Every week, Team Protocase is bringing you a Proto Tech Tip video, where we’ll give an informative look at a particular aspect of sheet metal fabrication and CNC Machining.

This week, Janelle, operations manager for the Engineering & Design Services team, discusses the differences between raster and vector files, and explains why you should always provide your graphics files in vector format.

Watch the full video below – or, if you’d prefer to read Janelle’s Proto Tech Tip, we’ve got the full transcription below.

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Hey everybody, Janelle here with another Proto Tech Tip. Today we’re going to focus on the graphic files we accept when adding labeling and branding to your enclosure. If you haven’t yet
checked out our previous tech tip video on digital print vs. silkscreen, I highly suggest you check it out.

There are two different types of graphics file formats: raster and vector. Today we’re going to talk about the difference between each. There’s one key thing to know right off the bat. We need vector files in order to ensure the highest print quality of your graphics. A vector graphic is the digital image created with software using lines and shapes in a two or three dimensional space.

The biggest advantage to creating vector files is the ability to scale the files as big or as small as you needed without losing any quality. This format also allows you to be able to change the color with ease. Some common vector file types are AI, EPS, SVG and you can also save them as PDF files.

I mentioned before that we require these files to ensure the highest quality possible. When using digital print we use an under base of white under all printed graphics to ensure the most accurate color. With silk-screening, we use vector files to change the graphics to a solid black color in order to burn it into the screen properly.

A raster graphic is created through software or captured through a camera scanner or other devices so if you’re sending us a lower quality raster image that needs to be scaled higher, the end graphic may end up losing quality and becoming blurry or pixelated.

Some raster file types are PNG, JPEG and bitmap. A vector file can be saved as a raster image, but a raster image can’t be saved as a vector file.

Keep this in mind when preparing files to send to us. To sum things up, when creating your graphics, vector files are the way to go for the best quality results. Thanks for watching this week’s Proto Tech Tip and we’ll see you next week.

About The Author

Christa Carey

Christa Carey has been with Protocase since the very beginning. In fact, she was the first employee the company hired back in 2002, after working for the Protocase co-founders in a previous job. She graduated in 2000 from Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada. As the CNC Engineering and Design Services Technical Services Manager, Christa manages a team of engineers and technologists who work with Protocase customers daily to provide quotes, assess the manufacturability of their designs, suggest design changes where required and finalize files for approval.

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