How does laser engraving work?

Here, we will show you how laser engraving works and which materials you can and can't engrave with a laser.

Laser engraving is usually used to give a product an individual design or personal touch. Products can include sports trophies, ballpoint pens and components marked with serial/batch numbers. You can engrave almost any design on to almost any material. Here, we will explain how exactly laser engraving works. 

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Laser Engraving - Let's Get Technical...

When engraving, the laser beam impinges upon your chosen material. This exposes it to a great deal of rapidly increasing heat. Depending on the exposure time, the colour of the material will either change and create a distinct contrast, or completely evaporate/burn. The resulting mark will be permanent and abrasion resistant. 

It's As Easy As Printing!

Laser engraving really is as simple as printing. Firstly, you need to create the layout of the engraving in your usual, preferred graphics program (including CorelDraw, Photoshop, AutoCAD, Illustrator, InkScape, etc). Then, you can use the printer driver to send your graphic to the laser machine itself. Now, all you need to do is push a button, and the material will be laser engraved right before your eyes. If required, advanced settings can be set in the provided JobControl® laser software. The process types stored in the printer driver will make your everyday work much easier - it will automatically optimise graphically required processes. 

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How does laser engraving work? Here's the basics...

Learn more about the process of laser engraving in this video

Raster & Vector Engraving: Two Different Kinds of Laser Engraving

Raster engraving is the standard process of laser engraving. Here, a graphic built from thousands of pixels is engraved line by line, point by point. With vector engraving, however, the graphic consists of curves and lines that are traced one by one, “vector by vector” and engraved simultaneously. Vector engraving is sometimes referred to as “scoring".

For large applications, like filled-in letters, images, stamps and wood engraving, raster engraving is the best-suited method. However, on you're only engraving small, thin lines, you should try using vector engraving - it will be quicker and of higher quality.

Laser Engraving vs Mechanical Engraving

Larger Field of Application

The laser beam happens to be a universal tool for many different materials, including wood, glass, MDF, textiles, paper, foil, some metals and much more.

No-Contact Material Processing

When mechanically engraving something, you usually need to clamp or fixate the material to the working bed. This can take a lot of time and sometimes even damage the material. When using a laser machine, this step is no longer necessary. The processing is contactless, so no chips or dust will be produced. This will save you time and money.

Tools Will Not Wear Out

Due to this non-contact processing, there will never be any costs for new tools, cutters or drills. 

Maximum Precision & Fine Details

Laser technology can make it possible to engrave very small, fine images with maximum precision. Basically, anything that can be drawn can, likewise, be engraved with a laser machine. 

Economic Production

The production of both small and large series is cost-effective and economically feasible.

Special Application: You Can Even Engrave Photos with a Laser!

Photographs can add a very special touch to an otherwise standard product or gift. Photo engraving can be done quickly and easily with a Trotec laser machine. The Trotec JobControl® laser software will support you during the implementation of your engraving job. With 'integrated photo mode', the image can be automatically optimised for laser processing, in accordance with a complex logic, and sent to your laser machine. So, don't worry if you're not a photo-processing expert - photo engraving is very simple with Trotec laser.

Laser Engraving Machines

Other Laser Applications: Marking & Cutting

Trotec laser machines can do much more than engrave... We also have systems suitable for marking and cutting. 

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