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 if the right laser parameters are used. The following settings form the laser parameters:
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Resolution ppi/Frequency Hz
  • Passes
  • Air Assist
  • z-Offset (controlled defocusing)

Laser parameters in the Trotec JobControl® laser software

Material database
JobControl® laser software contains a wide selection of pre-tested laser parameters, allowing you to save time testing for optimum parameters by choosing from the 50 selected materials. For each product group, we offer 2 different sets of parameters: one optimised for time and one optimised for quality. "Quality" parameter sets are recommended for laser engraving applications containing fine details, small font sizes and high contrast. This also optimises the laser cut, for example allowing you to achieve a glossy, flame-polished edge on acrylic.
"Speed" parameter sets are recommended for time-spefic applications with simple shapes and designs featuring fewer finer lines and details. We constantly test and add new material parameters to the material database. You can install the update either by a JobControl® Software Release or downloaded online.
You can also add your own materials and settings to the material database.

JobControl® laser software

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

All laser parameters in the material database have been carefully determined. Depending on your application, small adjustments to the parameters may be required to achieve a visually different result. Increasing the power value introduces more energy onto the material, leading to a darker engraving in wood. The engraving will also be deeper. Reducing the power results in a lighter engraving. We recommend making adjustments in small increments to find your ideal parameters.

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

Tip: Only change a single parameter when testing. As an example, start with the power by testing different values in 5-10% increments. Then repeat the process with the speed. You should only combine both settings when you are satisfied with them. This allows you to isolate the variables and determine how individual parameters affect your achieved results.

My material isn't in the material database. Is there an easy way to determine the best laser parameters?

Generally start with a high speed and low power when laser engraving or cutting new materials. This ensures a low laser impact on the material.
 Here are 3 ways to quickly and easily determine the parameters for new materials.
Laser engraving multiple pens with a template

Engraving template: black rectangle

In order to find the best possible engraving parameters for an unknown material, draw a black contourless rectangle in CorelDraw®. The size of the material should be taken into consideration when drawing the rectangle, but we recommend 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 the job starts, the bi-directional communication between the laser and JobControl® laser software allows you to change the parameters during the laser engraving process. If your result is not visible with a low power, you can adjust the power or speed directly in JobControl®. We recommend doubling the power level as a first step. Depending on the result, increase or reduce the power level until you find your preferred settings.


Engraving template: Grayscale matrix

Choosing different paramter settings means different color intensities can be achieved on the material when laser processing. You can quickly and easily determine your desired colour intensity with the aid of the grayscale matrix.

Laser cutting template

Cutting template

The following graphic is a good example for testing cutting parameters. As the rectangle has two differently rounded corners it offers the advantage that both straight cutting lines and more complex shapes can be achieved with the tested settings. Send your graphic to the laser. Start again but with lower power and a higher speed (we recommend a start speed of 5-10%) which allows you to find your desired laser cutting quality.

Please note: Cutting and engraving speeds are not comparable. As cutting is slower than engraving, 10% is a high speed for cutting.

What do laser parameters actually mean?

Laser parameters, including power, speed, ppi, Hz, passes, Air Assist and z-offset are briefly explained in the following article.

Parameter definition

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