What Files Does A Laser Cutter Use?

Laser cutters are used to make precise cuts in a wide variety of materials. So what files does a laser cutter use? This blog explores the different types of files used in laser cutting, and how different files are suited to different jobs.

1.Understanding Laser Cutter File Types

There are two main types of files used by laser cutters: vector files and raster files.

Vector files are essential for cutting operations. They contain the paths that guide the laser cutter in clean, continuous lines.

Raster files, by contrast, are better suited for engraving. They represent an image as a grid of pixels that the laser can etch into a surface all at once.

2.Vector Files For Laser Cutting

Vector files allow for precise control of the path of the laser. This feature allows for clean cuts on materials. Here are some of the most commonly used vector file types:

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

SVG files are flexible and scalable without sacrificing quality. SVG can fit everything from complex art to simple geometric shapes. Supported by so many software programs, it is also convenient for people without extensive technical experience.

DXF (Graphics Interchange Format)

DXF files were developed by Autodesk for use with AutoCAD, a more technical and engineering focused application. It maintains a high level of detail and accuracy. This allows for complex 3D cutting to very precise specifications.

AI (Adobe Illustrator)

Adobe Illustrator files are the first choice if you have a high demand for precision. AI files can accurately follow complex layers and paths. When preparing AI files for laser cutting, it is important to outline all text and convert all strokes to paths to ensure the machine accurately renders the design.


Mainly used in sign making and the textile industry, CDR files are CorelDRAW's proprietary format. They provide strong support for layout and text management, making them ideal for projects involving both graphic and text elements.

3.Raster Files For Laser Engraving

Raster files are superior in engraving applications. They represent images as pixels, which the laser follows as a path to create a detailed image in the material:

BMP (Bitmap Image File)

BMP is a simple raster file. It represents an image as pixels of different colors, which the laser cutter converts into depth levels for engraving. BMP is better suited for simple, images.


JPEG files are commonly used for photographs and detailed artwork. JPEG files can be used for laser engraving when fine detail is required. Yet, the compression inherent in JPEGs can sometimes reduce quality and affect the precision of the engraving. Be aware of compression when preparing these files for engraving.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

PNGs are ideal for detailed and complex images that must be transparency. This makes them ideal for high precision and detail integrity. Their ability to handle transparency allows for more complex layered effects in engraving, which is especially valuable in artistic applications.

4.Proprietary File Formats And Software

Some laser machine manufacturers develop proprietary file formats optimized for their machines. These formats work seamlessly with the machine software and offer unique features:

Enhanced control

Proprietary formats offer greater control over the laser's settings directly from the file. For example, power, speed, and pulse rate.

Integrated workflow

These files are often designed to integrate smoothly with the laser cutting machine's software. Simplifying the workflow from design to execution.

Custom features

Some proprietary formats support specific features that standard formats do not. Such as staggered cutting, multi-layer processing, or automatic color mapping.

Proprietary formats can offer significant advantages. However, the inability to switch software environments also limits their flexibility.

5.Practical Tips For Laser Cutting File Management

Efficient file management can greatly enhance the laser cutting process. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Organize files logically

Organize files by project, material type, and cutting settings. This helps to quickly adjust to different production needs.

Maintain file integrity

Avoid unnecessary conversions between different file formats. To prevent loss of details and accuracy.

Update regularly

Keep your design software and laser cutting machine firmware up to date. To ensure compatibility and take advantage of the latest improvements and features.


Handheld laser cutting machines have changed the way the industry approaches manufacturing tasks. By understanding and using the right file types, you can maximize the capabilities of your laser machinery. The advantages of using the right files can help you achieve high-quality cutting results.

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Whether you are a novice looking to explore the possibilities of laser cutting or a professional looking to optimize your workflow, please contact us! Let's cut smarter, not harder together!


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