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 can only be achieved with the right laser parameters. Laser parameters are a combination of the following settings:

  • Power
  • Speed
  • Resolution ppi/Frequency Hz
  • Passes
  • Air Assist
  • z-Offset (controlled defocusing)

Laser parameters in the Trotec JobControl® laser software

You will find a wide selection of pre-tested laser parameters in the Trotec JobControl® laser software. Save time testing for optimum parameters by choosing from 50 different materials. For each product group, we offer 2 different parameter sets: optimized for time, and optimized for quality.

"Quality" parameter sets are recommended for engraving applications with fine details, small font sizes and high contrast. Thus, the laser cut is also optimized e.g. glossy, flame-polished edges with acrylic.
"Speed" parameter sets are recommended for time-optimized applications that include simple shapes and designs with fewer finer lines and details.

We are constantly testing and adding new material parameters to the material database. Updates can either be installed via a JobControl® Software Release or downloaded here.
You can, of course, add to the material database with your materials and settings.


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 the individual application, small adjustments to the parameters in the material database may be required in order to achieve visually different results. For example, if you increase the power value, more energy is introduced into the material, which leads to a darker engraving in wood. The engraving is thus also deeper. The reverse is also true -- reducing the power results in a lighter engraving. To find the perfect parameters for your application, we recommend making adjustments in small increments.

You can, of course, also create and manage the self-determined parameters in the material database.

Tip:

Always change only one parameter in a test process. For example, start with the power by testing different values in 5-10% increments. Then repeat the same process with the speed. Only then should you combine both parameter settings. This will allow you to isolate variables and determine how individual parameters affect results.


My material is not in the material database. What is the easiest way to determine laser parameters?

Generally, you start with high speeds and low power when engraving and cutting new materials. This ensures a low laser impact on the material.
 Below are 3 ways to quickly and easily determine your laser parameters of new materials.

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 field depends on the size of the material; 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 you start the job, the bi-directional communication between the laser and the JobControl laser software allows you to change the parameters during the engraving process. If no result is visible at low power, you can adjust the power or speed directly in JobControl. We recommend doubling the power level as a first step. Depending on how the result looks, increase or reduce the power level to until you find the best settings for you.

Engraving template: Grayscale matrix

With laser processing, different color intensities can be achieved on the material by means of various parameter settings. You can quickly and easily determine the desired color intensity by using the grayscale matrix.

Cutting template

The following graphic is a good reference for testing cutting parameters. The rectangle with two differently rounded corners offers the advantage that both straight cutting lines and more complex shapes are possible with the tested settings. Send the graphic to the laser. Start again with lower power and a higher speed (we recommend a start speed of 5-10%) and find your desired cutting quality.

Note that cutting and engraving speeds are not comparable. Basically, cutting is slower than engraving. A "high" cutting speed means 10%.


What do the laser parameters actually mean?

Laser parameters such as power, speed, ppi, Hz, passes, Air Assist and z-offset - we have briefly explained the most important parameters for you:

Parameter definition