correct for the tool that will be loaded in the machine. The Multitool toolhead is used for all the tools except for the Airbrush.
Once you choose a toolhead, Art2Gcode will open a new workspace. The workspace is specifically set up for the chosen toolhead. You can tell which workspace you are in by referring to the tab name in the browser or the URL. In the image shown above there are tabs open with the Art2Gcode Tool Box, the multitool workspace and the Airbrush workspace. The multitool workspace is the active tab as shown by the URL.
You will be prompted to specify the type of Tooli you have (G1 or G2), what size your Tooli is (small, medium, large) - select which options match your Tooli. Art2Gcode creates a page for you to work with based on the work area of your Tooli, so it is important to select the correct size. Tooli can only process toolpaths that are on the page.
You will also need to input the resolution of the SVG you will be working with. This can be determined in a number of ways. If you SVG was created in Adobe Illustrator it will be 72ppi, if it was created in Inskcape it will be 90ppi, if it was created in CorelDraw it will be 96ppi. If your SVG was created in one of those programs then you can simply choose it from the menu. For advance users there is a custom setting where you can input a custom value. Once you have specified these values click OK.
Not sure where your SVG originated? Locate the SVG on your computer - right click on it and open it in a text editor. In the header of the SVG it will indicate what software it was created in.
Art2Gcode features a simple toolbar that displays along the top of the workspace, below is an explanation of each tool:
Arrow - Used to select and deselect elements.
Pan - Used move around within the workspace.
Show grid - Toggle to show and hide the grid and toolpath indicators on the page. Use this when you just want to look at the geometry without any distractions.
Pencil - Used to draw freehand lines.
Pen - Used to draw from point to point. Click to add a corner point. Click and drag to add a curve point.
Point edit - Used to select, move and adjust points. Red dots will indicated the selected point and and it's handles. Handles are used to adjust the curve that joins the point.
Show toolpaths - Toggles between displaying the direction of the toolpath and the thickness of the toolpath. The direction is shown by green arrows on the toolpath. The thickness of the specified tool is shown as a pink line width on the toolpath.
Add bridges - This tool is only available in the Multitool workspace. Used to add bridges to rotary tool toolpaths. A bridge is a segment in the toolpath that the tool lifts for the leave unprocessed. This feature is for use with the rotary tool to assist holding shapes in place while being processed. With your toolpath selected click the tool and you will be prompted to enter the distance between bridges, the width of the bridge and the height of the bridge.
Open Image Painter - This tool is only available in the Airbrush tool workspace. Click to open Image Painter. Image Painter is an application contained within Art2Gcode. It allows you to import an image file (.jpg or .png file format), adjust the image and apply output settings. These settings are used to create G-Code specifically for the airbush tool.
Zoom area - Used to zoom to a specific area of the page. Click and drag to specify the area to zoom to.
Zoom-in - Used to zoom in incrementally. Click on the page to zoom in.
Zoom-out - Used to zoom out incrementally. Click on the page to zoom out.
Zoom page - Used to reset the magnification so the whole page fits in the window.
Move to X0 Y0 - Click to move the selected geometry to the coordinates X0 Y0. This coordinate is known as the page origin, the bottom-left exent of the selected geometry will be repositioned to the bottom-left corner of the page.
Move to centre - Click to reposition the selected geometry to centre on the page.
Open an SVG
To open an SVG from the file menu select Open SVG File. Browse to select the SVG file you require. Click Open. The artwork will appear on the page with the lines highlighted in red. The red highlight means the artwork is currently selected.
Position your geometry
To position the artwork on the page - let's say we want it near the bottom left hand corner... click Transform - Move to - and enter the coordinates for where you want the bottom left of the SVG bounds to be positioned. Click OK
In the example shown above the cat geometry is positioned at X25, Y25. That means it is 25mm in from the left edge of the page and 25mm up from the bottom of the page.
Selecting and deselecting geometry
Click anywhere on the page to deselect, when the artwork is not selected it will display with a black line. To select artwork click and drag so that you select part of the line that you want to select. You can also click on the line but it requires more accuracy, generally it is easier to use the 'click-drag' technique.
