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Laser Cutter Files

The laser cutter uses two file formats to produce images and shapes - vector and raster.


Vector files are composed of paths and lines to create the images or shapes.  Vector files have a file type of SVG or PDF.  These files are typically used to produce items that are cut out of a variety of materials or to score an image onto the surface of a variety of materials.



Raster files are composted of pixels to produce images.  Examples of raster file types are JPG or PNG.  These files are used to engrave images on to a variety of materials.


Create Laser Cutter Files

Creating SVG files from scratch requires software that can create vector graphics.  The most well-known of these is Adobe Illustrator.  However, there are less expensive or even free alternatives found here.  Designing in vector graphics program is one way to create SVG files, but there is also an easy work-around to doing so.  In just a few simple steps, a JPG file can be converted to an SVG and be ready for the laser cutter.  Important to remember: SVG files are for cutting out or scoring shapes or text (see images above).

Create an SVG file from a existing JPG file
Here is a great video demonstrating the steps below.  You can stop the video at the 3:50 mark or continue to watch for information on manipulating the file in Tinkercad or converting to an STL fil for use in the 3D printer.

  • Find and select JPG from web browser 
    • It is key that image be black and white so add the word stencil or silhouette to your search terms
  • Save image as a JPG
    • Right-click on the image and save as JPG
  • Convert JPG to an SVG file using an online image converter, such as or 
  • Download and save SVG for use on the laser cutter


Create an SVG file from an original image

  • Draw image by hand or with software
    • It is key that image be black and white
  • Scan or print & scan the image on a scanner and save as a JPG
  • Convert JPG to an SVG file using an online image converter, such as or 
  • Download and save SVG for use on the laser cutter