In Depth Look - Laser Engraving

March 31, 2016


At Engrave Goods we’ve found laser engraving to be the ideal method to mark leather and have spent nearly ten years experimenting with and perfecting the technique on leather and wood. Laser engraving is a unique marking method that is often overlooked and misunderstood in comparison to more popular printing and embossing techniques, so let’s take a closer look at how the process works and what results can be achieved.


How Laser Engraving Works


In the most basic sense the process of laser engraving is similar to using a magnifying glass to create a point of light from the sun to start a fire. In this case, instead of the sun, the laser engraving machine uses electric current to create a high intensity beam of infrared light. The beam is directed to a moving laser head by a series of mirrors. The laser head contains two important parts (1) a mirror which directs the beam downward toward the surface of the material to be engraved and (2) a focus lens which concentrates the energy of the beam into a very fine point at the surface of the material (in our case a piece of leather or wood). This point of concentrated energy burns and removes material creating an engraved mark. The engraving machine translates photos and graphics that we prepare on the computer into engraved marks on leather and wood.



What Can Be Engraved


We utilize a Trotec Speedy 400 laser engraver with an engraving area of 39” x 24”. There are some limitations on the minimum detail and lineweight sizes (minimum .6pt line weight and 6pt font size) and it’s important to keep in mind that you will lose some contrast when going from digital image to engraving. But within those limits, we’re able laser engrave virtually any high quality image file or vector graphic.    


Greyscale images are engraved by translating the images into a halftone dot pattern where the density of engraved dots creates the look of shading and grey tones. Each individual dot is very small so we’re able to translate a high level of detail into the engraved images. You can see an example of this in the photo below.

 

Laser Engraved Leather Halftone Detail

On the left is an image engraved on a leather Travel Wallet. On the right is a close up of the engraving showing the halftone pattern. 

 

Comparison to Other Marking Techniques

 

Below are pros and cons for three of the most popular marking techniques - laser engraving, printing, and embossing - in regards to marking on leather and wood.  

 

Laser Engraving

Pros and Cons of Laser Engraving on Leather

 

Printing

Pros and Cons of Printing on Leather

 

Embossing/Debossing

Pros and Cons of Embossing on Leather

 

Examples of Laser Engraving


Here are a few examples of laser engraved designs that illustrate the wide variety of creative possibilities - everything from black and white logos to greyscale photos and illustrations. 


Laser Engraved Leather Example - 1
Thin line graphics on an engraved Travel Wallet

 

Laser Engraved Leather Example - 2

Black and white artwork on a Classic Leather Notebook

 

Laser Engraved Leather Example - 3

Full greyscale artwork on a Classic Leather Notebook with matching Minimalist Wallet

 
Check out more examples of work we’ve done for previous clients in our online portfolio here:  www.engravegoods.com/blogs/customer-examples

 

Interested in a more technical explanation of how laser engraving/cutting works? Check out this article: http://www.esabna.com/us/en/education/blog/how-does-laser-cutting-work.cfm

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Have a question about whether your artwork will work for engraving or want to get started on some custom engraved goods of your own? Contact us now at hello@engravegoods.com.  Browse our full product collection at www.engravegoods.com.