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9.01 SVG Files

The MDA can sketch images based on the SVG format.

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics and has an extensive set of commands to create images, with basic shapes like lines, rectangles, circles, etc. that can be assigned properties like solid, dashed, colours, filled shapes, etc., etc. As you might understand, for images to be sketched on the MDA, only a limited subset of these SVG properties can and will be used. Although the MDA software can read any type of SVG file and will show a full preview of this file in the interface, only a limited set of these properties can be processed and sketched on the MDA itself. Presently, the MDA supports the following SVG elements:

  • Line, Polyline and Polygon – all lines will be sketched as solid lines. Style data like thickness, endpoints, etc. will be ignored
  • Circle and Ellipse – only solid outlines, all style data will be ignored
  • Rectangle – only solid outlines, style data for rounded corners is supported, all other style data will be ignored
  • Path – only solid outlines

Other SVG elements and style data is not supported by the SVG interpreter of the MDA.

Note that tools like Adobe-Photoshop can output SVG format files. However, what Photoshop (and other programs) sometimes do is embed a JPG or PNG pixel type file inside an SVG file. The core of those files remains a pixel file, which cannot be sketched by the MDA. If the MDA interfaces encounters files with embedded pixel files, it will display the warning: “non-sketchable elements” below the image preview. However, seeing that the file itself may contain both sketchable and non-sketchable elements, it is up to you whether or not to sketch the image. In the case of an SVG image with only pixel content, only the right-up marker will be sketched.

Instructions for drawing your own SVG images

  • There are many tools that can create SVG format images, a popular and free tool is Inkscape. However, make sure that the selected tool will create “real” SVG images, i.e. an image with vector elements instead of embedded pixel images.
  • The MDA will always scale the created image to A4 format, and rotate the image as needed so that the maximum amount of sketchable area is used. Even so, when creating a new drawing, start with an empty A4 template
  • On the A4 template, you can fully use the A4 area, up to the edges of the “paper” to create your image. However, keep in mind that the MDA has a margin of approximately 5 mm from the edge of the A4, and will resize your drawing if part of your drawing lies within this margin. As such it is good practice to not draw within 5 mm from the edge.
  • Although the MDA sketching software ignores line thicknesses, it is advised to give all elements a thickness of 3 pixels. The reason for this is that the previews of the images are much smaller than an A4, and as such a 1 pixel lines will be difficult to see in the preview image, while 3 pixel lines are easy to see in the preview image.

Make images on scale 1:1 and use measuring with TactiPad

As mentioned above, the MDA will resize any image with another format than A4. Even with an A4 image, the MDA will resize the image in case there has been drawn within the 5 mm margin. In order to create drawings that will not be resized, and for which you want to use the measuring equipment (measurement indicators and ruler) of the TactiPad, do as follows:

  • Use an A4 template, and make sure in your settings that the width and height are set to 210×297 mm or 297×210 mm, and that the viewbox is set to 0-0-297-210 or 0-0-210-297 as well.
  • Do not draw in the outer margin of 5 mm
  • As the measuring indicators of the TactiPad have a spacing of 5 mm, and start at the exact position 0, 0 (left top of the page), start your drawing at 5, 10, 15, etc. mm from the top and left edge of the page, so it aligns with a measuring indicators.


9.02 Interface

SVG images can be sketched from the MDA interface, from the following four pages:

  • Uploads, images can be uploaded to this page by yourself
  • USB-stick, images from an inserted USB-stick
  • MyImages, images requested by you, made by designers from the MyImages community
  • Examples, images from the various example categories present on the MDA

In every case the way to start sketching the image is with a simple mouse click (or a different method for “clicking” the image). . The MDA will then start sketching the selected image.

At the top of all of the four pages, the last sketched image is shown, by clicking on this image, the image will be sketched again.

The Uploads and MyImages pages also allow you to delete images from the MDA.

Note that when you try to sketch another image while the MDA is still sketching, you will get a notification that the MDA is busy, and you will have to wait until the MDA has completed the sketch to issue the sketch command.

9.04 Multiple Sketch Jobs

Sometimes it might be necessary to sketch the same design multiple times. This can easily be done through the interface. The interface remembers the last design it sketched and displays this design at the top of every sketch page where it can simply be selected to repeat that sketch.

If you’re connecting to the MDA through the interface and try to start a new sketch while the MDA is still sketching, you’ll notice that the interface prevents you from doing so and displays a warning message informing you that it can’t start a new sketch until the last one is finished. It will not queue the sketch that was ordered last. You will need to reselect the design after the MDA has finished. This however will not happen if you use TactileView to start a new sketch while the MDA is still sketching. We are working on implementing a solution for this. For now, however be aware that you should always wait for the MDA to finish and the arm to return to its home position, before starting a new sketch.

9.05 Auto Sketching

The MDA has the possibility to automatically start sketching an image.

Any SVG image file (or an MDA G-code file) that is copied or uploaded into the MDA-autosketch directory will be sketched automatically. See chapter 7.04 on how to mount this directory to your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone.

The TactileView software also has the possibility to generate MDA G-code files, and with a single command you can send this file to the MDA-autosketch directory.

Upon completion of the sketch, the corresponding SVG or G-code file will be automatically deleted from the directory.

When the MDA is busy with another sketch, the SVG file will remain into the MDA-autosketch directory until the MDA is ready. However, upon completion of the earlier image, the MDA will start directly with processing the file from the MDA-autosketch directory with the possibility that the image will be sketched on the same foil as the earlier image. So, it is advised to wait with uploading files to the MDA-autosketch directory until the MDA is ready and there is an empty sheet of foil on the MDA.