Laser Engraving Files: All you Need to Know
Laser engraving is quickly becoming the most popular way to leave an etched mark on certain products. As the name suggests, laser engraving allows you to use laser power to permanently mark any materials, such as acrylic, leather , wood, and metal. Laser engraving is widely used, as its high precision and accuracy allow people to make customized markings on their material.
Laser engraving is achieved by vaporizing the targeted area in a pattern or style of your choice. Many industries, such as the automotive industry, use fiber laser engraving to mark their products with barcodes, serial numbers, logos, and QR codes. Some use it to create art and decorations by engraving beautiful images onto various surfaces. To get the image you desire, you need the correct laser engraving files. OMTech Laser is here to guide you on your laser engraving journey.
What are Laser Engraving Files?
(SVG File designed by Jim Schwarzbach)
You need a specific type of file to engrave an image. This is known as a bitmap file. Simply put, a bitmap file is a table that contains information about the image you want to engrave. This information is displayed as points of varying intensities that mark the surface you are about to engrave. A computer can generate a suitable format for the image through a process known as rasterization.
The image generated is called a vector and is necessary for laser engraving. The density of black dots can give the impression of shading and depth. You can make your image darker by engraving more black dots in a particular area or lighter by using fewer black dots. To create 3D images on your material, you need 3D laser engraving files. Many people use laser power to create 3D models. These file types specify various depths on your surface to create a three-dimensional image.
How are Designs for Laser Engraving Made with Vector Files?
So, why can’t you use just any image to laser engrave your design? Laser engraving files are specific files known as vectors. A regular image, known as a raster image, contains pixels. That means that the resolution changes as you zoom into the image, making it incompatible with laser engraving. To engrave a design on your surface, you need a vector. Vector formats are not pixelated. They are composed of lines and shapes that will look smooth despite the resolution. If you zoom into a vector image, it will still have soft edges rather than pixels.
Vector files use mathematical equations to represent the shapes and lines in your design. Instead of adding color to pixels, a vector file uses a mathematical formula. This mathematical element allows for higher levels of precision and accuracy.
What Laser Engraving Software is Used to Create Vectors?
Laser engraving files can be easily downloaded from numerous websites, many of which offer free files. However, some engravers prefer a personalized design. You can create your laser engraving design to create a customized piece of art. All you have to do is create your own vector file. So, how do you create these vector designs for laser cutting? You don’t need any special skills or qualifications in graphic design to do this. Thankfully, there are softwares that can do it for you:
Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular vector drawing programs for creating laser engraving files. Adobe Illustrator allows you to create images that won’t be affected by resolution. It offers users an Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) format, the most common vector format for laser engraving files. Additionally, Adobe Illustrator can work on most operating systems, so Mac and Windows users can enjoy it. That is why it is so popular in the laser engraving industry.
Plus, Adobe Illustrator integrates well with other Adobe products for reading and writing EPS. This is especially useful if you use Flash or Photoshop. You won’t need to import your vector images from other software. Adobe Illustrator can send your vector images to your laser engraving machine. Here’s a video on how to create laser engraving files on Adobe Illustrator:
SVG-Edit is a free web-based vector creator. Not only does it allow you to create vector files, but it also allows you to edit them. SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. In fact, SVG-Edit is an open-source, web-based vector tool, meaning you won’t need to install special software to use it. It has image-manipulation features that can be used to edit and create personalized vectors.
SVG-Edit can be made into a Firefox add-on, Chrome extension, or widget for Opera. SVG-Edit is highly recommended by many laser engravers. For easy vector file creation, try SVG-Edit.
Laser Cutting Image File Ready for us?
After deciding on your desired laser cutting image and you’ve converted it into a proper laser cutting file with the right vectors and file type format, it's time to insert it into your laser engraving software. Open up the Lightburn software on your computer. Lightburn is the most popular laser cutting and engraving software for editing and laying out imaging when using laser machines. You can use your Lightburn app to easily import your laser cutting designs and artwork by selecting File and insert your image SVG file.
The next step is to apply changes to your power, speed, cut order and number of passes setting depending on your project. Click here to learn more about laser cutting power and speed settings. Once you have your laser settings set in place, you can now click the frame button to test the engraving area and then begin engraving your laser projects right away.
Are you new to laser engraving? At OMTech Laser, we have everything you need to be successful on your laser engraving journey. You have already learned about laser engraving files and creating vectors. With this information, you can go on to create or download beautiful designs to engrave.
If you are just getting started, we have a wide range of laser machines that you can choose from. Whether you need an entry-level desktop CO2 laser engraver or a Fiber metal marking laser machine, we have you covered.
Once you have your laser engraving machine, you can browse our selection of craft supplies and free vector files for laser engraving. Rely on OMTech for all your laser engraving needs!