June '23

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Prepping the file in Illustrator Regmark, rout, print, and bleed layers (sometimes white ink) Being organized is rule No. 1. For start- ers, everything should be built at 100% size. Next, four layers should be created in Illustrator. Below is a description of how each layer is utilized for our print and cut workflow. • Top layer (Regmark) is typically auto- generated with the fiducial mark plugin. ese circles will be 6mm or 1/4" depend- ing on the demand of your cutter's cam- era. ese are typically printed with a rich black for good contrast. is will allow the camera to easily recognize the dots. e plugin I use for the fiducials automat- ically applies an overprint fill. Keep this in mind if you are producing a second-sur- face print, which is described below. • Second layer would be your (Routme) die-cut layer. Make sure vector paths are closed and there are not duplicate paths on top of one another. If there are dupli- cate paths on top of one another, the CNC will cut that line twice. If there are open paths, there will be a lot of lifting and plunging on the Z axis unnecessarily. is will waste cutting time and potentially damage your piece. You can check if paths are open or closed by going to Window > Document info. A new panel will open. From the hamburger menu (submenu of the panel) you can select objects. Now when you click on the path, it will tell you if it is open or closed. is tool also comes in handy to figure out how many linear inches of cutting are involved for quoting. • White Ink Layer (optional depending on workflow). is is where we apply our white ink if your printer has this capabil- ity. Keep in mind white ink will be needed under the fiducials on some materials so they can easily be read by the camera. Be careful if the fiducials are automatically set to overprint fill. is will not allow the fiducial to knock out through the white. In some cases the print will need to be flipped for CNC or lasercutting. • ird layer down would be the creative (Printme). Your Routme layer can be cre- ated by duplicating this layer and creat- ing a compound path by selecting all the objects and using Window-> Pathfinder panel-> Unite tool. is creates one solid G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M J U N E 2 0 2 3 • G R A P H I C S P R O 1 7 (Left) Screengrab of our Illustrator layering for print and cut workflows. Also shows the key fiducial mark. The graphic has already been flipped by our prepress operators for a second-surface application. An example of the rout file set up at 50" w x 36" h. The oscillating knife is cutting outside the edge of the board by 1", so we keep a true 48" w x 36" h finished piece.

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