Are vector and raster engraving different?

are vector and raster engraving different

There are big differences between vector and raster engraving. They are created by the same machine in different ways and give very different results using the same artwork. So when you’re thinking about your project, you need to think not just about the look of the product, but what your budget is. Raster engraving usually takes longer and therefore costs more than vector engraving.

In the image above, you can see that the top image was created using raster engraving and the one below with vector engraving.

How vector and raster engraving are created

Raster engraving is created by the laser scanning the engraved areas very much as a printer does, filling the area to be engraved line by line.

Vector engraving, on the other hand, is created more like a line drawing. The laser follows the vector lines and draws them as a single line. The video below shows this clearly on oak.

How do vector and raster engraving look?

Vector engraving looks much finer than raster engraving and is only a line thick. It’s best used where there’s a lot of fine detail that might get lost with raster engraving. It worked really well on these robin decorations by Jenna Chalmers and the Celtic lion shown on the Artwork Preparation Tips page of my website. Both pieces have very fine detail that shows up most clearly when engraved with this method.

vector engraved robin decorations

What vector engraving makes up for in well defined detail, it lacks in boldness. It’s perfect for small items, and is best seen at close quarters. It’s perfect for decorative work and for packing lots of detail into areas large and small.

Raster engraving, on the other hand, works better for bolder artwork with less very fine detail. It can be more 3D too as the engraved areas are recessed on materials like wood. It’s more suitable for signs than vector engraving, but it works just as well for coasters and branded presentation boxes. I use it on my business cards as there’s more contrast between the text and the pale birch plywood that the cards are made of.


Do you have a questions about laser cutting or engraving and how it might affect your project? Contact us with your questions and I’ll write a blog about it.