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How to - file types

Generally speaking, the less work we have to do, the less we charge you, so it is in your interests to ensure we have to do as little work as possible.

This page is headed "File types", but it is actually about more than that, it is about information supplied to us.

If you send us your files as .DXF or .AI with both set to "millimeters" then the amount of work we have to do is minimal.

If you send us your files as Word .doc then the amount of work we have to do is increased.

If you are sending us text to be engraved, then a simple .txt file containing the text you want engraving is sufficient, if accompanied by a separate text file giving us formatting information, such as "I want it all in copper plate gothic font, I want the top line in text about 30 mm high, and the next two lines in text about 20 mm high, I want all three lines centre justified, and I want the whole text area to be about 210 mm wide by 110 mm high"

If you are sending a drawing or design to be engraved, then a .dxf or .ai file is best, again, accompany it with a brief text file describing what you want, sizes, placement, etc. Bear in mind we can edit .dxf files, we cannot edit .ai files, we do not own copies of Adobe Illustrator.

If you are sending a drawing to be engraved as an image file, eg .jpg .bmp .tiff etc, then how useful it is to us is in direct relationship to the resolution of the image in pixels, 4000 x 3000 pixels is far far far more useful than 400 x 300, which really isn't a lot of use unless the item is very very small... Remember, if we are engraving at 0.1 mm per line this is 254 lines per inch, which means 100 pixels per centimeter or 254 pixels per inch.

Yesterday I got handed something that apparently broke all these rules, a piece of paper, thing was, it was for engraving some text on a wooden board, and the piece of paper contained a drawing of the wooden board, with the text they wanted placed and angled exactly the way they wanted it on that board, and underneath this drawing it specified the font they wanted to use, and (as mentioned elsewhere in the blog) it was a proper, decent quality, font, Copperplate Gothic. So despite it apparently breaking all the rules for what we want from you, it actually adhered to all of them.

Just because you send us a .dxf and not a .doc, doesn't mean you are automatically going to send us all the info we need to do the job just the way you want it, and this is the point that I wanted to make clear here.

Sending us our preferred file types is certainly a help, and preferable in every way to using other methods such as word docs or drawings on pieces of paper, however, the actual file types are just a vehicle, the cargo of the vehicle is the information we actually NEED, and while in an ideal world the required information cargo supplied in the correct file type vehicle is what we aim for, the information cargo is the more important of the two, and the file type vehicle is the lesser of the two.

Do we have all the INFORMATION we need, should be the first question you ask, and THEN you can move on towards getting us that information in a preferred file type if at all possible.

The image on the right is a link to full size, these are the file types that the laser itself can directly import, please note well, the laser itself can only import a file, it cannot edit it in any way, so the file *must* be laser ready and free from errors at this stage.

The reality is many of our customers and potential customers do not have oodles of software packages installed on their machine, so they can just pick and choose *which* drawing app to use... the reality is many people end up searching Google for something to download.

For those people, at the top of the results page, choose "search tools", and use them to refine the answers, so black and white and line art and min size are all things you should be looking at when doing image searches, and then you can narrow down further by choosing the preferred file type.

The bottom line here is the laser is literally a computer controlled device, and as such it will only accept certain types of file and data, by choosing a billing by machine time business model this means we want to try to minimize the amount of time we have to take to transfer your designs into laser acceptable file types and data sets, this saves you money, but it means you do have to do a little of the leg-work yourself.