Raster VS Vector Engraving

Hello there!

I hope someone can point me to my settings or give me an explanation as to why there are differences.

First a question. Is it best practice to engrave a logo as a PNG file or a vector image file?

I think the answer to that will answer the following questions.

I did two engravings of the same logo. One of which was an SVG vector file format, and the other was a PNG raster file format. Again this was the same logo, and all of the lay settings on the laser were identical between runs. Focus distance remained the same, and it was ran on the exact same piece of material

The SVG run was much deeper than the PNG run. Does anyone know why this is?

Also, why when I try to google this topic. I can’t find anything but raster engraving vs vector cutting, and nothing about vector engraving? Are you just not supposed to engrave with a vector image?

I will be making a lot of my own designs. Should I export them as rasters instead of vectors when I make them?

Looks like I am asking the same question a bunch of different ways here. It boils down to why is there a difference when I engrave a raster image vs a vector image and which should I use?


If you have an image that is represented by varying shades of black, using a bitmap format will provide the best results.

Images that can be presented as a series of lines will give better results as vector files, but that’s not an absolute.

If your laser power is high enough, a vector image will cut the base material. Reducing the power will result in crisp lines that go into the surface, but not through and will typically be much thinner than lines created by the engraving process.

I have indeed used vector files to create engraving on a surface, expecting and getting thinner, sharply defined lines. The same file contained vector images with power settings appropriate for cutting through.

The “best” answer is the one that results in the work piece as you wish it to be.

Ultimately, engraving with vectors vs images is not much different, with a few caveats:

  • Images that are simple black & white, if run in ‘Threshold’ mode, are effectively identical to a vector version, as long as the image version is high enough resolution

  • Images that include shades of gray are usually run with a dithering mode, allowing them to represent other shades. If you have a shaded (gray) image, and you run it with dithering, it will likely appear lighter than a vector outline of that shape, because that wouldn’t be dithered and would run at full power

  • dithering is just alternating dots, to give the illusion of shading.

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