Laser engraving is more than just fixing any material in the work area and pressing a button. Each material has its own idiosyncrasies that will sometimes help you achieve your design goals and sometimes make it difficult for you. The following list will guide you through the properties of the most common materials.
Laser Engraving wood
In addition to natural wood, there is also plywood, which has several advantages. This laser-engraved material consists of several pieces of wood that are glued together. Therefore, plywood has higher mechanical resistance, water resistance and lightness. All these properties make plywood a staple product for builders, designers, artists and craftsmen.
Plywood has additional advantages over natural wood when it comes to laser engraving. When sliced, the latter reveal grains of different colors that result from the growth of different species during the season. These differences also translate to different laser-engraved surfaces. Typically, lighter areas will become brighter, and dark areas will become darker.
As a rule of thumb, unless the desired look for your design is a zebra pattern, it is best to use plywood with an even surface.
Also, when carving hardwoods, higher laser powers should always be used. Only in this way, you will have a smooth result.
Laser Engraved Leather
Finished leather can be laser engraved to create a look that resembles a hot brand. Avoid raster marks on large surfaces, as the leather will turn into a powder. Therefore, vector markers are recommended.
Since leather is a natural material, it may deform during the laser engraving process if too much power is applied.
Due to the variety of leathers, it is difficult to formulate a general rule for laser engraving. Therefore, it is not possible to determine the best laser engraving settings for each type individually. To do this, test your machine with a grayscale matrix.
Laser Engraved Paper/Cardboard
Due to the wide variety of paper and board, it is recommended to determine the best laser engraving settings for each type individually. To do this, test your machine with a grayscale matrix.
Laser Engraved Glass
There are several practical methods that can be used to control the effect of the laser on the glass surface.
Use a damp paper towel for a smoother surface finish and white engraving. Take care that there are no bubbles or overlaps, as this will distort the effect. After the engraving is complete, the paper towel can be easily wiped off.
An alternative to paper towels is to apply tape. Like wet wipes, applying tape is an excellent measure to prevent rough surfaces. The same caveats about bubbles and overlaps apply. However, instead of bright white, the final engraving color looks gray. After engraving, tape residue can be easily removed.
But what to do when your laser engraver doesn't have enough power to engrave glass? Even so, you can achieve high-contrast designs! Just cover the glass surface with tape. Then you engrave the design on the tape. Next, use a brush to apply a thin layer of paint to the exposed areas of the tape. After the paint dries, peel off the tape and carefully remove the tape residue.
Laser engraved stone
Experience has shown that laser engraving stone can be a small thing. You will get the best results with polished stones. To avoid distortion of the laser engraved pattern, try to use a gem with a flat surface. You can use modeling clay as a support to align the natural stone with the laser. When you set the focal point of the laser, apply an average value for an even result
If your results are poor, consider changing the Z offset value. This simple trick can dramatically improve your sculpting. Many professional laser engravers report that hard stone is easier to machine if you choose a negative Z offset value of 1mm or more. The physics behind this workaround is simple. The closer the surface to be engraved is to the laser, the more energy is coming in.
But what to do when your laser engraver doesn't have enough power to engrave stone? Or when dealing with extremely hard stones that do not produce satisfactory results? Even so, you can achieve high-contrast designs! Just cover the glass surface with tape. Then you engrave the design on the tape. Next, use a brush to apply a thin layer of paint to the exposed areas of the tape. After the paint has dried, peel off the tape and carefully remove the tape residue from the stone surface.
Our team members tried and tested the engravers we liked. So, here’s a list of the top products we recommend for various purposes.
Atomstack P9 M50 Laser Engraving Machine
Best Portable Engraver
Ideal for Beginners & Pros
Recommended for Wood/Leather/Glass