Laser cut acrylic thumbs

Laser cutting and laser engraving: The differences

Laser engraving and laser cutting are different processes, however a laser cuter and a laser engraver are in essence the same machine. The two terms are interchangeable depending on your personal application, so when laser cutting it is referred to as a laser cutter and when engraving a laser engraver.

In the following sections we will detail the precise processes.


How does laser engraving work?

Laser engraving is a process where a shape, graphic or picture (such as a JPG or PNG file) are reproduced on a material. When laser engraving the material being processed is removed point by point. When the laser moves horizontally along the individual laser engraving lines the material is removed line by line. This process is known as grid engraving.

 You can engrave many different files using this method, including photos, pictures, logos, inlays, fine and thick lettering.

Find out more about the precise process of raster engraving

How does laser cutting work?

Laser cutting is a thermal separation process where predetermined geometries are traversed and cut by the laser beam. Just like engraving, many different materials are suitable for laser cutting. For the cutting process a vector based file (lines and curves of a geometry) is the basis for the process.

 Laser cutting is ideal for cutting shapes such as letters, signs and tags along with materials which have been engraved.

Discover the laser cutting process


Are Trotec laser machines suitable for both laser engraving and laser cutting?

Yes, Trotec's range of laser machines are capable of both cutting and engraving materials. For example, a Speedy laser engraver can engrave a design onto wood and then cut the shape out.

Each machine is equipped with features such as cutting tables and lenses for each task. Trotec's SP series range of laser cutters also feature machine which are suitable for laser cutting large format materials.

My main application is laser cutting

Laser cutting is a quick and efficient process which leaves a clean edge on the material. Laser cutting typically requires a higher laser power (watt). From small scale to large format materials Trotec lasers can cut acrylic, woods and textiles, along with many other materials.

Discover the large format SP series of laser cutters

My application is laser engraving

Laser engraving typically has a smaller working area than laser cutting. This is designed for high processing speed. The speedy series of laser engraving machines are capable of engraving wood, plastic, leather, paper, stone and many other materials. Speedy lasers can also be equipped with a rotary attachment for glass engraving.

Speedy series laser engraving machines