Processing Data Differences with the Etcher Laser
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Processing Data Differences with the Etcher Laser

Our laser machines are capable of processing via cutting or engraving. However, they are not necessarily able to both cut and engrave all types of data. You must prepare the appropriate type of data for each.
In this article, we will explain the necessary data for processing with the Etcher Laser as well as include some actual processing results.

Types of Data

Our laser software can read various types of data, but these data can be divided into two main types; “raster” and “vector” data.

Raster Data

Raster data is a composition of tiny squares (pixels). Color and density can be recorded in each individual pixel. This is mainly photo data. In you zoom in on a photo taken with a digital camera, you can see that the photo is comprised of these many tiny squares.

Vector Data

Vector data is an image recorded as a numerical value. The image is depicted by recording and calculating the coordinates of a point and the lines connecting them. Typical formats include ‘svg’ and ‘dxf’. These data can be created using drawing software (such as Illustrator) and CAD software.

Processing Raster Data

Raster data processing is a good method for engraving illustrations and photographs with gradation. This method irradiates the laser at a point. But rather than just explaining, let’s look at some actual processing.

The cat images below were originally in color but were converted to black and white after being loaded into the software. When depicting an image such as this via laser engraving, the density of the image is not expressed by the intensity of the laser, but rather the laser’s irradiation density. In other words, the black parts of the image induce higher irradiation intensity (more points), and the white parts have lower irradiation density (fewer points).

Here are the actual processing results. You can see that the points gather to create the image. Think of raster data processing as a sketch.

Typical raster data formats are ‘jpg’ and ‘png’. Raster data is for conducting etching/engraving (drawing images), whereas vector data (described below) is necessary for cutting.

Processing Vector Data

For vector data, there are two processing methods; ‘line’ and ‘fill’.

Vector Data ‘Line’ Processing

This method is good for cutting and engraving straight and curved lines. Let’s delve into the cutting process.

Here is a vector data file created in Illustrator. You can create data for cutting by representing a figure as ‘pass’. You can also assign different processing parameters (laser speed and power) by using separate line colors.

Here is the result. When cutting, vector data is key, and file formats such as ‘svg’ and ‘dxf’ are necessary.

Vector Data ‘Fill’ Processing

This method is best for words and logo engravings.

In order to engrave using vector data, you can create data in which you set the ‘pass’ to ‘fill-in’. You can also assign different processing parameters within the software by using separate fill colors.

‘Fill’ vector data engravings are made by thin, straight, parallel lines layered side-by-side rather than points.

Here is the result. When engraving vector data, it is not possible to show contrast or gradation of the image, and ‘svg’ format is necessary.

Lastly, we leave off with a quick review of which type of data is best suited for the different processing methods.

Raster Data

Raster data is suited for engraving images and photos with gradation or shading.

Vector Data -Line-

This method is well-suited for cutting and engraving straight and curved lines.

Vector Data -Fill-

This method is best for letters, logos, and filling in solid color engravings.

As the type of data that is necessary changes depending the desired processing results, please use this article as a reference when preparing your own data.

Etcher Laser Team