Laser technology and textiles is a wonderfully effective combination. The targeted use of the laser beam can give textile material a high-quality and crisp finish. Patterns can also be created easily. Read on to learn about what you need to consider when processing natural and synthetic textiles.
Ultimately, natural and organic textiles are a great choice for laser cutting and laser engraving. You can even achieve a controlled colour change when laser engraving textiles. To do this, the basic colour of the material needs to be chosen carefully prior to processing.
Laser Engraving - Dark Natural Textiles
Dark denim and cotton fabrics can easily be 'bleached' by the laser beam. To do this, it is important to use a lower laser power (approx. 20% at 100w) and to engrave without a Z-offset.
- CAUTION: If you use too much laser power or the resolution is too high, you may rip or damage the fibres of the fabric. Depending on your graphic, a resolution of 250 - 500dpi is suitable.
Laser Engraving - Light Natural Textiles
If you'd like to achieve a dark engraving on a lighter material, you'll need to deliberately defocus the lens. For example, a Z-offset of 2 - 20mm can be used, depending on the material. The further the lens is from the material, the larger the laser spot will grow.
Laser Cutting - Natural Textiles
Try using a frequency of 1000 - 3000Hz when laser cutting. If you want to avoid the rustic, dark edges, try turning on Air Assist during the cutting process and use the nozzle with the smallest diameter. This way, you should achieve the cleanest cut possible.
Synthetic fabrics usually respond very well to laser processing. Most of them contain certain plastic materials, including polyester. The laser beam physically melts the fabric in a controlled, neat manner, providing a fibre-free and sealed edge every single time - no fraying! By adopting laser technology, you can achieve tangible and high-quality effects.
- Synthetic Leather
- Synthetic Felt
- Carpet Material
- Fleece Fabrics
Laser Engraving - Synthetic Textiles
Some fabrics - synthetic leather, fleece and felt - are very easy to engrave. The synthetic material physically melts during the laser process, which means you can create some very good contrasts. To achieve a homogeneous engraving result, try using a Z-offset of 1 - 5mm. You can also use a resolution of up to 500dpi for the engraving process.
- REMEMBER: Some textiles are not suitable for laser engraving. These include synthetic fibre materials, as they will melt and deform during the laser process. We always recommend testing your material before completing a large job. Try using the grayscale matrix to help with that.
Laser Cutting - Synthetic Textiles
Synthetic fabrics are perfect for laser cutting - it's like they were created specifically for laser processing! Due to the plastic content within the material, the individual fibres of the fabric merge and seal together. This saves you a lot of time because hemming and tying off fabric is unnecessary, and fraying is eliminated. To achieve a clean cut, it is important that the synthetic textiles are not cut with a very high laser power with a low speed. We would usually recommend a frequency between 1000Hz and 3000Hz.
- CAUTION: Synthetic materials, especially synthetic leather - usually contain PVC. You need to remember that PVC is not suitable for laser processing. It creates hazardous gases and lots of toxic dusts can be formed. This can endanger the life of your laser and your own wellbeing. Here you will find an overview of all the unsuitable materials for laser processing.
Determining the Cutting Parameters
Textiles are made up of natural fibres and chemical fibres, so composition can become very diverse. To be able to orientate yourself when determining your cutting parameters, it is important to differentiate between the Speedy Laser Engravers and the SP Laser Cutters. The parameters depend on the chosen platform and configuration.
For large geometries with lots of straight lines, usually you'll want the laser power to be stronger. That way, the material will cut faster. With Speedy lasers, you can achieve speeds of up to 15%. However, for precise cutting edges with smaller geometries, a reduction in speed and laser power is usually required. (With a Speedy engraver, max. cutting speeds of 3% should be used for completing something like the pattern shown the picture). With the SP Cutters, the integrated hardware and software will support you throughout the entire laser process, even when determining your laser parameters. You can use 'optimised speed' for a straight geometry, and depending on the laser power of your machine, speeds of up to 100% are possible.
Determining the Engraving Parameters
It's very quick and easy to determine your own engraving parameters, especially when you use the grayscale matrix. We always recommend testing a small piece of material prior to completing a large job, especially when using something new! This will help reduce damaged and wasted stock.
- REMEMBER: The more you defocus the lens (Z-offset of 0.5 - 20mm), the darker the engraving will become. Defocusing will increase the laser's spot size, which will also decrease the power density. It will then burn and blacken more material instead of passing straight through it in a gaseous form. So, if you want a black engraving, let the laser spot size grow.
LaserFlex is a high-quality and multi-layered engraving film that has been specifically designed for laser processing. You can now enrich your textiles with your very own designs - logos, lettering, graphics... whatever you can imagine! The sky is your only limit with laser technology. Optimal laser setting can vary depending on what machine you are using and its available laser power. We suggest always processing from the bottom and working your way up. Also, always use the highest possible exhaust. This way, any dust that is produced won't be drawn across the area that has already been processed.