What Kind of Artwork Files Do Laser Engravers Need?
Vector Files: .AI .EPS .PDF and sometimes .SVG
Raster Files: .JPG or .PNG with a preferred resolution of 300dpi or more. 1000px or larger.
What the heck is a vector?
The main difference between a vector file and an raster file, the important bit anyway, is that a vector file can be scaled to any size and retain it's quality. Want your image on a postage stamp? Vector works. Want it on the side of a building? That's fine too. There's no limit to the size and that's because of the way the file is built. Keep reading for more details about raster images and vector images.
With rasterized images you have a grid of pixels and each pixel is instructed to be a specific color. If there are 300 pixels in your raster image - those are the only 300 pixels you have, whether your image is an inch wide or 1000 inches wide. Obviously at 1000 inches you're going to see very clearly each of those 300 pixels. It will look like blurry digital garbage. Raster graphics do WORK for engraving purposes, but they need to be very large and of sufficient resolution so your engraver can trace that rasterized graphic into a vector.
Vector images use points and paths to instruct the computer how to display an image. Instead of a grid of pixels with a finite number of colored squares you have three or more points connected by paths to make a shape. Each shape has a color value. Since the shape is made simply of points and paths it can be scaled to any size without looking pixelated or blurry. This is great news for the client because whether we're putting your text or logo on a wine glass or a giant sheet of acrylic it will retain the same quality is has on screen. Laser engraving and cutting systems use these points and paths in their programming to complete their work!
Shading and Gradients
Shading and gradients don't typically play nicely with laser engraving systems. If you're artwork requires shading of some sort there will probably be an associated art preparation fee. In practice, most logos don't need shading to look great laser engraved. You'll want your graphic to be as close to The bottom MLE logo in the screenshot to the left. Black on a white or transparent background. Vector if possible.
In this example we've taken the Instagram logo which is littered with all kinds of shading, colors, and gradients and made it laser engraving ready. Black on white, high resolution. No discernible pixelated or blurry edges. The Instagram logo on the bottom will POP off the material you've chosen to engrave. The vector will be clearly visible, providing tons of contrast and sharp bold lines.
Wow, there's a lot here! Look, you don't need to know all of this stuff. Your engraver should be able to help you with all your artwork needs from start to finish - but if you want to save some money on art and design fees, these helpful tips will help you get your art up to snuff and save you some serious time and money! At Monroe Laser Engraving we're happy to upscale your artwork for you. For most jobs, artwork preparation is FREE! That's part of the service promise we make to the Rochester Area and you, the consumer! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email if you have any questions. Till next time!