There are two types of file formats that we use. The first is called a Vector file. The Vector format is basically all lines, curves, and color designation. This type of graphic can be scaled up or down without any distortion.
Our system uses a proprietary Vector format that can only be shared with other systems with like software. We can import other Vector file formats to our own format. These would include Adobe Illustrator (.ai), Corel Draw File (.cdr), Encapsulated Postscript (.eps), Windows Medafile (.wmf), and a CAD [Computer Assisted Drafting] program format (.dxf). Sizes designated in the files may or may not be converted. Other precautions also need be followed to insure usable conversion. First, all shapes have to closed and adjacent like colors combined. Even though shapes may appear closed and solid when filled, they may not be. Second, adjacent colors should kept to a minimum. Gaps may show in time. Third, any fonts included in the layout must be converted into graphics. This can be done through either an "Outline" command or a "change text to curves" command. Third, the images should only be vector type; bitmaps Finally, layering shapes on screen or print is much cleaner than layering vinyl. Any layering in vinyl will show seams in the final product.
Files coming from desktop programs, no matter how popular or
cannot be used. Documentation program files need to have the
program and fonts installed to read or print. Printing is not the same
as cutting. However, if a particular letterstyle you have is
it may be converted into a language we can use if it is an IBM
True Type Font (.ttf). This file can be copied from your
directory or gotten from its original font disk. Check under lettering
for more options. Macintosh, postscript, or True Type font may be
used with many restrictions.
The Second type of files we work with are raster files. Raster files are two dimensional arrays of "pixels". These pixels can be just Black or White (Black and White bitmap files) or have shades of Gray (Grayscale) or have color depth (Color). Unless these pictures are converted to Vector format they can only be printed. If need be we can vectorize a bitmap file to cut in vinyl. The vecorizing traces the edges of the pixels then retains the tracing and deletes the bitmap image. Bitmap ( Black and White) files are the only formats that can be directly vectorized. Because of the staircase edge effect that happens when a raster image is enlarged, the image needs to be created at as large a size that can be transported. Examples of bitmap files extensions would be (.pcx) and (.bmp). Other file formats may also be directly vectorized, but they must be in Black and White only.
With effort color images can be vectorized to be cut in vinyl. The colors need to be solid with distinct separation.
Spot coloring, whether it be solid or graduated fills, require vector type images. Colors are assigned to particular shapes then printed.
While only Vector type images can be cut, both Vector and Raster images can be printed. The same staircasing effect on raster images mentioned earlier make file size critical. The more an image is enlarged the worse the effect becomes. Optimum file size is 300 dpi at output size. This file size should be from original information and not photo program enlarged. Lettering and hard diagonal edges are the first areas to show distortion. Printing these images require the Four Color Process Printing process. File formats for these images would include (.tif), (.bmp), (.eps), and (.wmf).