Prepping Raster Files to Laser Mark Your Logo
Laser marking is great for logos but if you don’t get them just right, the mark may end up blurry or jagged – not the look you want to represent your company. To get a high-quality logo on your parts, you need to prep the image properly and find the optimal settings on your laser.
In this SCHMIDT Tip, you’ll learn how to prepare logos saved in raster file formats such as jpegs and bitmaps (to learn how to prepare vector files, check out “Perfecting Your Logo Part 2: Vector Files”). If you can’t watch the video above, or if you prefer to read a summary of the instructions, continue reading below.
After you finish watching “Perfecting Your Logo Part 1: Raster Files,” learn more about the GeoMARK Pro that was featured in the video, as well as the rest of our line of GeoMARK lasers, accessories, and custom options in our new laser catalog. If you need more information or want to discuss your laser marking application, we’d be happy to speak with you. Click here to find your Regional Manager’s contact info.
What are raster files?
Raster files are images made up of tiny squares that contain color information – these are called dots or pixels. The number of dots in each image make up its resolution which is measured by dots per inch or dpi. So a 1” square with a resolution of 72dpi has 5,184 dots of color information. The higher the resolution, the more detail an image will have.
Some of the most commonly used types are jpegs, bitmaps, gifs, and .png files.
Scaling raster files
When enlarging a raster image, the result will become blurrier the larger the image gets. This is because enlarging and raster image doesn’t increase the number of pixels used to make the image. Instead, the existing pixels are stretched out to make the image bigger, causing fuzziness and jagged lines. This is what it means for an image to look “pixelated.”
Take a look at the logo below. The image on the left was a small, low resolution image that we enlarged. As a result, it’s blurry with some jagged lines, particularly along the curves. The image on the right is a bigger, high-res image and as such, doesn’t suffer from the same issues.
When using a raster file to laser mark your logo, use a large, high-quality image that is as big or bigger than you need it to be so you don’t have to enlarge it.
Prepping the raster file
Now that we know a little more about raster files , let’s talk about marking. Please note that these are guidelines to help you find the optimal settings for logo marking. What’s best for you will depend on your laser and application.
Before you upload your logo to your laser software, you need to prepare the image. You can use professional photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, but using something as simple Microsoft Paint is fine too.
Again, make sure that the raster file is using an appropriate size and resolution for your mark. What’s appropriate will depend on what your logo looks like and how big of a mark you’re making. Generally, we recommend using as high of a resolution as you can. You should also use an image that is bigger than the mark you’ll be making.
Next, make sure the image is black and white only and that there are no shades of either color. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to open the image in Microsoft Paint and save it as a monochrome bitmap.
Lastly, make sure your image is clean: that there aren’t any unwanted marks, shapes, shades, or shadows in the image.
Once your image is prepped, you can import the image into your laser software.
Configuring your software settings
After importing your logo into your laser marking software, you may need to resize it.
If the logo is too big, you can just scale it down and set the logo in the marking field where you need it. However, if the logo is too small, don’t enlarge it here. As mentioned before, doing so will distort the image and give you a really low-res mark. You’ll want to import a bigger, higher res version of your logo if it’s too small.
Finally, there’s the dither step. The dither step determines the dots per inch of the mark (depending on your software, this setting may have a different name). For example, if you set this to .05mm per pixel, each pixel on the screen is going to be .05mm wide on the marked part. You can choose any number for this step, but just remember: the smaller the millimeters per pixel, the longer it will take to complete the mark. Some trial and error will likely needed to find the right combination of quality and speed.
Once you’ve applied these settings, you’re ready to mark!
Prepping vector files
Are you working with vector files instead of raster files? Watch “Perfecting Your Logo Part 2: Vector Files” for tips!