HPGL has become a standard machine driver language for many XY style devices. It has a good general spec for representing the kind of work we do as designers. HPGL as a device driver is usually limited to the original version specification which really only deals with lines and arcs. Since we often use complex curves, like ellipses and splines, when designing pieces for POP or other specialty applications, Rules™ has several conversion options for these curves so that you can make use of them in all your designs and have that work easily transferred via DDES2, CFF2, or HPGL. The DXF and DWG formats support these higher curve types so if it is possible to use the DXF or DWG translators, it is advisable to do so. The entities in the design, the next software used in the process, and the output XY devices used will together determine what format you use.
AlphaCorr™ products generate a very clean and simple version of HPGL code for the main purpose of driving XY knife and laser cutting systems.
Rules HPGL files can be used with just about any generic HPGL device. Output from your design files is not scaled to fit any particular device. The output is sent out at a scale of 1:1. It is assumed that you intend to use the HPGL output functions to drive prototyping or production equipment.
You can use the HPGL output to drive HPGL printers, but you may have to use the scaling functions found in Layout → Drawing Size to set a scale for the geometry so that it will fit on your device.
Getting the HPGL File to Your Device
The vast majority of industrial grade HPGL devices are operated by their own dedicated computer that shares a folder to your network. In this case, simply configuring Rules to place the HPGL file into that folder is all that needs to be done to transport the file to the device. Most older, consumer or small business grade HPGL devices are accessed by a serial port connection. If your device has only a serial port you will need additional software to move the file out to the serial port. If your computer does not have a serial port, you will need to add one, either in the computer, or using a small “black box” sold by AlphaCorr called the Rules Plot Connector. The Rules Plot Connector features Ethernet or WiFi on one side and a serial port on the other. The Rules Plot Connector is especially useful for computers that do not have the ability to add a serial port (for example, most computers sold after 2005.)
Note: even though there are USB-serial converters on the market, in our experience, none work well. Please contact AlphaCorr with the details of your exact situation. There is generally a path to get everything connected smoothly.
HPGL Pen Colors
For control of HPGL output types, Rules uses a combination of sheets, layers, pen colors and patterns to send the correct data to the device. You will need to configure these pen colors to reflect what your device is expecting to see. For example, assume we are using a DataTechnology DT3000 sample maker. The DT Front End software has settings for the different tools the machine uses and the colors of geometry it expects to see to invoke those tools. A typical default setup on a DT sample maker has pens 3, 4, and 8 set to the reciprocating cutting tool. The knife, and the pens 2 and 7 invoke the scoring wheel. All 8 pens available can be set to perform different types of cuts and scores depending on the variety of tools your table has installed. The synchronization of the sample table and Rules software can be done two ways. Either set the machine to recognize the colors as they are output from Rules, or set Rules to output the colors to what the sample maker is expecting. Since the sample maker can be configured to have many different “tasks” that represent different types of prototyping jobs, a combination of the two is the best way to go.
Rules always uses black solid patterned lines to represent knife and green dashed lines to represent crease. Perforation patterns, laser cutting patterns and specialty rules use different combinations of colors, layers and patterns to differentiate between them. If you want to see every line type in Rules, refer to the line type table below. Some type combinations are not available in Rules. SteelRules™ uses more patterns to drive laser cutting systems. Below is a list of the Rules stock setup. The stock setup is the most likely setup you will encounter when using DataTechnology sample making and laser cutting equipment.
|Rules Pen Name||Color||Pattern||Rules HPGL Pen No|
|⅛ × ⅛ Perf||Black||Dashdot||8|
|¼ × ¼ Perf||Black||Border||8|
|⅜ × ⅜ Perf||Black||Divide||8|
During your initial installation or if you’re under service contact AlphaCorr will be happy to help you to configure your output for a variety of different systems such as Alpha Merics, Kongsberg, Zünd or others.