Laser engrave productively with the relief mode

Relief mode is a processing technique in which the gray value of a graphic determines what laser power will be required. Therefore, operating multiple power levels during one operation is possible, saving processing time as well as increasing productivity. Throughout this guide we will review how it works.

Process type: Relief mode vs. Standard

Standard mode

In standard mode, you can select your own power settings and alter them in the parameter database using variations of RGB colors. The laser machine can process multiple engraving colors one after the other.

laser engraving relief mode

Relief mode

Using the relief mode, you can process several engraving colors as well as variations in power levels all in one operation. The gray value of a graphic determines the laser power, so for example, white is processed without power, light areas at low power, dark areas at higher power and black at full power. This requires an 8-bit grayscale graphic (256 grayscale values). During printing, color images are converted automatically to grayscale images, greatly reducing processing time in comparison to standard mode.

laser parameters for laser software

How much time is saved?

Our laser engraved camouflage pattern illustrates how effective this method can be. We processed this 5.9” x 5.9” graphic using our Speedy 300, 60W CO2 laser system in just under 38 mins using standard mode, with multiple RGB engraving parameters (diagram A). 

Processing the same application but now using Relief mode, we achieved the exact same engraving result in 13:47 with the same speed settings (diagram B), and we were able to cut processing time by nearly 2/3.

Even by processing two different laser engraving settings together, you can increase productivity by 50%!

Speedy lasers: The fastest flatbed laser engravers on the market

rgb gray graphics design

How can I find out if my materials will allow multiple engraving effects?

The most accurate method to determine if a material allows engraving with multiple colors is to determine the parameters using a grayscale matrix. Once the matrix is engraved, select the desired effects (we chose boxes 22, 30 and 50).

Tip: Allow the grayscale matrix to run the same width as the subsequent graphic. Even slight variances in acceleration distance will result in noticeable differences in sensitive materials.

Learn more about Trotec engraving materials.

trotec relief engraving

How should a graphic be prepared?

When processing multiple engraving effects under one operation, editing the graphic is an important and essential step. Typically, a color from the RGB color palette would be assigned for each individual engraving (see diagram A). Using our method, assign the grayscale values previously used from the grayscale matrix instead of the RGB color values. For example, the three different colors would be 22% gray, 30% gray and 50% gray instead.

standard relief mode laser software

What is the proper way to send the graphic to my Trotec laser?

The “Relief” process type is a prerequisite for your Trotec laser to engrave the grayscale properly. To send the graphic, use the exact settings that were used when sending the grayscale matrix and make sure to update the size of the final graphic. The power output of the laser machine is based on the grayscale values, so in our example, a grayscale value of 22% will be output.

More information on sending graphics to your laser.

relief mode with multiple colored laser engraving

Which settings should be set in the parameter database?

In the parameter database, utilize the exact parameters as in the grayscale matrix. No additional adjustment is required to the power, as we control this through the grayscale values in the graphic.

jobcontrol print settings for relief mode

When can this method be used?

The Relief method is best suited if you are interested in processing multiple engraving parameters under one job, and the mandatory requirement is that the same z-Offset value is used for all engraving parameters.  

This time-saving processing method can be used with all Trotec laser machines.

Further information

Need more help?

Contact the Trotec service hotline where our highly qualified and motivated laser experts can assist you with any questions or problems.

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