An Illustrator plugin will/should/is to be expected per previous comments made. I am well versed on the differences between a vector and raster image from a technical and designer perspective. I’m not so well versed on laser cutting differences between the two. I’ve only come across one direct comparison video using type as an example of how the laser cuts differently.
My initial reasoning for posting this was a couple of thoughts that I had about Illustrators gradient mesh tool. It’s incredibly powerful! You can often make an illustration look photo-realistic.
For example, when I was in school one of our assignments was to put together something that indicated our knowledge of the gradient mesh tool. I put together basically an ad for Ferrari using one of their cars. Pretty simple - a bit of text and the car itself. Projected it to the big screen and the instructors words to me, “you weren’t supposed to use a picture of a car, you were supposed to use the mesh tool in an illustration.” I turned on the outlines function and his response was, “oh, wow!” It was a photorealistic Ferrari - completely vector.
That’s just to give an idea of how powerful it is. So I guess a few questions and thoughts:
Would we see a performance or quality difference between printing a vector file versus say a jpeg exported at 300 (or higher) DPI?
Have you guys used the gradient mesh tool in any kind of engravings? I could see advantages to taking the time to create a proper grayscale vector of a project to be repeated multiple times for engraving or even variable depth engraving if their was a performance or quality increase vs a rasterized image.