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Is there a way to consolidate CutContour lines?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by rm5690, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. rm5690

    rm5690 Member

    Jun 27, 2018
    Virginia, USA
    Im about to print a bunch (2500) of tiny little rectangular postage stickers.

    In a perfect world I could set it up as a step-and-repeat with all of them butted up against each other, use the PDF trim box as the cut contour, and then the cutter would simply have to do a series of long horizontal and vertical cuts to trim everything out quickly.

    The issue though is that the software/cutter is trying to cut out each sticker individually, so even though they're all butted up together with shared edges the cutter end ups going over the same lines twice.

    I know I could impose it all manually and draw the long cut lines manually as well, but is there a way to consolidate cut lines so that it doesn't cut over the same path twice unnecessarily?

    Im using Caldera v12.1 and a Summa s2 t160
  2. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

    Sep 3, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Erm, what software are you making it in? Might be a little extra step but id probably step it up in indesign, I usually use data merge for that, even if it’s the same artwork but you can step it up manually.

    so make your desired sheet size, drop one artwork on, step it up as desired. Select all the cutting lines then merge them with the pathfinder?
  3. rm5690

    rm5690 Member

    Jun 27, 2018
    Virginia, USA
    I started manually imposing it InDesign and Illustrator and it was taking so long that I just made it a step and repeat in Caldera, but the cutter took so freaking long to do all of them that I wish I had just taken the time to set it up manually.
  4. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

    Sep 3, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Dunno if my way will help you but it saved me a lot of time before we switched from rasterlink 5 and couldn’t step up any cut jobs in the rip.

    so I save a CSV file with say 2500 boxes filled with a space (so they remain empty, just put a space in the first two boxes then duplicate as necessary)

    make a page in indesign as big as the sheet size you want, drop one artwork in there, then drop your cut line. make a text box, put the data merge placeholder in there. (Make sure the text box is inside the artwork and smaller than the artwork, other than that you can do whatever you like).

    then just merge it with multiple pages, from there you get to save the spacing etc anyway. Just leave that at 0.

    after that you can merge all the cut lines with the pathfinder. Should take about 3 mins all in and even less once you have the spreadsheet set up for next time.

    I used this a lot before we got onyx and had to calculate sqm manually for decals. Even if you have 10,000 it’ll tell you how many pages etc it needs.

    for you, I’d probably put the artwork onto a different layer though so you can quickly grab all the cut lines.
  5. shoresigns

    shoresigns Very Active Member

    Nov 1, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    There's nothing difficult about setting this up if you know Illustrator really well, but here's a quick tutorial. This generally takes <5 min to set up.
    1. Put the artwork into a rectangular clipping mask and note the width and height for steps 2 and 3.
    2. Step and repeat the design by applying Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform to the artwork twice – once to repeat horizontally and once to repeat vertically. You just have to enter the width/height of the artwork as the offset and enter how many copies you want.
    3. Draw a vertical line from the top left corner of the artwork down to the bottom of the last row of copies. Repeat it once to the right by Opt-dragging it or using the Move/Copy shortcut (V, Return), then rotate it 180 degrees in case your plotter isn't smart enough to choose the fastest route. Select both lines and repeat them all the way to the right with the Move/Copy and Repeat shortcuts (V, Return, Cmd+D, Cmd+D, Cmd+D...), or with the Transform effect from step 2.
    4. Repeat step 3 for the horizontal lines.
    5. Resize your artboard to fit everything and export to PDF. Done!
  6. hazartilirot

    hazartilirot Member

    Sep 23, 2018
    Easy peasy....watch the video


    In nutshell you have an element 100x100 mm, then we use step&repeat (in my case.... I allocate extra +1.5 mm to each sticker). Therefore we set 3 mm between each element. Grouping elements in rows and columns and we align them in the middle of material.
    Multiply 103 mm (100 + 1.5 left side + 1.5 right side) by number of rows and 103 by number of columns - the result would be the width and height of our table.
    The math can be different... if you don't use extra space between elements for example they might go one after another with 2 mm bleeds (you should apparently use two tables with some offset in this case ).... but the idea is straightforward I hope.)
    Eventually we convert your table into curves.... that's it. We use a spot colour of #CutContour

    Mind, in my video I've forgotten to set a hairline for all group after converting table into curves...
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2020
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Grizzly

    Grizzly Member

    Sep 1, 2010
    I know this doesn't help you with your setup, but Zund Cut Center does this in their software. I think it would have to be a summa option to achieve what you want.
  8. ewded

    ewded Active Member

    Aug 28, 2017
    I can't see how this takes so long in Illustrator unless you're absolute new with the software in which case I'd highly recommend registering to skillshare (it's free now for 2 months) and learn as much about illustrator as you can.
  9. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    There is a plugin for illustrator, Corel draw and InDesign called e cut, it has tons of super useful tools like nesting, weedlines etc. One of the features is "cut line consolidation" where if you have a bunch of cut lines on top of each other, it will delete any duplicate lines.

    Look into it it's saved me at least 40 hours of tedious work in the last year, well worth the cost.

    This is the option I mentioned http://eng.e-cut.ru/index.php?view=function&functionid=35
    • Like Like x 1
  10. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    Have you tried their nesting option for illustrator? A few things on there that seem pretty cool. I usually build a 3/4 side square and step and repeat so the lines dont overlap...takes a few minutes, but I like plugins so I'm going to try and likely buy most on the website :D Thanks!
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