Specifying a toolpath
Creating a toolpath is how we tell the machine what we want to do. Once we have specified all the instructions needed to make our desired toolpath Art2Gcode converts (exports) the instructions in a language Tooli can understand - that is GCode.
To specify a toolpath for a piece (or pieces) of geometry, select the geometry (it will be highlighted in red when selected), from the CAM menu select which tool you wish to use for the toolpath. For this example we will choose pen.
- Toolpath name - This is optional. Allocating a meaninful name allows you to identify and sort toolpaths more easily - this becomes especially important if you are working in a complex file with multiple toolpaths.
- Color Change ID - This is optional. You would use this if you were creating a file with multiple toolpaths and you wish the machine to pause so you can change the tool between toolpaths. For example a pen drawing that uses different color pens. Tooli will pause and Tooli Control will prompt you to install the new tool - at this point it will display the Color Change ID to indicate which color is required.
You will be asked to specify the following:
- Tip Diameter (mm) - Specify the thickness of the tool, for example a fine point pen may be 0.3mm, a thick marker may be 3mm. Base this measurement on the thickness of the line you expect the pen to make, you can ascertain this by experimenting with the pen by hand. The value you enter here will effect how the thick the toolpath appears when you choose 'show toolpath' from the toolbar. This is especially helpful to help you judge the outcome when using a thick tool and/or small sized geometry. Also when using the rotary tool Art2Gcode needs to know this measurement to accurately calculate the toolpath if you choose to create an 'inside or outside the line' toolpath (which can be specified on a closed shape only).
- Lift Height (mm) - The height you wish the Z-axis to raise the pen to when between toolpaths ie when rapiding above the surface and not drawing.
- Plunge Speed (%) - The speed the z-axis travels when lowering the pen to the surface.
- Surface Offset (mm) - This would typically be set to 0mm for most tools. However in the case of the rotary tool, this would be set to the total depth of cut.
- Pre Draw Dwell (ms) - The time (in milli-seconds) that the tool stays at the start point once lowered to the surface, before it starts moving in an X/Y direction.
- XY Draw Speed (%) - The speed that Tooli travels when the pen is in contact with the surface.
- Total Passes - How many times you want to execute the toolpath. Use this if you wish to repeat the drawing over it self - ie do more than one coat.
- Start Offset (mm) - This is the vertical slide position that will be used at the start of the job, prior to any compensation. This should match the Z position you use when setting the vertical position of the Multitool toolhead, in the dove-tail clamp.
- Stepdown (mm) - This is the distance that the slide mechanism will lower each time the ‘Draw Distance’ is reached.
- Draw Distance (mm) - This is the distance drawn, between each stepdown.
Wear compensation settings allow for high-wear tools such as soft pencils and pastels. The compensation will incrementally lower the vertical slide throughout the job, based on the parameters you set.
once you have put in your settings click OK and you will see the selected line will now have green arrows at various points. This indicates a toolpath has been created and also shows the direction of the path.
Editing a toolpath
If you wish to change the setting of a toolpath you can acces the setting again by selecting it in the 'Toolpaths' menu. Click OK once you have made your changes and the toolpath will be updated.
Exporting a toolpath
Once you are happy with your toolpath it's time to export it. Exporting the toolpath will make a GCode file that can be sent to your Tooli using the Tooli Control app.
To Export yout toolpath/s choose 'Export toolpaths' from the Export menu. Alternately you can simply hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and press 'E'. In the Export dialogue box select which toolpaths you wish to export (selected toolpaths will be highlighted in blue) then click 'Export selected toolpaths'.
There is also an opportunity in the Export dialogue box to change the order of the toolpaths with the up/down arrows before exporting. You can also tell Art2Gcode to sort them by the Color ID's so you don't have to change your pen colors unnecessarily - will group by Color ID and sort into alphabetical order.
Once you have clicked 'Export selected toolpaths' you will be prompted to name the file and choose where on your computer to save it. A multitool GCode file will have a .GMLT suffix and an Airbrush GCode file will have a .GAIR suffix.