It turns out that Inkscape's error messages will appear in the status bar at the bottom of the application.
Part of getting my Glowforge laser cutter has been learning to use a new piece of software, Inkscape. I was having problems using Inkscape's "Path > Difference" option to combine (well, cut out) shapes and text elements. Here's what I had to do to get the elements merged:
Optional: Disable any stroke styles on both objects. Use fills instead.
Optional: Make sure the first element - the non-text - is a path. Select it and choose "Path > Object to Path".
Turn the text into a path. Select it and choose "Path > Object to Path".
Ungroup that new path. Right click it and choose "Ungroup".
Bring the "top" element to the top layer (Home). This is what will be removed from the other element.
For about a year, I was a member of MakerHaus, a maker space which was reasonably convenient for me. Alas, they closed last year, shortly atfer I had taken the class to become certified to use their laser cutter. Since I am eagerly awaiting my Glowforge laser cutter, I thought I'd share my notes from that class. Note that while the general concepts should apply to the Glowforge, these notes were originally for a unknown laser cutter: shown in this video.
The depth of the laser's cut is a result of the combination of power, speed and material. Run a test grid of speed and power combinations to calibrate materials.
Maximum size is defined by cutter; 46" x 34" in this case.
Acceptable materials (and their max thickness)
Hardwoods (1/4") varies by species
Stamp rubber (1/2")
Uneven surfaces such as bumps or welds
Mirrored surfaces, sparkles, glass
Metal (unless it's been coated with Cermark etching spray)
Halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine)
Anything including Teflon
Polycarbonates, PVC, vinyl (bad fumes)
Tap Plastics in SLU
Crosscut Hardwoods (larger sheets)
DXF files are best.
Run Illustrator files through Corel to make them happier.
Can auto-engrave with .jpg and .tiff files. Use Draw on host computer.
Laser Cutter Operation
Pause / Start: Can pause program and re-start.
Test: Laser traces outer edges of shape. Watch this with the lid up before starting a burn to ensure design will stay on material.
Adjust z axis (z to enter/exit)
"Download" will delete current from cutter
Stack steel weights.
Move weights or material when under laser.
Move laser by hand.
Assign shape to color, then a command (engrave, cut).
Translate all into outlines (paths), not shapes.
Cut = follow path. Engrave = fill.
"light cut" = engrave a line, don't cut through.
speed power max speed
engrave: 600 85 700
light cut: 75 15
cut: 30 85 100
Never set power above 90%.
Corner power = max power -5%
Engrave and light cut first. Then cut.
Sequence of operations is shown in command box.
Stopwatch to estimate time.
Un-check output to skip certain commands / paths.
Box move / "set knife origin" to right top.
Then test perimeter.
"Soft stop error" implies that materials are out of bounds. Check knife origin and perimeter test.
"Download" to send file from host to cutter. You still have to *start* program at cutter.