26 Dec

Inkscape and Plotters, the 2nd

After my last post about integrating plotter functionality into Inkscape quite a lot of time has passed, so here is an update:

  • Development is finished!
  • The plotter functionality was separated from the HPGL export, it is now an extension
  • The HPGL export still exists and has the same functionality as the extension
  • A HPGL import was added
  • The following command languages are now supported: HPGL, DMPL and KNK Zing (HPGL variant)
  • The interface has changed to a tabbed one, it is much more lucid now
  • New features: Flow control settings, debug information, precut functionality, pen force + speed settings
  • The “In-Program” documentation is much better, all texts are rewritten and new info texts were added

I wanted to wrap up things nicely, which i think is a success.

See for your self:

The new plotter menu item in the extensions menuThe new plotter menu item in the extensions menu

The connection settings tabThe connection settings tab

The plotter settings tabThe plotter settings tab

The plot features tabThe plot features tab

To use the extension just download Inkscape.

Ideas for new features / needed changes (Thanks for the suggestions added by users!):

  • Add support for a very small fraction of plotters (I think less than 1%) not working with standard serial settings (8bits, 1stopbit) – Done, will be available with Inkscape 0.92
  • Scale Overcut and Tool offset correction separate for each axis, atm it is done by a common scale factor. some thought has to be put into this.
  • Change the cutting order from smallest to biggest parts to avoid stripped off parts of small text characters. This could impact CPU performance.
  • Add support for multiple pens for old pen plotters on export (The import already can import multiple pens correctly). Since Inkscape has no support for setting such options to a path a “creative” solution has to be found. – Done, will be available with Inkscape 0.92
  • Maybe add text fields to enable the user to add commands at multiple places in the data stream without changing any code. Is this really useful? – After careful consideration this will not be done.
  • Preview functionality. The extension is prepared for it, but it needs support from the Inkscape side (C/C++) i cannot provide. Help from a C++ programmer would be greatly appreciated!
  • “Test”-plotting a document either via selecting pen 0 or by only using PU commands. Do people really need this? – This can be achieved by selecting pen 0 in the settings already.
  • Maybe add support for G-Code controlled DIY Plotters (GRBL controller). This may be out of scope of this extension. – Please use the existing Gcodetools extension for this. It would be out of scope of this extension anyway.
  • Make use of a measurement feature of Roland plotters to determine if the used workpiece is big enough for the plot before starting the plot. Since i don’t have a Roland plotter i need someone to test my code.

Have fun and be productive!

P.s.: I am always eager to see that the extension is put to good use, so if you want to share pictures of your finished product send them to sebi{ät}timewaster.de and i will add them here:

From Thomas Seifert:

106 thoughts on “Inkscape and Plotters, the 2nd

  1. Hi,
    if its selected
    Flow control: Software (XON/XOFF)
    would it be possible to send as first this escape sequence?
    for the right configuration of the plotter (switch to XON/XOFF) ?

  2. hi beee,

    is your plotter not working without this sequence? (i.e. can’t you set another flow control method that is working?)

    in the “future features” section above i already added one point about adding custom commands, so it would be interesting to know if it is needed for some plotters.


  3. My plotter on old PC (with real serial port) is working OK (Flow control DTR/DSR), but i rebuild it to Bluetooh for new notebook (without serial port), where is only RX/TX. So it has to be only Software Flow control. And this sequence will command to switch plotter’s Flow control to Software.

  4. Hello,

    Thankyou Mr. TimeWaster for this great contribution!, I’m using a Prolific USB to Serial converter in a notebook (linux mint 17), and an old Summa D520 plotter. It works great.

  5. Dear TimeWaster.. thank you for this great extension! finally a way to print directly out of inkscape that WORKS! i really love how simple you kept it and how nicely everything is organized and explained. very userfriendly and straight forward. It works like a charm on my Seiki (cheap-ass chinese plotter) and produces accurate print-outs with the resolution set to 1005 dpi for both axis and the rotation set to 270°. I love the fact that i don’t have to rotate my drawings anymore and that i don’t need to save and import and do whatever it took before with all these other programs. great stuff.
    i too use a Prolific USB to Serial as the built-in usb to serial converter of the seiki seems to have a buffer issue since a few weeks 🙂 .. i’m running ubuntu 14.04 with inkscapes stable ppa to get the newest version.

    kind regards

  6. hi Pascal, thank you very much (also for your donation)! 🙂

    I thought it might be a good idea to keep it as simple as possible since the overall plotter stuff is complicated enough in itself, good to hear this was the right way.

    About the buffer issue, have you maybe tried different flow control settings?


  7. Thanks so much, TimeWaster!

    Our software (CutStudio) just started behaving really weird but we could continue printing thanks to you and Inkscape 😀 .

    Open Source ftw!

  8. I just wanted to drop a note to TimeWaster and say thank you for this plugin. It enabled me to use a Cricut Expression with Inkscape using my custom firmware. Without this inkscape plugin, I would not have attempted such a project.

    Thanks a ton!

  9. Tuk and Thetazzbot, you are very welcome! 🙂

    If you maybe want to help me (and my blog) you could link back from your blogs to mine, but i am not mad if you don’t do that.

Comments are closed.