Tips and tricks for laser cutting and engraving paper

Trotec laser machines are the optimum tool for  processing paper and card. You can refine greeting cards, book covers, table decorations or packaging with a detailed engraving or filigree pattern using a laser machine. Here are some helpful tips regarding the laser cutting and laser engraving of paper.

Voucher processed with outer cut

Will the laser engraving results on paper always be dark?

The engraving results depend on different factors. Dark and light laser engraving is possible even with dyed-through paper types. Therefore a colour change from dark to white can be achieved with a very low power output. You can also create a dark haptic engraving by using a higher power output. In the case of paper types with two or more layers, the cover layer is removed and the second colour is then visible.

Below is a summary of techniques for paper processing, including examples of laser parameters.

Techniques for paper finishing

Laser engraved paper sample

How do I find the correct laser parameters for my paper?

There are infinite types of paper and card, so it is important to know the properties of the material used. You can find the parameters for laser processing easily with the help of the  test matrix. This will help you quickly determine different effects of the laser engraving.

Tip: Fine paper types produced with two different-coloured layers can create amazing, contrast-rich engraving results.

How can I avoid burnt edges when laser cutting paper?

When paper laser cutting at high speed the removed material will evaporate as smoke. The smoke transports the heat away from the paper, so the material is only slightly thermally marked. With optimum parameters, Air Assist and Table Exhaust, the material can be processed smoke-free without burnt edges even with the finest contours.

Registration mark settings

Which lens do I use for paper processing?

For paper laser cutting and engraving, we recommend using a 1.5" lens because larger optics are not necessary for the minimal thickness of the paper. The 1.5” lens is also best suited for filigree laser engravings, as fine graphics can be represented in a detailed manner.

Selecting a work table for a laser engraver

The right table for paper processing

You can increase the success of your engraving by selecting the right table. However when you are laser engraving paper, you only need a vacuum table, which provides optimum vacuum if you cover the remaining work surface.

When you are ready to laser cut your paper, we recommend using a comb cutting support, best used in combination with a vacuum table. This helps prevent unattractive cut marks on your vacuum table with the honeycomb cutting support. It also significantly reduces supporting surface of the material and minimises residue on the back side of the material.

Tip: We recommend covering the processing surface completely with a cover material, so that you are working with full vacuum and that the paper remains flat on the table. Printer paper is sufficient for this.

Which resolutions do I use with paper?

The resolution always depends on your application. When you want to process "normal" engraving jobs, use "500dpi resolution" and "Air Assist On". This will combine very good quality with a fast working speed. You can adjust both parameters in Ruby® or JobControl® via the material database.

For photo engravings on paper, we recommend reducing the resolution to 250-333 dpi, as the screen points appear slightly enlarged on paper and would overlap if a higher resolution was used.

If you only want to cut the paper, set the resolution to 1000dpi.

Job Control® in action

Precise laser cutting of printed paper

Cut incredible details from printed material with the Trotec software, Vision Print&Cut. A camera on the working head of the laser reads the printed registration marks. Distortions in the print area are detected and compensated, meaning the material is precisely cut. Production times are accelerated and cost-intensive incorrect cuttings are avoided.

You can find helpful tips for the graphics creation and daily work with the cutting software below.

JobControl® Vision instruction

Creation of pop-up cards

Pop-up cards are enjoying an increased popularity. From invitation cards, calendars and greeting cards - demanding graphics and geometries can be implemented quickly and easily with the laser. Discover how you can create a pop-up card in your graphics program in the a href="below.

Preparation of pop-up cards in the graphics program for laser processing

Further information

Contact the  Trotec service hotline  where our laser experts will assist you with any queries.

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