How do I determine the optimal laser parameters for my material?

Quick and easy determination of laser parameters

A perfect laser engraving and laser cutting result is only achievable with the right laser parameters. Laser parameters are a combination of the following settings:
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Resolution ppi/Frequency Hz
  • Passes
  • Air Assist
  • z-Offset (controlled defocusing)

Laser parameters in the Trotec JobControl® laser software

JobControl material database

Trotec's JobControl® laser software contains a wide selection of pre-tested laser parameters, allowing you to save time testing for optimum parameters by choosing from 50 different materials. For each product group, we offer two different parameter sets: optimised for time and optimised for quality.

"Quality" parameter sets are recommended for engraving applications with fine details, small font sizes and high contrast. Thus, the laser cut is also optimised e.g. glossy, flame-polished edges with acrylic.
"Speed" parameter sets are recommended for time-optimised applications that include simple shapes and designs with fewer finer lines and details.

We are constantly testing and adding new material parameters to the material database. Updates can either be installed via a JobControl® Software Release or downloaded online. You can also add your own materials and settings to the material database.

How can I adapt my parameters from the material database to achieve a darker or deeper engraving?

All of the laser parameters in the material database have been carefully determined. Depending on your application, small adjustments to the parameters may be required to achieve your desired result. For example, increasing the power value introduces more energy onto the material resulting in a darker and deeper engraving on the wood wood. The reverse is also true. Reducing the laser power results in a lighter engraving. We recommend making adjustments in small increments to find your ideal parameters. 

You can also create and manage the self-determined parameters in the material database.

Tip: Always change only a single parameter during a test process. For example, start with the power by testing different values in 5-10% increments. Then repeat the same process with the speed. Only then should you combine both parameter settings. This will allow you to isolate variables and determine how individual parameters affect results.

My material is not in the material database. Is there an easy way to determine the laser parameters?

We suggest you start with high speeds and low power when engraving and cutting new materials. This ensures a low laser impact on the material.
Here are three ways to quickly and easily determine your laser parameters for new materials.

Engraving template: black rectangle

In order to find the best possible engraving parameters for an unknown material, draw a black contourless rectangle in CorelDraw® or your design program. The size of the field depends on the size of the material; we suggest 50x50mm as a standard size.
Send the field at low power (about 10-20 %), maximum speed and 500 dpi to the laser. As soon as you start the job, the bi-directional communication between the laser and the JobControl® laser software allows you to change the parameters during the engraving process. If no result is visible at low power, you can adjust the power or speed directly in JobControl®. We recommend doubling the power level as a first step. Depending on how the result looks, increase or reduce the power level to until you find the best settings for you.

laser parameter test graycale matrix

Engraving template: Grayscale matrix

With laser processing, different colour intensities can be achieved on the material by means of various parameter settings. You can quickly and easily determine the desired colour intensity by using the grayscale matrix.

Cutting template

The following graphic is a good reference for testing cutting parameters. The rectangle with two differently rounded corners offers the advantage that both straight cutting lines and more complex shapes are possible with the tested settings. Send the graphic to the laser. Start again with lower power and a higher speed (we recommend a start speed of 5-10%) and find your desired cutting quality.

Note that cutting and engraving speeds are not comparable. Basically, cutting is slower than engraving. A "high" cutting speed means 10%.

What do the laser parameters actually mean?

Laser parameters such as power, speed, ppi, Hz, passes, Air Assist and z-offset - we briefly explaine the most important parameters for you in the following article:

Parameter definition

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