How to laser engrave

Discover how laser engraving works and which materials can be engraved with a laser.

Simply put, laser engraving is used to customise products and materials.  A golf trophy can be laser engraved with the name of a winner, company logos can be engraved on various substrates such as pens and rulers, or a laser marking insdustrial and medical products with serial number or batch numbers - all of these examples are typical applications for laser engraving. The advantage of laser engraving is that virtually any design can be engraved on various materials. We will explain how laser engraving works throughout this article.

Laser engraving explained

Once the process of laser engraving begins, the laser beam impinges on the substrate or material used, exposing the material to high heat. Depending on the period of exposure, the color component changes and creates a contrast, or the material evaporates or burns, resulting in permanent and highly resistant to abrasion.

Laser engraving is as simple 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.

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How does laser engraving work? Here's a simple explanation of the basics

Learn more about the process of laser engraving in this video

How does Raster and vector engraving differ?

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 engraving method.
However, if only thin lines are to be engraved, vector engraving becomes advantageous and can also be the faster method.

What is the advantage of laser engraving compared to mechanical engraving?

Larger field of application The laser beam is a universal tool for many materials such as wood, acrylics, MDF, textiles, cardboard, laser paper, foil, metals, and much more.
Contactless processing of material 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.
Highest precision and fine detail achievable Laser technology allows the implementation of the finest motifs with maximum precision. Almost everything that can be drawn can be engraved and marked using a laser.
Efficient production The production of individual pieces or small series, as well as large series, is economically-effective and feasible.

Special application: Engrave photos with the laser

Pictures add a very unique and custom touch to a normal product or gift. Photo engraving can be done quickly and easily using the laser engraver. The JobControl® laser software from Trotec supports users extensively throughout the implementation of photo engraving. With the integrated photo mode, the image is automatically optimised for processing with the laser engraving machine, in accordance with a complex logic, and sent to the laser. This implies that you need not be an expert in photo processing. Photo engraving is made simple - discover tips and tricks 

Laser engraving machine for photo engraving and much more

Trotec product recommendation for laser engraving:

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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:

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