Laser Engraving: Materials Used for Engraving


The days before laser engraving, the process of engraving was done exclusively on wood, stone, or metal. It wasn’t until laser beam technology that the ability to engrave, etch, cut, or mark other materials became possible. The engraving process also took many, many hours or days of cutting, marking, or engraving. Today, the process is more efficient and faster than it’s ever been. So, what kinds of materials are used for laser engraving today?

Engraving – Past Vs. Present

The industry still engraves and cuts metals, wood, and stone using high-tech laser systems designed for commercial production lines that make it fast to keep up with the demand. In addition to metals, wood, and stone, the laser engraving and cutting industry works on plastics, fabrics, glass, crystal, and leather. The wider range of engraving materials allows for more gifts and personalized memorabilia to be created with new laser technology and software applications. You tell the machine what to do, and it does it.

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DIY Engraving

Even the DIY crafters out there use laser engravers for die-cutting, engraving, etching, and embossing. Many homemade greeting cards you see in craft stores online and offline are made using these table-top laser engraving machines. The industry has made that possible with smaller machines with a range of surface sizes that work with scrapbook paper, craft papers, fabric, foam, felt, and certain metals. These crafters create jewelry, greeting cards, calendars, and several types of crafts for their own use, as gifts, or to make money from home.

Engraving – Decorative Elements

A primary use for laser engraving on wood, stone, and metal (the staple materials in the craft) is for creating ornate beds, cabinetry, firearm stocks, and doors. Nowadays, woodwork and metalwork is also used to create simple to detailed personalized products for keepsakes. Marking and etching on metal is used for labeling products. Stone is the only material used in laser engraving that hasn’t expanded beyond its original purpose, which is ornamental. Stone statues, tombstones, and signs are examples of stone work done by lasers.

Laser Engraving Today

The laser engraving and etching industry has expanded its reach to crystal and glass where many gorgeous glasses, decanters, and glass bowls/containers are made. This is a niche within the laser industry that requires specializes skills to prevent breakage. Using laser technology allows customers to get their glass, mirror, or crystal personalized items done in an afternoon at a one-man specialty engraving shop.

Each material and its traits allow laser engraving machines to create various looks. For instance, engraving on walnut yields a different look than Brazilian rose wood. Even the difference in wood species makes engraving on it unique. The same thing happens with concrete and granite.

Just from this information, you can take away that it is more versatile today than in the past. The versatility of the new commercial and industrial laser engraving industry is due to the technology that allows for adjusting between materials. It allows engravers to work with thin plastic at one setting, then after some adjusting, it can be set to engrave denser materials like heavy plastic, stone, or metal.

These are only a few of the primary uses for laser engraving technology in today’s world. As this technology grows and evolves, the types of materials may go beyond plastics, glass, mirrors, metals, wood, stone, crystal, fabrics, and paper.

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