How do you convert a complex design of shapes into a single path?

I have this design made from individual overlapping paths:


that I want to etch using a CNC machine. The machine can read an SVG file, but it doesn't do any complex boolean CSG logic. It simply follows the paths in the file. So if I give it the file generated by Inkscape, it won't respect the "fills". It would come out looking like:


How do I combine all these shapes into a single path so that the hidden shapes are clipped out?

My question is similar to this one except my use case is much more complicated, and obviously none of the proposed solutions, like going through every pair of objects and doing a difference+copy+combine, would work. I'd have thousands of objects to manually process. It would take weeks.

Does Inkscape have no feature that can just give you the path for what it's already showing on the screen?

  • 2
    This cannot be one single path. It will need to be many individual non-overlapping paths. I do not know Inkscape but in Illustrator you would select all and do Pathfinder> Trim. This will create each individual shape without the shapes which are under any overlaps.
    – Kyle
    Jun 20, 2023 at 4:12
  • You could try rasterizing it then using a tool to convert the image to an SVG. My guess is that tools that do that would try to create paths from the lines at that point but it would retain the "fill". Alternative you can trace the end result using the pen tool, which would avoid using a "fill" Jun 20, 2023 at 22:03


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