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Thread: PC Printing templates to scale
03-24-2010, 03:24 PM #1
PC Printing templates to scale
I've posted this question to quite a few computing forums now and gotten nowhere. It's extremely frustrating. Eventually I reasoned that this is something that patternmakers would have experience with. So here we go...
I'm not simply tryiing to resize/scale the whole image/page, but a (any) portion within it.
A setup for simplicity's sake...
On a page is a line drawing of a rectangle that is 4 inches wide and 2 inches tall (it is scaled with a page annotation). The whole jpeg/pdf/png/ etc "image" is much larger than this, including the blank white surround.
You print the page and the rectangle comes out 3.25 inches across.
How do you rescale the rectangle within that whole image to print properly? I've been told over and over that it is impossible to prescribe this dimension because everyone uses different screen pixel counts, printers, print drivers, etc. Sounds reasonable. HOWEVER, I posted the above rectangle (as a pdf) to another forum and a gentleman in Sweden corrected it within one minute and attached it to his response. I never told him my system, screen size, or printer. I printed his corrected pdf and, to my astonishment, the rectangle printed EXACTLY 4 inches across. I went back and asked him to tell me how he did this and he recommended importing the image into "any common vector graphics" program and rescaling the rectangle. I tried a half a dozen programs, including inkscape, DIA, google sketchup, and other to accomplish this and was simply met with frustration. I went back and asked him to elaborate and he never responded.
How is this done?
I've tried drawing the rectangle in google sketchup and scaled it to PRECISELY 4 inches. It insists on breaking my heart every time the printer spits out some random percentage of that. I've adjusted all the right settings and spent hours in the Sketchup help forums. I have followed tutorials and directions to a tee. I know I'm not missing anything in the settings of those programs. I've scaled it in humble little MS Paint. It accepts precise measurements in its "image attributes" section. Saves them. And then goes and prints them in some random percentage of that figure!!!! I can print, measure, zoom, print, measure, zoom, print, etc etc. but that just seems absurd in 2010 for printing to scale. It must have more to do with technique than just settings, because the tutorials never seem to remedy it. And it blows my mind how many "experts" tell me that I have no choice but to print, measure, scale, print, measure, scale, print, measure, scale, and likewise crawl my way toward a correct printout.
How to do this? (before I dump this half gallon of gas on it all and strike a match)
03-24-2010, 04:15 PM #2
I don't know what software you're using or what printer either but in SolidWorks I click 'File' 'print' then 'page setup' then select the radio button for print to scale.
After that I cut the profile out and then spray paint over it. Then, cutaway anything that has paint on it to make the part. It's not perfect, but it comes out close enough for govt work. I can usually get it w/in about .02" or so.
Hope that helps
03-24-2010, 04:21 PM #3
I suspect Sketchup is the problem, you probably need to spend a lot more $ on software to get that ability.
In Solid Edge, when I want to print a screen shot, the printer menu allows me to specify a scale for the output, to make it 1 to 1 or something else. Years ago I used CADMAX with a pen plotter, and I used the plotter output directly as a template to cut parts with a pattern torch, there I could specify scale also.
It can't be too hard to include that ability in the program, hopefully someone will have an inexpensive one that does.
03-24-2010, 04:36 PM #4
Go to the Tritools site and download a trial/beta copy of Visual CADD 6.0
I print out exact templates often, and the new version will also import images and do the same scaling and such. On my Laserjet and Canon injet, the images are usually within a few thou, depending on the shrinkage of the media.
It's a darn good 2D cad program too, though you'll pay a few hundred bucks for it. IMO, worth every penny.
03-24-2010, 04:39 PM #5
What operating system are you using?
I use Linux (currently Fedora 12) and most of my 2D drawings are done using Xfig. Linux has its own little set of problems but printing to the scale I want is not one of them. All of my Xfigs are exported to DPF and then printed. 1" on drawing equals 1" on print if I scale 1:1. Other scales also come out as desired. That's how I like it.
Can you draw anything with any program and have it print correctly?
Send me one of your PDFs so I can try it in Windows and Linux.
03-24-2010, 11:51 PM #6
i used to do a lot of home brew PCBs with the toner transfer method and the number one rule was to always print from a PDF. i didn't have a laser printer at the time so always had to have someone else print them for me, as long as the file was a PDF it always came out right.
03-25-2010, 01:06 AM #7
I haven't tried Inkscape, but it's supposedly similar to Adobe Illustrator, which is what I use for quick templates. The easiest way is to set the document's units to inches, and it should print 1:1 regardless of printer or monitor resolution. What kind of results did you get when using Inkscape?
Sketchup can't print to scale. Not only does it lack a built-in print to scale feature, but it also lacks a %-based zoom feature.
Glacern Machine Tools
03-25-2010, 08:44 AM #8
I'm not cheap, but I am quite practical. This is not for commercial work, and I"d never make use of 90 percent of the feature set in a professional CAD package. So I'd really like to find a common program that can accomplish this. Maybe InkScape.
