Tips & Tricks for processing paper with your laser

Trotec lasers are the ideal machines to use when processing substrates like paper and cardboard. By using our machines, it allows you to refine applications such as greeting cards, book covers, table decorations or packaging with a noticeable engraving or filigree pattern by laser cutting. In this article, we'll show you some useful tips to keep in mind when laser cutting and laser engraving paper.

Will the laser engraving on paper always become dark?

Varying factors determine the engraving results. A very low power output can create a colour change from dark to white, even with dyed-through types of paper. A dark haptic engraving can be created 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 color becomes visible.

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

Techniques for paper finishing

laser engraving on paper

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

The different types of paper and cardboard are many and varied.  It is, therefore,  important to know the properties of the material being used. The test matrix will help you determine different effects of laser engravings quickly and efficiently and will provide the parameters for laser processing.

Tip: Fine paper types produced with two different-colored layers can create amazing, contrast-rich engravings.

How can I avoid burnt edges when laser cutting paper?

High speed laser cutting removes excess paper in the form of smoke, taking the heat away from the paper so that the burning effects on the material are minimal.  By using optimum parameters, Air Assist as well as Table Exhaust, the finest contours can be effected on the material, smoke-free  and without burnt edges.

laser cut paper focus

Which lens do I use for paper processing?

We recommend using a 1.5" lens for processing paper. Larger optics are not necessary for the minimal thickness of the paper.  The 1.5” lens is also is ideal for filigree laser engravings, as the fine detail in the graphics will be well displayed.

setup for laser cutting paper

The correct table selection for paper

The success of your engraving can be enhanced by selecting the right table. However when laser engraving paper, you only need a vacuum table, which provides optimum vacuum if you cover the remaining working surface.

We recommend using a comb cutting support when laser cutting paper. This is best used in combination with a vacuum table as it will help prevent unattractive cut marks on your vacuum table. It also significantly reduces the need to support the surface of the material and it minimizes residue on the back side of the material.

Tip: Cover the processing surface completely with cover material, so that you work with full vacuum and the paper adheres well on the table. Normal printer paper is adequate for this.

Which resolutions do I use with paper?

Your application will always determine the resolution. For "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.

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

To only cut the paper, set the resolution to 1000dpi.

Precise laser cutting of printed paper types

With the Trotec software, Vision Print&Cut amazing details can be cut from printed material. The printed registration marks are read by a camera on the working head of the laser, which detects and distortions and compensates for them. The result is a  material which is cut precisely and accurately, whilst accelerating production time, and avoiding cost-intensive incorrect cuttings.

Below are helpful tips for graphics creation and daily work with the cutting software.

JobControl® Vision instruction

Creation of pop-up cards

Pop-up cards for all occasions are becoming very popular. Demanding graphics and geometries can be implemented quickly and easily with the laser. Whether you are wanting to create an invitation, card for a special occasion, or calendar, you can read here how to create a pop-up card in your graphics program

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

Further information

Need more help?

Contact the  Trotec service hotline where top qualified and motivated laser experts will assist you with any questions or problems.

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