How to panelize prints for saving paper?

I’ve previously used laser transfer with my etching, but I’m moving over to using transparent paper and uv sensitive dry film. I’m also trying to do uv paint for solder mask.

Previously I haven’t really cared about paper so have just printed natively one by one on OSX to PDF’s. I now want to kindof panelize stuff because transparent paper isn’t free (and mother Earth and all that), but I can’t seem to find any decent software support for this.

I mean, I want something like this on one A4 transparent:

Current flow now is:

  • Kicad print, select front copper and front mask, select mirrored output, print to pdf
  • use Apple Preview, rectangular select, copy to clipboard
  • open Illustrator (yuk)
  • Paste from clipboard, cleanup all extra chrome stuff, title and frame that gets there even if I didn’t select it previously
  • Go back to kicad, same for back layers
  • Scale 1.0005 due to my laser printer being off
  • Export illustrator file to pdf (can’t print in AI, rastering looks terrible for some reason)
  • Print from Preview

Maybe doesn’t look like much, but pretty tedious for me.

The problems I have are these:

  • I can’t seem to find any FOSS tool that runs on Mac where I can copy and paste vector graphics (pdf) and move stuff around on a paper layout other than the combination of Apple Preview and Adobe Illustrator. I’ve looked into InkScape, but it hardly runs on my machine and I couldn’t understand it.
  • Can’t get printing in AI working decent
  • Can’t scale in Preview or OSX native print dialog other than whole percentage which is not good enough
  • Also I’m on my first day of 7-day trial for Illustrator that I do not intent to pay for. I’m all into FOSS so really looking for alternatives. Best would be if I could script this in any way.

Is it possible to tune the output from KiCad to postscript/pdf in more advanced ways? I haven’t looked into going via gerbers for this…

Any tips highly appreciated!

Can you set the print scale to 8:1, then choose 8-up layout in your Print settings?

I don’t know if it will help, but I just checked the plot options. (I have 5.0.2, I don’t have access to previous versions to see if these options are also there.) In addition to normal gerber you can plot as postscript or SVG. Both of those plot output formats allow you to select small drill marks. Then hopefully the layer images will just be vector object that you should be able to copy and place where you want in Illustrator or Inkscape. (I don’t know if the postscript output is postscript pages, or eps vector objects.)

Thanks! Yeah, this is basically what I do now. I’m using PDF as this works nicely in OSX, but my biggest problem is that I can’t find any FOSS software to take care of the vector graphics later. Inkscape simply doesn’t work for me an Illustrator is not nearly free enough for me in any definition of free.

For now I’m using Illustrator for 6 more days. So here I first panelized a small PCB within KiCad (to make two) and then duplicated the graphics with Illustrator so I can double up the toner coverage for both sides of the pcb for copper and solder mask on one A4:

Whoops, I forgot to inverse the colors for the copper photo resist:

Did that in AI too.

I just use Inkscape and the postscript output.
You also can use pcbnew standalone, from the file menu you can import the pcbs you want to panelize and then export them.

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