Currently I'm drawing something that I'd like to share with others at another forum and would like even beginners to be able to print the file directly in scale. Pdf sounds like the way to go, but I have not found a way to fix it, as the gentleman in Sweden did, and post it. He suggested any "common vector graphics program" which, I think, Inkscape qualifies as.
This is just one of those hurdles you discover once in a while that blows your mind. I can't telll you how many people I've asked who blink, twice, and then ask why on earth I'd want to print to scale. WHAT? I guess that is reflected in software designer's likewise lack of interest in including a better GUI for this task in drawing programs. Like I mentioned in the first post, it's not simply a matter of setting 1:1 ratios, or paper sizes, etc, because it can often be the case that the file you'd like to use as a template is improperly scaled to begin with. In which case, since the "image" according to the program you've opened the file in is the whole thing border to border including white space, it's not so simple as plugging a dimension for it into a space provided. It really would not be a difficult or complex addition to any 2d drawing program, Click on one point of an object, drag, click on another point and a box appears, enter 4 inches. Presto, image is ready to print in that scale. But for some astonishing reason it seems nowhere to be found unless I spend $$$$$$$ and tutor myself to learn a complex CAD program.
03-25-2010, 09:02 AM #9
Been using Deltacad for templates, etc. for years. Set printing scale 1:1 and comes out perfect. Best 10 bucks I ever spent. Looking in the bargain software bin at a grocery store and there it was.
03-25-2010, 09:16 AM #10
Your printer setup does not include the "fit to page" feature as active?
Just covering the obvious;-)
03-25-2010, 11:56 AM #11I'm not simply tryiing to resize/scale the whole image/page, but a (any) portion within it.
What you are after is sort of like magnifying a detail from a smaller scale drawing to full scale but only of that detail?
Never tried scaling generally, pdf is "easy" with OoO but whole page...will keep experimenting.
03-25-2010, 12:10 PM #12
Works, sort of...
Can get it to scale in OoO (only tried pdf types so far, as it is a common export) in combination with Foxit pdf reader.
The option is "snapshot" of whatever the original file was, the "snapshot" being any portion you want (box drawn around the area in question).
Its a lot of back and forth, you then can paste that back into the OoO Draw program, manipulate it how you want or just export that page as a pdf and go back to Foxit and then enlarge at the print page, scaling by percentage how you want (common 50%, 75% are options but you can insert a % number you want as well).
Real problem I suspect is that you do not have it on the original print out though there is likely a way to print it on the same page provided there is enough room (obviously that would depend on the size of the page etc.) PLUS since in effect I guess you are enlarging at the "pixel" level, clarity disappears...the image is enlarged but curved lines for example are "jaggies", worse the bigger you scale up.
03-25-2010, 12:28 PM #13
OK I just tried Inkscape. And drew some stuff. And printed it. It came out perfect.
NOTE: Before I started drawing I went to:
File --> Document Properties (just to see how they were set)
Under the Page tab in General the Drawing units were set to "px", I reset them to "in".
In Format the Page size was set to "A4", I reset it to "US Letter"
In Page orientation it was set to "Lanscape", I left that alone.
After making thse settings I drew some stuff ... various horizontal and vertical lines. Some were exactly 4" long and some were exactly 2" long. On the printout the lines that were supposed to be 4" were 4" and the lines that were supposed to be 2" were 2".
I could only save the file as a .svg file or export as a bitmap (.png) file.
Now if I exported in .png and opened it in an image viewer (in my case gthumb) and tried to print it it came out too small. This is because it considers it an "image" which would be scaleable... I reset my margins for the page in my image viewer to 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0 and it prints exactly to scale.
Incidentally, when I re-open Inkscape it defaults to the A4 size page and whatnot. When I re-open an .svg where I had made a bunch of changes it comes up with the correct settings. There must be a way to get the defaults to "stick" where I want them.
If, as you say, you want to be able to share files with other people it would really be better if you could use a program that will support PDF natively. Xfig is one such program and it's ability to import and export to PDF is one reason why I use it. It will also handle a zillion other formats including HPGL (for plotters.) PDF is the way to go for trading files over the interwebs.
03-25-2010, 12:55 PM #14
png file important?
David is likely onto the "best" method.
Most of what I have found is entire page (enlarging a picture to wall poster size for example).
Sketchup (I am not using the most up-to-date version) allows to export as 2D graphic (i.e. for them thats png) and after that any photo software should be able to handle it, just paste into any document and print (there is still some distortion however depending on how upscaled it is esp on curves) and original and enlargement are on separate pages.
03-25-2010, 03:34 PM #15
Open Office wordprocessor supports PDF files as as export option. I always had scaling problems using Protel Autotrax printed circuit board software which was a DOS application. Over the years as operating systems matured this problem largely went away for me. At present I'm using XP for Corel Draw! with no scaling problems during scanning or printing with a HP photosmart inkjet and also Fedora 10 and GIMP image software again with no problems except for the printer defaulting to foolscap instead of A4 paper.