What is vector file?

Perhaps, you have read vector files or formats during your studies or when exploring some images. However, this file format is significantly valuable when working with these images for different tasks. Therefore, it becomes essential for many to understand all file formats of images and their utilization according to their requirements. In the following lines, we will explore different vector file formats, their difference from raster files, and their importance in tasks related to machines like CNC engraving or embroidery machines.

Vector File Formats

We know we can save some images as a vector graphic file. Saving images in a vector file means we cannot compromise on losing the quality of the image, whether we need to make it smaller or larger. Moreover, vector files have some more subtypes, which are AI (Adobe Illustrator) files, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), and EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) files. You must also understand that only a compatible app can help you edit these vector files. However, viewing these files is not an issue at all.

Difference between vector files with raster files

Generally, we can find two types of images when exploring our computers. These are vector and raster files. While talking about the importance and significance, vector files are more important than raster files. However, identifying a vector file is also critical for a layperson. So, let us explore vector files in more detail!

Understanding vector files

Before understanding vector files, we must understand that raster files are generally bitmaps. These files consist of pixels, and each grid of these pixels is assigned a particular and precise color. On the other hand, vector files consist of mathematically defined shapes. These images are made from curves and lines defined mathematically and geometrically.

Due to these particular features, we can increase or decrease the sizes of vector images to an unlimited level, and it is confirmed that image quality will remain the same.

How to identify a vector file?

It is not a difficult task to perform. Vector files are available in specific file formats, and we can easily pick them out if we have some knowledge.

As described earlier, raster files can be in formats like JPEG and PNG. Similarly, vector files are available in AI, EPS, PDF, and SVG formats.

However, you will find the SVG file format at the top while discussing the most relevant and critical format. So, in the following lines, we will try to understand SVG files.

SVG files

SVG cut files are scalable Vector Graphics that are designed to be read by cutting machines such as Cricut, Silhouette, Brother Scan cut, Glow forge, and others. They are so precisely formatted that the laser and blades in the machine precisely follow the path designed by the designers.

Understanding CNC Engraving

First of all, we need to understand CNC. It is the abbreviation of computer numerical control, and we can automate a machine’s complete processing with a computer’s help. Overall, this automation is called CNC.

Overall, we need to mention that the CNC project is a specific task to perform the cutting. Moreover, there are three cutting strategies for which we need to use CNC. Let us explore these three strategies!

To complete the whole cutting process while maintaining the same height, 2D cutting is the most useful and helpful method. Laser cutting is the most relevant example of it.

When we need to change the heights, we can refer to 2.5D cutting. This strategy may involve numerous flat features after addressing different depths.

When using the 3D cutting strategy, the machines allow us to simultaneously move it in all the axes.

Now, we have understood all the three cutting strategies that make the whole CNC project. The next point is that file types play a significant role if following the CNC model. Although, for a 3D mesh, we need to go with 3D objects or STL files. However, it does not always happen, and we can resolve our issues with 2.5D or 3D CNC cutting. Moreover, only vector files allow us to use 2D and 2.5D files and complete tasks.

Understanding the relationship between CNC and vector files

Now, we have understood how CNC machines work and what types of files they need to perform their tasks. We also have some information about vector files made of those objects, which follow mathematical equations. These objects are sizes, colors, coordinates, lines, and shapes. These points help establish those particular points essential on a Cartesian plane.

While discussing the relation, we know that vector files can be managed with CAM programs that can read raster and vector files. However, only vector files are editable. It is considered the biggest advantage of vector files because you can alter the design or generate a new one with the help of the existing one. Moreover, we can also save these images in JPEG and PNG files.

While talking about SVG files specifically, the biggest advantage of these files is that you can maximize or minimize the image size to the maximum level without compromising on quality. Therefore, many artists prefer it for pins, stickers, and many other such things. Moreover, these files can be converted into G-Code, the most readable file format for many machines.

How do CNC machines work when using vector files?

The vector image is available to the CNC router that will use with the chipboard sign. First, we will construct the simplest shape in illustrator that you can use for designing. We must understand that using illustrator means constructing the image. Some people think that this tool is for drawing, but it is not so.

You must follow the CNC router if you want to design something. For example, if the router bit is 1/8 bit inches, you can’t make your design smaller than this size. Moreover, it would help if you remembered that using a laser etcher requires some extra but technical aspects to learn. However, it has been proved that CNC graving machines have a strong relationship with vector files, and all those who use CNC machines must have extensive knowledge of vector and raster files.

Final Words

We have tried to inform you about some basic yet technical aspects of vector files, SVG files, and CNC machines. However, our effort here was to inform you about these technical terms. There is a lot more learning. However, we hope you have some grip on this topic now.

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