For centuries, leather has been one of the favourite materials for making fashionable and utility items. It is highly valued for its natural appeal leather is a very popular material to laser engrave and cut for a variety of reasons. Leather sheets and leather products are affordable, durable, and have a high perceived value, especially when they are personalised. In addition to making products, the other reason why leather is chosen is its strength, as its fibres are tough and create some of the most durable goods. Combining laser technology and this versatile material can produce many creative applications and opportunities, from promotional products to accessories, luxury goods and products. If you are not familiar with leather engraving, it is the process of engraving into the leather surface to create permanent marks, to customize this timeless material, leather is usually engraved with letters or designs for personalisation, decoration or branding.
The results from engraving depend on the kind of leather we are working with, and how the laser beam reacts with it, some types of leather have a higher fat content and therefore react differently with the heat applied by the laser.
There are four main types of leather:
- Full-grain leather – highest quality
- Top grain leather – second highest quality
- Corrected grain (bottom/cut split leather) – also known as “genuine leather”
- Bonded leather – lowest quality, made up of leftovers of the hide
There many options under the four primary types of leather including pigmented leather, vegetable tanned leather, antique-grain and many more. Suede is another type of soft leather, and while not as durable as the types mentioned above, it can also be laser engraved and cut.
Laser engraving Leather
The process of engraving leather results in a clean crisp finish and depending on the surface and colour of the leather, produces a noticeable contrast. Light-coloured leathers produce significant colour contrast, whereas engraving darker leathers results in a more subtle contrast. If you need a dynamic colour contrast a tan, beige, or light brown leather is recommended.
The engraving results are mostly dependent on the type of leather used as well as the laser speed, power, and frequency settings. As with any material, it is recommend testing different parameters until we achieve your desired finish.
Laser cutting Leather
We can cut through leather and produce a clean cut edge, as the laser beam cuts the surface compressed air is blown over the cut to remove debris. The best process for cutting leather is to use laser technology, as it has the advantage over handheld rotary tools due to the precision results and speed at which they work. There are several benefits using a laser to cut leather, first, the laser provides sealed cuts that will not fray or otherwise deteriorate. Secondly, unlike manual leather cutting tools such as utility knives and rotary cutters, cutting leather with a laser is incredibly fast, precise, and perhaps most importantly, consistent. Additionally, cutting with the laser eliminates warping which can sometimes happen with hand tools. When using the laser to cut leather, there is no contact with the surface, which means there are no blades which could damage the surrounding area. Also no additional production time wasted clamping down leather for processing as with using tools.
Hand engraving, motorized engraving, and laser engraving.
Tools can be used for engraving leather such as handheld rotary tools but laser engraving is exponentially faster, hand engraving utilizes manual tools such as a burin, graver, and a swivel knife that cuts into the leather manually. You can also use stamps with sharp edges designed to cut into the leather rather than merely pressing it down to make an impression, as with round-edged embossing stamps. Because leather is soft compared to wood, metal, and glass, you do not need super powerful tools with a high RPM. This technique utilizes burr bits rotating at high speed to forge the leather surface.
What is the best process for engraving leather?
Laser engraving is the most efficient technique for engraving leather. A laser engraving machine utilizes a beam of light to mark the leather rather than cut it into it, to make the most precise marks. This accuracy is perfect for intricate detailing compared to hand engraving, the accuracy of the results, particularly with intricate designs is on another level. Plus, you can make multiple items quickly when repeating the same design you can even engrave images.