Simplify illustrator object to just its visible parts
I have a complex illustrator object, with many of overlapping sections hidden behind one another. I want to simplify it down to just its visible parts. How do I do this?
Why: I need to pass that to a laser cutter to cut the shape out. To make that work, I need to reduce the object to only the visible strokes that outline it. If I can collapse it down to just the visible parts, getting it down to just strokes from there is trivial, and a known good way of generating a file that will cut on the laser properly.
Note 1: None of the pathfinder operations accomplish this on their own. All of them change the object so that hidden parts appear or visible parts vanish.
Note 2: The object has too many parts to do by a process that involves doing the different parts one at a time/manually.
Pathfinder > Merge does not work...or
Object > Flatten Transparency does not work... or a combination of the two.... you are left no other options but to processes objects in sections/pieces. There's no other solution I'm aware of.