Tips & Tricks for Laser Processing Paper

Trotec laser systems can be used to process a wide array of paper products. For instance, you can make detailed cuts on greeting cards and product packaging, and engrave lettering on book covers and table tent cards.

Creating Light and Dark Engravings

Both light and dark markings can be achieved on a dyed paper workpiece.

A very low power output will yield lighter markings, while dark markings are created by applying higher power levels. If a paper workpiece has two layers, laser processing will remove the top layer so that the substrate is visible.

Read More About Paper Finishing

laser engraving on paper

Finding the Right Processing Parameters

There are myriad paper and cardboard products on the market with different characteristics (e.g., thickness, dye, finish). Therefore, depending on the specific paper used, the optimal processing parameters will vary.

However, you can easily determine your favourite laser settings using a grayscale matrix. This aid will help you to quickly determine how different cutting and engraving results can be achieved by adjusting your processing parameters.

Tip: By processing dual-layered paper, you can create contrast-rich engravings and achieve marking colours that would not be possible if conventional single-layered paper was used.

Avoiding Burnt Edges

When paper is laser cut at high speeds, the residue evaporates in the form of smoke. When the smoke is quickly removed, burns are not created on the paper. This is possible even when cutting very fine contours.

To extract smoke as it is created, we recommend enabling  Air Assist and using the  Vacuum Table (available for both Speedy and SP series).

laser cut paper focus

Picking a Lens

We recommend using a  1.5" lens when both cutting and engraving paper. Larger lenses are generally unnecessary.

What's more, the 1.5” lens is also ideal for creating highly detailed engravings and cuts.

setup for laser cutting paper

Selecting a Work Table

In the case of paper, the Vacuum Table provides the best workpiece processing results. This table contains small "air holes" that keep lightweight materials in place via vacuum suction. 

We suggest combining the Honeycomb Cutting Tabletop with the Vacuum Table. Not only does the Honeycomb Cutting Tabletop prevent the creation of unattractive cut marks on the vacuum table, but it also reduces residue formation on the reverse side of the paper workpiece.

Tip: The vacuum table is especially effective when the uncovered parts of the laser's work area are covered with material (e.g., standard printing paper).

Setting a Design Resolution

Simply put, the appropriate design resolution depends on the desired result. 

  • For standard paper engraving jobs, we recommend selecting a 500 dpi resolution in JobControl®'s Material database.
  • When engraving photos on paper, we recommend reducing the resolution to 250-333 dpi. If a higher resolution is used, the image pixels may overlap when translated onto paper, thereby reducing the quality of the engraving.
  • If you are cutting paper, we suggest using a 1000 dpi setting.

It is important to enable your laser's Air Assist function so that smoke can be extracted soon after it is formed.

Make Precise Cuts with JobControl® Vision

Make incredibly detailed and precise cuts using Trotec's Vision Print&Cut system. 

The system involves attaching a specially developed camera to the laser's head, which reads registration marks on your workpiece. This camera reads any distortions in the design, and the JobControl® Vision software makes the necessary corrections. Production times are thus accelerated and costly errors are avoided.

JobControl® Vision Instructions

Creating Pop-Up Cards

With a Trotec laser, you can create memorable pop-up cards for a variety of occasions. Complex and precise cuts can be made with ease and consistency, so whether you are making 1 or 100 cards, you can expect exceptional results.

Click Here for Instructions

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Contact our technical support team for assistance with your paper application.

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