Creating, Then importing DXF files for CMC


Grumbler in Training
Sep 18, 2003
Spokane, Wa
Okay, Techie Guru's! We have had an Eclipse Mat Cutter for a couple of years now, but along with it we got a CAD program to supposedly design and import special cuts into the MatWRITER software that the Eclipse uses. But, not being very experienced in using CAD, I would like a quick tutorial as to how to get started, in order to succesfully design, then save a DXF file that the MatWRITER will read. Thanks...
Kevin, unless you can get some other Eclipse owners to chime in (or Mike Anglesey) I doubt we can help you much. Eclipse, like Wizard, I'm sure has some proprietary method of saving DXF files so that they can be imported in as cutting information. I'm pretty sure that Eclipse has a forum on their web site, so you may want to post your question there too.

Now I'm just guessing here (there's only so many ways it would work), but you'll probably need use the "Layers" feature of the CAD software to draw each mat layer or cut sequence on separately. As far as which line types are supported (elliptical arcs, beziers, etc.) you'll need to ask Eclipse. Finally, you'll have to somehow specify the starting point and the direction of each cut, and again, I'm not sure how Eclipse does that.

Sorry, not much help, but hopefully it points you in the right direction...
Kevin (and any other Eclipse owners who utilize QuickCAD), I have a basic instruction guide that will help get you started. Since it is a couple of pages long I will email it privately. Along the lines of what Steve mentioned, it is more or less a process that must be followed in order for the Eclipse software to properly convert the DXF file. Give it a try!
Hey Steve, could you do the same for my Wizard?

When creating a CAD mat, there's a couple important things to keep in mind while you're designing. The first one is making sure the design ends up as we like to call here a closed "circuit", where all the end points of line segments connect so that the software can make the appropriate calibration adjustment (overcuts and backups).

The second consideration is making sure that the points of connection are tangent if you do not intend for the knife to pick-up and replunge at a particular location. You'll see this sometimes when you have several arcs connected in series.

So keeping those items in mind, simply draw the shape you want to see. OK, so it may not be that simple at first. Back when I was a framer, I got some graphed tracing paper so I could plot out my points by hand and then would manually enter those plots into the CAD software. It's tedious but effective. We do ship CAD with an add-on from Corel called "OCR Trace" which is a raster-to-vector conversion tool (let's you scan in a picture as line art and approimates it to mathmatical vector informaiton). It takes some of the drudgery out but still involves a bit of clean up work.

The CAD we use, Visual CADD, also comes with many neat tools built in for scaling, trimming, offsetting (very useful for multi-layer mats), and rotating. Explaining how these tools work though is beyond the scope of this reply...

Finally, once you're done designing, we ship another custom tool called PathTrace that runs from within Visual CADD. PT allows you to easily pick the starting plunge on each circuit and the type of bevel you want to cut with. From there you can save it or launch the Wizard software straight to the cut preview screen and cut your design. PT will also inform you if there's some circuits not completely closed and is smart enough to try and close it for you as well.

As Mike said, we also have a full manual and tutorials available on how to complete this process.

Any specific questions?
Almost forot to quote your quote:

I love that movie...
Thanks Steve,
How come I wasn't informed of the OCR when I bought my cad software? It sure would help.

I'm aware of the use of end points. Visi cad seems to be a real pain when using snaps. Perhaps you can tell me and others reading this how to use running snaps in Visual Cad, I just can't get them to work, sometimes It appears to be closed but when you zoom in they are overlapped or not connected.

I also wish (and I'm sure others do too) the cad manual was written a little better. It's vague about things and seems to have been written by a programmer:D I cannot find any books about Visual Cad, do you know of any?

I have been using AutoCAD since R-14, but the more I play with VCad the more frustrated I become.

Well, I guess we don't extoll the virtues of OCR Trace because sometimes it can make it harder than easier (depending on the nature of the artwork).. personally I don't use it myself.

Running snaps is usefull in some circumstances but I rarely use that too. I changed the system settings so that my R-click is snap-to-nearest and I mainly just use that. I find it easier to learn the two-letter keyboard shortcuts when I need a particular snap.

The manual was actually written by a non-programmer. Dani, a help-desk employee who sometimes posts on the Grumble as well, does most of our user documentation. I doubt you can find any books on VCADD but there's plenty of web sites, try The VCADD's User Group for some general VCADD info.
Is it possible there is actually something that's easier with a Mat Maestro?

I tried a couple of CAD programs before I decided that CorelDraw was easier. I create the shapes I need, set the dimensions and the relative positions and use one of three utilities to combine them to get whatever weird window I need for my mat.

