Rastering Autocad 2016 designs on OSX

For my simpit i designed several backlit panels that i wanted to engrave using the lasercutter at our hackerspace. To print with this lasercutter, i need to export my drawings, save it on a network share and then run VisiCut on a laptop running some Linux distribution. Even though all the fonts and files are there, the export of the DXF loses all the fine details of the font and line thickness. This is probably because i’m a total n00b with AutoCad and VisiCut. Searching on the ‘net the only solution was to vectorise the image on a Window edition of AutoCad (because that comes with the awesome text tools that aren’t available on the Mac edition of AutoCad). I have no Windows machine so that is an absolute no-go.

However I found a workaround to get the 100% spot-on engraving option of my design.

The trick is to print the design to PDF in AutoCad and save the PDF as bitmap to get the proper DPI:

  • Select the layers you want to engrave, either through a WBLOCK or direct from your main design
  • print it as PDF. Make sure you print 1:1 and that you paper size is large enough.
  • Then, on the Mac, open the .PDF with Preview,
  • Crop the image
  • Save As PNG. This will allow you to set the DPI of the target image (be blunt and just set it to 1000dpi or something).

Now, to laser-engrave our design you need to make sure that the scale is exactly right. VisiCut is a little pesky about opening bitmaps, but what I do is I open the DXF of the design, and then IMPORT an additional layer with the pre-rasterized bitmap I just saved. With a little adjustment, you can overlay the PNG on the vector file. When the scale is absolutely spot on you can delete the vector file.

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