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Raster vs. Vector - What is the Difference?

The laser engraver can do both raster and vector cutting in the same job. Raster cutting is good for engraving "photo" type of images. Vector cutting is the preferred method for cutting out shapes.

In the Raster Setting:

The laser beam moves in a left to right motion, pulsing on/off as it cuts/engraves. At the end of each x-axis travel, the beam then travels in the y-axis to the next line (like a printer "line-feed"). This "left-to-right" movement of the beam is like an ink-jet printer or your TV set. An example of raster artwork is a scanned image and a BitMaP (BMP) file.

Example of how a raster beam works in making a square:

1). laser cuts the top of the square as one continuous horizontal line in the 'X' direction --------------------

(2). laser advaces in the 'Y' direction and then moves in the 'X' pulsing "on" for the left and right side of the square - -

(3). laser advances again in 'Y' and then moves 'X' and again pulses "on" for the left and right side of the square - -

(4). this continues until the left and right sides are complete.

(5). Another horizontal continuous line in the 'X' direction makes the bottom of the square --------------------

Raster Example

Above: The black lines represent the cut and the red lines represent the laser movement.

In the Vector Setting:

The laser beam follows the line that is drawn. Vector cutting is used for quick marking, cut outs and perimeter cutting. For cutting out shapes or marking lettering, vector files are generally much smaller and cut/engrave operations much quicker than raster files. Example of vector artwork is AutoCAD, CorelDraw and Freehand drawn graphics.

Example of how a vector beam cuts a square:

(1). Laser stays on continuously and follows the square outline drawing the top, then the right, then the bottom, then the left ending where it started. Thus the laser makes four quick cuts.

Raster example

Above: The black lines represent the cut and the red lines represent the laser movement.