Laser technology and textiles are a fabulous combination. The targeted use of the laser gives textiles a high-quality finish. But patterns can also be very easily realized. Find out what to consider when laser processing natural textiles and synthetic textiles.
In principle, natural textiles are very good for laser engraving and laser cutting. In order to achieve a color change on textiles with laser engraving, the basic color of the material is decisive for the processing:
Examples of suitable materials:
Laser engraving dark natural textiles
Dark denim or cotton fabrics can be easily “bleached” by laser engraving. It is important to use a low laser power (up to approx. 20% at 100 watts) and to engrave without Z offset depending on the material.
CAUTION: If you use too much laser power or the resolution is too high, the fabric may tear or the fibers may dissolve, immediately or after the first wash at the latest. Depending on the graphic, a resolution of 250 to 500dpi is suitable.
Laser engraving light natural textiles
In order to achieve a dark laser engraving on light textiles, deliberate defocusing is required, i.e. a Z offset of approx. 2 to 20 mm is used depending on the material. The further the lens is from the material, the larger the laser spot.
Laser cutting natural textiles
Use a frequency of 1000 to 3000 Hz for cutting. To avoid dark edges, we recommend switching on Air Assist during the cutting process and using the nozzle with the smallest diameter.
Synthetic fabrics respond very well to laser processing. They often comprise plastics such as polyester. The laser beam melts plastics in a controlled manner, and this provides fiber-free, sealed edges during laser cutting without fraying. With laser engraving, more tangible haptic effects can be achieved. This makes it easy to enrich end products or engrave different patterns in fabrics.
Examples of suitable materials:
- Synthetic leather
- Synthetic felt
- Carpet materials
- Various fleece fabrics
Laser engraving synthetic textiles
Some fabrics such as synthetic leather, fleece or synthetic felt are very easy to engrave. Given that the synthetic material melts during this process, good contrasts are possible. To achieve a homogeneous engraving, use a Z offset of 1 to 5 mm, depending on the fabric. Use a resolution of up to 500 dpi for the engraving.
Some textiles are not suitable for engraving e.g. thin synthetic fiber materials, as they melt during the process. You can quickly and easily test whether your fabric allows homogeneous engraving using the grayscale matrix.
Laser cutting synthetic textiles
Synthetic fabrics are excellent for laser cutting. Due to the plastic content, the individual fibers merge and are sealed. This saves time during subsequent processing because hemming is unnecessary and fraying is prevented.
In order to cut the material cleanly, i.e. clean edges without smoke residue, it is important that the synthetic textiles are not cut with too high power in combination with low speed. When laser cutting synthetic fabrics, we recommend a frequency between 1000 Hz and 3000 Hz.
CAUTION: Synthetic materials - especially synthetic leather - often contain PVC. These are not suitable for laser engraving or laser cutting. When processing these materials, hazardous gases or dust may be generated, which endanger the laser user or the functioning of the laser machine. Here you will find an overview of unsuitable materials for laser processing.
Determination of the cutting parameters
Textiles are made of natural fibers or chemical fibers and are therefore very diverse in composition. In order to be able to orientate yourself when determining the parameters, it is important to differentiate between the Speedy Laser Engraver series and the SP Laser Cutter series. The parameters depend on the chosen platform and configuration.
For large geometries with a large proportion of straight lines, generally, the stronger the laser power the faster the material can be cut. With Speedy lasers, speeds up to approx. 15% are possible. For precise cutting edges with small geometries, a reduction in speed and laser power may be required for your Speedy laser. With a Speedy, a maximum cutting speed of 3% can be used as a guide for a pattern like the one shown in the photo.
With an SP Laser Cutter, the integrated hardware and software support you even more when determining the parameters. You can determine the parameters with optimized speed for a straight geometry. Depending on the laser power, speeds up to 100% are possible because the system automatically adjusts the actual values to the contour and thus achieves perfect cutting results.
Determination of the engraving parameters
With the grayscale matrix you can quickly and easily determine the desired engraving parameters for yourself.
TIP: The more you defocus (Z offset: approx. 0.5 - 20 mm), the darker the engraving of the textile will be. Defocusing the laser beam increases the laser spot size, decreases the power density and burns more material instead of letting it pass directly into the gaseous form.
LaserFlex is a high-quality, multi-layered film that has been specifically designed for laser processing. Enrich textiles with designs of your choice, logos, and lettering with a screen-like finish. Optimal laser settings vary depending on the laser power and the speed of your laser plotter. We recommend processing from the bottom up while using the highest possible exhaust power setting. This way, any dust produced is no longer drawn across the area that has already been laser-processed.