Laser Cutting vs Laser Etching

Laser cutting and laser etching are two separate processes, done on separate machines. Learn the differences and file requirements for each.

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a "thermal separation" process, which means that the heat from the laser beam cuts all the way through the metal. During the process, a line-based (or "vector" file) such as an  AI, DWG, DXF or SVG file is sent to the laser, the laser traces the design and cuts the shape with the laser beam. The end product is a cut-out shape or letter.


We only accept vector files for the laser cutter. If you'd like to learn more, check out the blog post below:

Laser Etching

Laser engraving is often referred to as “scoring.” The vector file to be etched is sent to the laser software, the outline is identified as vector engraving. The design is is traced by the laser and then engraved. The laser needs to move more slowly for etching than it does for engraving. The result is scored lines on the surface of the metal as opposed to being cut through.

Can I send a raster file to the etcher?

We only accept vector files for the etcher. While, we'd love to etch a photo of your adorable pet, we need you to make your pet a black and white, silhouette, and convert it to a vector file first.


In the example above the customer roughly drew over the major areas of her dog in a raster program and then converted to vector using the Inkscape (free vector software) tutorial below. Check out the following tutorials for converting files in Illustrator and Inkscape.

Have more questions?

We're always here to answer any questions you may have. Shoot us an email at