How does laser engraving work?

Here, we will show you how laser engraving works and which materials you can and can't engrave with a laser.

Laser engraving is used to give products an individual design or a personal touch. A sports trophy engraved with the name of the winner, ballpoint pens engraved with the company logo or a component that is marked with serial number and batch number - these are typical applications for laser engraving. The big advantage: With a laser, you can engrave virtually any design on different materials. On this page we explain how laser engraving works.

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Laser engraving technically explained.

During the process of laser engraving, the laser beam impinges on the material, exposing it to a great deal of heat. Depending on the exposure time, the color changes and creates a contrast, or the material evaporates or burns. The resulting laser engraving is permanent and very resistant to abrasion.


Laser engraving - as easy as printing.

Laser engraving is as simple as printing. First, create the layout of the engraving in your usual graphics program (CorelDraw, Photoshop, AutoCAD, Illustrator, InkScape, etc.). Then use the printer driver to send the graphic to the laser. At the push of a button, your selected material is laser engraved or laser cut with the stored settings. If required, advanced settings can be set in the provided JobControl® laser software. Process types stored in the printer driver make everyday work much easier by automatically optimizing graphically required processes.

Learn more about Speedy laser engraving machines

Raster and vector engraving: Two different types of laser engraving

Raster engraving is the standard process for laser engraving. Here, the graphic built from pixels is engraved line by line, point by point.

In vector engraving, on the other hand, the graphic consists of curves and lines that are traced one after the other “vector by vector” by the laser and engraved at the same time. Vector engraving is often referred to as “scoring."

For large-area applications such as filled letters, images, stamps or wood engraving, raster engraving is the appropriate method.
However, if only thin lines are to be engraved, vector engraving is advantageous and may also be faster.

Typical applications for laser engraving.

Advantages of laser engraving compared to mechanical engraving

Larger field of application The laser beam is a universal tool for many materials such as wood, glass, MDF, textiles, cardboard, paper, foil, metals, and much more.
Non-contact material processing In mechanical engraving, the material often has to be clamped or fixed with vacuum. This takes time and can damage the material. With laser processing, this is not necessary. Here, the processing is contactless so that no chips are produced and, comparatively, very little dust. All this saves time and money.
No tool wear Due to the non-contact material processing of the laser, there are no tool costs for cutters and drills.
Maximum precision and finest details The laser technology makes it possible to implement the finest motifs with maximum precision. Virtually everything that can be drawn can be engraved and marked using a laser.
Economic production The production of individual pieces or small series, as well as large series, is cost-effective and economically feasible.

Special application: Engrave photos with the laser.

Photos add a very special touch to a standard product or a gift. Photo engraving can be done quickly and easily using the laser. The JobControl® laser software from Trotec supports you extensively in the implementation of your photo engraving. With the integrated photo mode, the image is automatically optimized for processing with the laser engraving machine, in accordance with a complex logic, and sent to the laser. So you don't need to be an expert in photo processing. Photo engraving made simple - here you will get tips and tricks for this.

Laser engraving machine for photo engraving and much more

Other laser applications: Marking and cutting

Trotec laser machines are not only suitable for engraving, but also for marking and cutting.
Learn more about processing methods:

This is how laser cutting works.

This is how laser marking works.

Because individual requirements require individual advice.
We’ll advise you free of charge.

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