Laser engraving a camouflage image

Relief mode: Highly productive laser engraving

Relief mode processes laser power based on the gray value of your graphic for laser engraving, meaning that you can have different power levels running in the same job. By reading on you will find out more about the process and how it could boost your productivity.

Process type: Standard vs. Relief mode

Standard mode

Using your laser engraving machine to engrave in standard mode means the laser power is selected in the parameter database using various RGB colours. The laser will then process multiple colours one after the other.

Relief mode

When using relief mode, multiple engraving colours or laser power levels can be processed in one job. The laser power is dependant upon the gray value of the selected graphic. This means that no power is applied for processing white, low power for light areas, higher power for dark areas and full power for laser engraving black areas.
This requires an 8-bit grayscale graphic (256 grayscale values). During printing colour images are converted to grayscale automatically. Processing times can greatly reduced compared to standard mode.

Time saving engraving

Using an engraved camouflage pattern we will show you how effective relief mode engraving is. We engraved this 15x15 cm graphic using a Speedy 300, 60W laser engraving machine in just under 38 mins in standard mode with multiple RGB engraving parameters (diagram A).

In Relief mode, the same laser engraved result was produced in 13:47 using the same speed settings (diagram B). This means that the total processing time saved is almost 2/3.

By processing as little as two different engraving settings together, you will achieve a 50% increase in productivity!

How can I find out if my material allows multiple engraving effects?

To determine the whether your materials allows multiple colours when laser engraving, you'll need to determine the parameters grayscale matrix.Once engraved you can see which effects are desirable for your job. For our example we chose boxes 22, 30 and 50.


Let the grayscale matrix run in the same width as your subsequent graphic. Due to the acceleration distance, whether only five centimetres or fifteen centimetres are traversed can make a significant different in sensitive materials.

How should I prepare my graphic?

Editing your graphic is an essential step to be able to engrave multiple effects in a single laser job. Normally a colour from the RGC colour palette is assigned for each different engraving (Diagram A).Using our method you will instead assign the grayscale values that you previously selected from the grayscale matrix. So in this example the three different colours are 22% gray, 30% gray and 50% gray.

How do I correctly send the graphic to my Trotec laser?

Relief mode is essential for your Trotec laser engraving machine to correctly engrave the grayscale matrix. When you send your graphic to the laser machine you use exactly the same settings as if sending the grayscale matrix. Your only need to enter the final size of your graphic. Due to the three gray values assigned to our graphic, the laser power output is always based on the grayscale. This means that with a grayscale value of 22%, only 22% of the power entered in the parameter database will be output.

Which settings do I need to set in the parameter database?

The settings in the parameter database are very simple: Use the same parameters that you used before in the grayscale matrix. As already mentioned, we control the power using the grayscale values in the graphic, so no adjustment is required here.

When can I use this method?

This method is always suitable for processing multiple engraving parameters in one job. You must ensure that all engraving parameters use the same z-Offset value.

What's more, relief mode is possible on all Trotec laser machines, allowing you save production time regardless of your laser machine model.

Further information

Need additional help with relief engraving?

Contact the Trotec service hotline to speak to one of your laser experts who will assist you with your query.

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