Engrave or score?

What is the difference between engrave and score? There’s cut score and engrave but I need to know what the difference is. If I’m gonna be doing it on acrylic can anyone help me

There’s a handy tutorial or two that explain the differences:


First step is to understand the design constraints for the art/image that you are going to put into the Glowforge. File formats are many, but there are two important distinctions that one needs to understand first which is the difference between a bitmap image and a vector image. Think of a bitmap as a whole bunch of dots in a grid of different colors and/or shades. The screen of a computing device is like a bitmap in that it has so many dots per inch. That is how it gets higher or lower resolution. A bitmap image file, like a PNG or JPEG represents this type of image recreation. Photos and art that have lots of color and shading is usually made up of bitmaps. They are often called raster images because they can be created by moving the electronic beam of a CRT back and forth to light up the dots on the screen or by illuminating the pixels on an LED screen (experts, please excuse my simplification of this.)

These types of files/images default to an engrave in the Glowforge. That means the head moves left and right, line by line firing or not firing and and even varying the intensity of the beam. You create these files with a camera, or with something like Paint or Photoshop or GIMP. They are saved as BMPs, PNGs, or JPEGs typically. In the Glowforge user interface, you can set speed, power and lines per inch, all of which have an effect, or you can use the default settings for engrave. Photos that have a lot of varying shade or gradient of the percentage of color in any give spot can get lots of shades of engraving.

You can not cut out a shape with a pure bitmap image. There has to be a vector to enable you to cut the outline shape. So imagine you would have a photo to engrave. Then you would need to ensure there is a square/rectangle vector object in the design to allow you to cut it out.

The other type of file for creating images can be thought of as using math to draw shapes. so just as you can draw a circle of a specific size by using pi and the correct formula, so a computer can draw lines and shapes and different formula. These are vector files and think of them as made up of shapes bounded by outlines or actual single lines, vectors or paths as they can be called. You create these files with Illustrator or Inkscape and save them as SVGs.

The Glowforge processes these differently. Instead of sweeping back and forth across the bed, it actually follows the shape of the vector path to cut (high power slow speed) all the way through the material or score (low power high speed) just marking a line on the surface of the material. For vector art for cut and score you only set speed and power (ignoring for the moment the focus height which is taken care of otherwise).

Vector files can also be engraved. When a path object is made, a closed outline, the shape can be filled with a color, but the path itself isn’t defined with a color. That closed shape, filled can also be set to engrave. in the user interface. You can once again set speed, power, and lines per inch to get lighter or darker engraves. Vector engraves mean that the whole inner part of the object is engraved at one setting and is uniformly burned. The Glowforge can’t process gradient shades in filled vector shapes natively.

I hope this helps.


To the laser there is no difference. A score is a cut that doesn’t go all the way through the material.

This topic was automatically closed 32 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.