The HomeTrotters

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What Materials Can Be Engraved

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Almost any material can be engraved, including metal, plastic, glass, and stone. The type of engraving that is done will depend on the material used. For example, if a metal is being engraved, a laser may be used to create the desired effect. If plastic is being carved, a rotary tool with a cutting bit may be used by The Engraving People. Glass can be either etched or engraved, depending on the desired effect. Stone can also be engraved using a rotary tool or laser.


Plates for trophies, medals, and plaques are made with a coating that reacts to the laser. The most frequent example is black trophy plates that remove the black finish to reveal the metal beneath. CO2 lasers don’t work on metal; as a result, many engraving materials are coated so you can see the mark. Anodized aluminum is an excellent example – it etches beautifully! A black ceramic coating forms on stainless steel items where the laser hits them, and the rest washes off with water for those coated in a substance called Cermark.


A CO2 laser can engrave and chop wood. Each wood species has its own set of characteristics that must be considered while using a laser, and different pieces from the same species will react differently. Some woods lighten when etched, while others darken. Some woods have a faint mark; other woods are very dark on the other hand. Wood is frequently carved leaving a charred edge with an ash residue nearby the incision line. A light sanding or a mask can remove charred and residue while engraving. Cutting with conventional woodworking methods before engraving is more practical for thicker items. For example, I wouldn’t try to cut a cutting board with the laser; however, it will do an excellent job of etching it.

On my laser, I can cut Baltic Birch plywood to approximately 1/4″ thin. I can produce Baltic Birch as thin as 1/64″, which is comparable to thick paper.

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Acrylic plastics are excellent for laser cutting and engraving. The laser causes a flame-polished edge when cutting. It looks fantastic on its own, or with acrylic paints to give it more impact. Acrylic is a common material for laser engraving sheets for plaques and signage. The inscription on acrylic signage glows when illuminated with LED lights. I offer acrylic in a variety of thicknesses, as well as glow-in-the-dark and fluorescent colours.


LASERS CAN EMBELLISH GLASS, HOWEVER, THE HIGHEST QUALITY RESULTS ARE DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN. SOMETIMES THE CHEAPER GLASS IS EMBELLISHED THAN THE MORE EXPENSIVE TYPE. For example, I wouldn’t advise applying a laser to an optical crystal glass award. For a high-quality outcome on glass or crystal, I like to sand carve the item instead of laser cutting it.

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A laser can print on a variety of rubbers and cut thinner sheets. I use a low-odour laserable sheet rubber to make rubber stamps that are inscribed first before being cut down. You may also carve a hockey puck, but as of yet, I have not discovered one with a low odour.


LASERS CAN CUT PAPER EXTREMELY WELL. A laser’s precision and cutting power make it ideal for paper-cutting projects. With the proper card stock, a laser may produce intricate designs for wedding invites or cutouts for scrapbooking.


If the leather object is flat, it may be laser engraved. The leather is removed in one layer with a laser, revealing the raw leather. The colour and contrast of the leather depend on its kind, condition, and treatment.

Things that shouldn’t be laser-etched

This is another reason why you should not use a laser to cut any type of plastic, including PVC or vinyl, polycarbonate, and even ABS. The heat from the laser causes poisonous gasses to be released from the material. What’s bad for people is damaging to equipment.