QR Codes in Copper

QR Codes in Copper by mikeysklar
QR Codes in Copper, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I've been trying to etch QR codes in copper. I like the way they look and had thought it would be a easy thing to do with my CNC. What I did not expect was how difficult it was to convince Inkscape to cut away the proper areas rather than just trace the bitmap patterns. I have yet to producing a working QR code in copper, but wanted to share with you the results thus far. Anyone have a favorite qr code to gcode converter?


Killbox said...

not sure your getting enough contrast, perhaps an ink wash of the post routed board might do it. also the corners may not be sharp enough

also, the border is important and part of the standard. without the "white" edge most readers cant find the reference squares and can't read.

Killbox said...

It also kinda looks like you need to go negative too. i had a really hard time finding the timing lines in it, even the refrence squares look like they have too many outlines.

Mikey Sklar said...

@killbox...My issue is more a lack of understanding how to use Inkscape properly. When I issue a "Trace Bitmap" within Inkscape is traces around all the boxes and then generates a gcode file. What I really need is a gcode file that is not a trace, but will cut the entire blacked out areas.

It doesn't really matter if I use a negative or positive of the QR Code. It works both ways on my monitor. It's the gcode file that is not right.

Jim DHaem www.dhaem.com said...

Check out:

David M. said...

Try using Eagle, run the "import-bmp.ulp" script, then use the CAM processor to generate your tool paths.

I blogged about this a while back when trying to render images with pen on my Cricut.


Daniel said...

You might be able to render the QR code as lots of circles instead of squares. Datamatrix codes work fine that way. Can you scan http://qrcodematrix.com/2011/09/lots-of-dots/ ?

Mikey Sklar said...


Interesting idea. One of my phone scanners (google app) was able to read the image.

Donnie Darko said...

You either need to have a negative image of what you have, or get copper clad with a different color substrate. Also your registration boxes don't look right, even with a negative image only the 2 top ones register. Normally the registration boxes are a black square, white space and black square around that. Your colors need to be dark for the code and lighter for the background, but doesn't need to be black and white. You have them reversed. I copied and pasted one of the top registration boxes to the bottom left and got all points to register, you still can't read the code though. Once you have the colors and registration boxes right you also need it increase the error correction to account for the rounded corners.

Play around with these to get a better understanding of QR codes

free barcode software

Online barcode generators. Some of the sites have more options than others.

Christian McNamara said...

Do you have a way to generate proper CNC paths from inkscape? We have this problem a lot in a lab I work in, and I'm interested what your solution was.

Mikey Sklar said...

@Christian: While I can generate paths from Inkscape into gcode format they are not the "proper paths". Inkscape just gives me a trace of all the squares as opposed to gcode that will etch all the dark areas.

Kenn Green said...

Good work. But I don't know whether you can read the qr code without border. Have you try to scan it with a qr code scanner?

Mikey Sklar said...

It did not work.