PNG files uploading as BMP

I just got my Glowforge and am so excited!! But i’m having an issue uploading a design. When i upload a PNG design it won’t allow me to choose “cut”, stating that bitmaps can only be engraved. I’m sure the file is a PNG. I’ve tried various browsers and no luck. I tried “add outline” but it only outlines the outer edge of the image, missing the details within the image. Thanks for any tips!!

Welcome to the group! Unfortunately, that’s how the Glowforge works.

PNG files (and JPG, etc…) are “bitmap” graphics. A bunch of pixels are grouped together to create the image.

To CUT, you need a “vector” graphic (all kinds of math stuff, angles and directions and distances, etc are calculated to create a graphic)

When the Glowforge cuts or scores, it uses that vector information to move around. For PNG and other bitmap files, it just burns a dot based on the pixel.

You’ll need to use a program like Adobe Illustrator or InkScape (free!) to create vectors for cutting.


Oh, I see. Thank you for the information. I thought the PNG would eliminate the “background”, but I’ll have to see if I have the vector option in the program I use. Thanks a bunch.

What software are you using?

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A transparent PNG can be utilized to eliminate background but doesn’t make any sort of vector :slight_smile:
The whole vector vs. raster concept a bit confusing at first but you’ll be a pro in no time.


BMP is a proprietary raster file format used on Windows. PNG is an open raster file format used across many platforms. Other raster image file formats are jpeg (JPG), GIF, TIFF, etc., some of which the Glowforge also supports. Some support transparency, some don’t/

You basically are saying your raster image uploaded as a raster image - which would be expected.

As stated, raster images can only be engraved.

Supported vector image formats include SVG, PDF, and to the chosen few, DXF, although saving a raster image inside an SVG or PDF doesn’t magically convert the design to vector format. It needs to have been designed as such, or converted (traced) within an appropriate app.


Inkscape ( is the free vector program that the advice section of references in their instructions. I’d suggest that one if you don’t already have a pack that includes a vector program :slight_smile:


If you have Glowforge Premium, you can use the Outline function to cut around your PNG bitmap. It’s the icon that looks like a mountain in the right-hand toolbar.

Here’s a tutorial that includes how to use the Outline function:


Thanks for the wealth of great answers @linefeed and others, you’re all correct. I’m going to close this thread now, thank you all for providing amazing responses!

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