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Laser Engraving and Cutting

A guide to PPLD's laser engravers/cutters

Working with Paper & Fabrics

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Paper, fabrics, and other lightweight materials can be cut (and many can be engraved). While extra care is needed for working with these materials, you can get very detailed designs and sharp, clean cuts.

Important Safety Information

Ultra-light materials such as paper and fabrics have a higher than usual fire risk because of their flammability rating. Additional safety considerations include:

  • You must watch the machine at all times when cutting or engraving these materials.
  • Cutting through large stacks of paper is not possible or permitted - no more than 2-3 sheets of paper at a time is feasible.
  • Thin paper generally does not engrave, and attempting to do so will often cause the paper to disintegrate.
  • After each job, the bed needs to be completely cleared out as any leftover material is likely to be re-cut if left in the bed during the next job.

Tips on Cutting Paper

  • In addition to reducing the risk of fire, cutting paper at the fastest speed possible will limit the amount of scorching on the sides of the paper.
  • The heavier weight paper will require higher power to cut properly, so trial and error may be required to find the best settings.
  • The air assist should not be used when cutting paper as it will cause the paper to move.

Tips on Engraving Fabric

  • Unevenness in the material can cause an engraving to fail or turn out poorly. Because fabric is engraved at a very low power, it is more sensitive to unevenness than other materials. Even small folds or wrinkles can result in an engraving not working properly. If at all possible, the material should be ironed and then wrapped tightly around a board.
  • Color changes can vary greatly among different types of fabric. Many types of fabric - such as cotton and denim - will lighten when engraved. Other types - such as fleece - will darken. Some fabrics - such as felt - will not change colors while engraving, however part of the material will still be removed, giving the design depth.
  • Machine-washable fabric may need to be hand-washed after engraving. This is because engraving removes the top part of the material, weakening it. It is best to test spare pieces of material.

Tips on Cutting Fabric

  • While unevenness in the fabric is less of a concern when cutting than it is when engraving, the material should still be as flat as possible.
  • Because the laser is cutting with heat, the side of the fabric will be cauterized, making the fabric less likely to fray.
  • Fabrics should be cut at the fastest speed possible to limit the amount of scorching and melting of the sides.