I 'save as' a dxf file and then import it into the Mat Maestro 'MatSoft' program, where you can position it and set the reveal(s) for multi-layer mats.

This is the way I cut text, too. I set up the text in Corel, convert it to lines, and save as a dxf.

If it's a good day, the Mat Maestro will actually cut the mat I've designed this way.
I think it's Corel Draw more than anything else...

Though it might depend on what you're trying to do. For example, recently I decided to frame an Escher poster - it's the "self-portrait" one where he's holding a reflective sphere in his hand. I couldn't scan it since it has a dark fuzzy background that with little contrast in a few places.

For the mat I followed the outline of the hand and sphere and offset it about a half an inch on two layers. To do that, I had to carefully trace the contour from the poster. Next I plotted points into CAD creating lines and arcs and then applied liberal use of the offset tool for both the bottom and top layer (which has a reveal of a quarter inch). I then cut out a test mat, made a few minor adjustments, and lastly cut my final mats...

I've never used Corel before - can you specify exactly where you want a line segment to go? And what's the "three utilities to combine" the shapes?

[ 11-03-2003, 11:00 PM: Message edited by: WizSteve ]
Hey Steve,
Thank you for your timely replies, maybe I can figure out some methods with your and Ron's advice.

I have been designing in AutoCAD, saving them to R-14 DXF, then opening them up in VCadd with mixed results. It took awhile before I realized VCadd doesn’t read polylines so I have to explode them before saving them. Some times it works sometimes not. The biggest problem I get is the PT only lets me make a v-groove, not exactly what I want.

Ron I too am curious about the 'utilities' the speak of.


P.S. Steve take a break, go outside enjoy being away from the putor!
David, you may want to inquire about updating your software, as PathTrace has improved since the version you're running (4.8 I believe). Don't ask Snafu how long it takes to get the update though.

P.S. Steve take a break, go outside enjoy being away from the putor!
I'd love to but I'm chained to my desk. There's a sign out front that says "Don't feed the programmers"...


[ 11-04-2003, 12:00 AM: Message edited by: WizSteve ]
Corel Draw will export a DXF and if you really draw in the order that you want and specify the pens correctly for the layers you are able to cut mats designed in Corel on the Eclipse. Some I've done have cut great....others a complete flop.

We suggest that if an owner of an Eclipse or Wizard really wants to design their own mats that they take a community education course in CAD. Most programs use all the basics and it is truly a matter of knowing the basic tools in most CAD programs that will allow you to custom design your mats.

The other option is that both Wizard and Eclipse will do custom designs for you. Yes there is a fee, but when you consider the time saved and usually a mat that cuts perfectly, it is a good investment.

[ 11-04-2003, 09:13 AM: Message edited by: John Richards ]
I think you guys are talking about much more complex shapes than I am.

I use CorelDraw to make concentric arches or cute little stars. Mostly, I combine rectangles to cut windows around newspaper articles while cropping out the ads.

I think you're wanting to design - from scratch - mats in the shape of the Starship Enterprise. (I would do that by finding clipart and converting it to a dxf outline in Corel.)

The "utilities" I was talking about in Corel are really three shaping tools: Weld, Trim or Intersect.
Other than CorelDraw, do you know of any other utilities to convert an EPS, GIF, PDF, JPG, or BMP (any of the above) to the DXF format?

I'd like to take our company logo and cut it on the Wizard, for display in the gallery.

If it's a hassle, i'll just get Corel. It sounds like it does everything I need to do for this project and whatever comes down the road later.

Hey Mike, I think I remember you mentioned something about getting your logo done from another company... when they supplied the final set of files to you, are any of them vector based? EPS's can be both raster or vector based. I'd be surprised if they didn't, seeing how you probably use the graphic when printing cards and letterhead.

If so, someone with a copy of Freehand, Corel or some other DTP program can probably export the file to a DXF. My wife's a graphic artist so I have access to pretty much everything but Corel...

I just recently resurfaced a coffee table with a nice celtic knotwork pattern I cut out of matboard, and I used an EPS I found somewhere on the 'net by converting it to a DXF. I still had to spend about 30 minutes cleaning it up but it was much quicker than doing it from scratch.

You can also try googling for "raster to vector".. most of what you find are for architects and engineers though.
Thanks Steve

I do have Freehand, but dont think that file format is an option.

My artwork is already in EPS format.

I'll pick up a copy of Corel, which is what everyone seems to use.

Thanks for the quick reply!