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Laser Engraving and Cutting

A guide to PPLD's laser engravers/cutters

Photo Engraving Examples

General Information

In addition to cutting and engraving simple vectorized shapes and images, lasers can engrave realistic photographic images. This process takes a lot of trial and error through photo editing software and laser settings. The best way to get a successful print is by testing -- updating your photo in multiple ways through GIMP or another editing software (Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator also offer basic editing tools), and testing the photo with the laser on different types of wood and with different settings. 

Some tips that may help to start: 

  • Different woods produce different results -- this includes different pieces of the same type of wood, since every individual tree has different levels of sap (which can produce a lighter or darker etch). For more information on types of wood that work best with photo engraving, see the Useful Links box below. 
  • Lowering the power on the laser settings to 10 - 30% can produce a brighter image that won't get lost in shadows.
  • Changing the DPI (dots per inch) or Dithering type in the laser settings can produce drastically different results. Test with different settings to see which works best -- this means you should come with extra wood and be prepared to have a lot of test runs that don't look quite right. 
  • If you test the photo at a smaller size than the final project (to save test wood), the results may look very different than the full-sized image, even with the same settings.