‘Appearances’ are just that - they’re elements in a design that give the appearance of being something, but their true vector value is something quite different.

An example of an ‘appearance’ is the dashed line effect - this can be generated in both Inkscape and Illustrator, but is only a visual effect, as it doesn't actually change the raw vector information that is read by the laser cutter.

Dashed line on screen:

A quick way to see what the laser will ‘actually’ cut, is to switch your file view to Outline Mode. This way you will see the raw vector data that the laser will read:

If you want your design to have dashed lines or other appearances that will be cut by the laser, you’ll need to turn them into separate vector paths..

For most appearances you can simply expand them to vectors in Illustrator by clicking 'Object > Expand Appearance'.

Dashed lines are a little more complex, please see below for more information on expanding these to vector paths.

Dashed lines - Adobe Illustrator Fix

The recommended fix:

Remove the appearance entirely and create a dashed line by breaking up a solid line.

In Adobe Illustrator you can select the line, remove the dash effect in the appearance or stroke panel.

Use the Object > Path > Add Anchor Points command. Do this lots of times, until you've got anchor points at the same sort of interval as you wanted the dashes.

Now go through with the Direct Select tool and delete every other line between the anchor points.

OR

The other fix. Expanding the dashed line effect:

You can expand the dashed line effect using 'Object > Expand Appearance' and then 'Object > Expand'. You'll end up with a series of little boxes (it can be pretty hard to see when they are small, but we assure you they are there when zoomed in, it will be easier to see this on thicker strokes). EG:

Lines this close together will cause excessive burning on materials and increase your making costs unnecessarily, so the extra lines need to be removed before making. This can be done manually by clicking on them with the direct select tool and hitting the delete button.

Dashed lines - Inkscape fix

The recommended fix:

Remove the stroke appearance entirely and create a dashed line by drawing a set of separate smaller solid lines.

To make this faster/ the lines regular in size, you could just draw one small line, then copy (Ctrl + C), paste in place (Ctrl + Alt + V) and move each line over slightly with the arrows on the computer.

OR

The other fix. Expanding the dashed line effect:

Click on the 'edit paths by nodes' black arrow tool, and highlight the line. Then click on Path > Stroke to Path.

You'll end up with a series of little boxes (it can be pretty hard to see when they are small, but we assure you they are there when zoomed in, it will be easier to see this on thicker strokes). EG

Lines this close together will cause excessive burning on materials and increase your making costs unnecessarily, so the extra lines need to be removed before making.

This can be done manually by selecting all the lines with the edit paths by nodes tool and clicking break paths at selected nodes. You'll then be able to click on and delete the extra lines.

You want it to turn out as single lines (like the left rather than boxes on the right):

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