What is the difference between vector and raster graphic, and when to use which file format for laser cutting?

  • Raster graphics are made of numerous tiles, also known as pixels. The typical file formats for raster graphics are: JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP or PCX.
  • Vector graphics consist of single anchor points which are based on coordinates and can be connected through lines. The typical file formats for vectors are: SVG and DXF.


Resizing of a raster graphic does not increase the amount of pixels in the image, but rather every single pixel is being scaled individually. This means the quality of the picture gets worse and the image becomes blurry. You will notice that the edge of the graphic is pixelated. 

Resizing of a vector graphic on the other hand only changes the position of the coordinates. Their relation and connecting lines are recalculated by the program, and image quality stays the same.




 



We use raster graphics when we want to engrave a design with a filled surface area, e.g. a photograph or a logo on a cutting board. We use vector graphics when we want to cut something along a line, e.g. parts for model construction or wedding cards with paper lace.


We create a raster graphic when we take a picture with our smart phone or save a JPEG file on our computer. We normally use vector graphics for less detailed work, e.g. texts, logos or icons. Vector graphics need to be created point by point and line by line with special software. However, there are also plenty of free vector files out there, just google for “Royalty free vector graphics”. 

 

We recommend using Adobe Illustrator for creating or editing vector files. If you are looking for a free open-source alternative, have a look at Inkscape.


You will find more information at a glance in the video below (in German, but with English subtitles), and even more video tutorials on our YouTube Channel.