Leather Laser Engraving: All You Need to Know
Laser engraver and laser engraving business owners figure out ways to engrave leather with their laser machines because the material is itself in great demand.
We frequently use it in a wide range of products. We have hundreds of leather products, such as belts, bags, key chains, diaries, wallets, shoes, jackets, watch straps, and protective gear (PPEs).
So, if the laser engraver can engrave leather, there are more options and varieties of personalized laser engraved leather items and products that users can sell. It adds multiple products to the inventory and gives a boost to the business.
If you wish to have a leather laser engraving machine read this whole post. We have discussed everything you need to know about leather laser engraving.
In This Article
- Can You Laser Engrave a Leather?
- How Does Laser Engraving on Leather Work?
- What Type of Leather is Best for Laser Engraving?
- How to Pick a Laser Engraving Machine for Leather?
- Best Laser Engraving Machine for Leather
Can You Laser Engrave Leather?
Yes, you can laser engrave leather. Many reasons make laser engraving the preferred option to engrave leather.
Advantages of Leather Laser Engraving
Laser engraving offers accurate and perfect cutting and engraving that can’t be achieved through other engraving methods.
The powerful laser module is controlled by computer software, cutting and engraving the material in a flash without even having contact with the leather surface. So you can get cleaner, more visible, and fine results.
On top of that, you have design freedom. With laser engraving, you have the option to create any design or pattern you like. You can customize the leather piece or make customized products with it. Thus, laser engraving leather is possible.
How Does Laser Engraving Leather Work?
Laser engraving on leather works on the basic principle of laser engraving, which is the same for whatever compatible material you engrave.
The high power laser beams increase the temperature of the material in no time. The temperature rises to the vaporization temperature, which is the temperature when the materials start to turn into vapors. Thus, the molecules or particles on the surface start to evaporate.
In laser engraving, the process of sublimation occurs, which is the direct change of the solid state into the gaseous state. Therefore, you only see fumes or gasses while engraving any material.
The same thing happens to leather when it is engraved using a laser engraving machine. The powerful laser beams reach the surface, then the temperature rises sharply.
After engraving, you can see a natural contrast between the engraved area and the non-engraved area. Due to burning or high temperature, the engraved area turns darker, making a visible debossed effect on the surface. Plus, you can feel the chiseling of the material through touch because particles are removed from the surface.
What Type of Leather is Best for Laser Engraving?
The best leather for engraving is the natural leather that is obtained from animals. Most of such leather is excellent for laser engraving. You can use leather made from cowhide, lambskin, deerskin, sheepskin, etc.
You might have heard about the types of leather, full grain leather and top grain leather.
The full-grain leather is the highest quality leather you can find. It contains the natural grain present on the skin. But keep in mind that it is quite thick.
The next option is the top grain leather which is the second-best quality. It is also the hide, but the top layer is sanded off to remove the imperfections.
Then there is corrected grain leather which is altered leather, and the last one is the bonded leather which is made from the leftovers.
All these types of leather can be used for laser engraving. But you need to run the laser power and speed setting test before you start.
Can You Laser Engrave Faux and PU Leather?
Synthetic or artificial leather, such as faux leather and PU leather, can also be laser engraved. But there is a limitation; you cannot laser engrave any leather that contains PVC or vinyl.
PVC produces harmful fumes of hydrochloric acid that is quite dangerous to your health and other people in the area. Moreover, Eel leather should also be avoided as it produces a long-lasting potent smell.
Buying Guide: How to Pick a Leather Laser Engraving Machine?
While buying a laser engraver for leather, you need to consider a few factors. These will help you in choosing the best engraver that can offer you the expected results. There is a detailed comparison between xTool laser machines here.
Type of Laser
The lasers that can engrave leather are CO2, fiber, and UV. Another option for leather laser engraving is the diode laser engraver, but keep in mind that not all diode lasers are suitable for this purpose.
You can use any of these machines for engraving leather, but a CO2 laser is considered the best option, and a diode laser is the most affordable.
UV lasers and fiber lasers are very expensive. Plus, they are suitable for a limited range of materials. For instance, fiber lasers are mostly used for metal engraving, while UV lasers are good for engraving polyethylene and glass.
In contrast, the upfront cost of CO2 lasers is 3 to 4 times less. The DIY compact CO2 lasers are easily available from $3,000 to 5,000.
The diode laser machines are more pocket-friendly. You can get a suitable machine for leather engraving for $800-1500, depending on the features and specifications.
Secondly, CO2 lasers are compatible with a wide range of materials, such as leather, wood, plywood, acrylic, stone, marble, paper, cardboard, glass, metal, rubber, food, and fabric.
Similarly, diode lasers can also engrave wood, glass, acrylic, stone, and some other materials.
Thus, if you want your laser machine to engrave a wide range of materials and fill up inventory with a wide variety of products, a CO2 or diode laser is the best option.
The power of the laser matters a lot. If the power is not enough, you cannot engrave leather, especially the thick/hard ones.
For a CO2 laser machine, the minimum power rating of the laser machine is 40W. But keep in mind that this power rating refers to the optical/output power rating; don’t get confused with machine power and module electric power.
For excellent engraving results, high accuracy is essential. The leather laser engraving machine should be stable and be able to offer optimal accuracy. The movement and repositioning accuracy should be up to the mark that there is no visible error in the engraving.
Smoke Purification System
Laser engraving produces harmful fumes and smells. Therefore, a smoke purifier is mandatory. The machine should have a built-in smoke purification system to ensure the working area is clean and safe for the users.
Some safety features must be in the leather laser engraving machine, such as flame detection and overheating.
As leather can burn due to high power settings, it is necessary to have this safety feature in the machine to prevent accidents.
Best Leather Laser Engraving Machine
xTool M1 (Diode Laser)
xTool M1 is a hybrid laser machine because it contains a diode laser and blade cutter. It is specifically designed to work on a wide range of materials and ensure perfection and accuracy in cutting and engraving results.
The optical power of the machine is 10W, and it is suitable for laser engraving. The laser spot measures 0.08 x 0.08mm, which offers ultrafine engraving. You can engrave on leather objects and customize them according to your needs.
It is an ideal machine for gift-making and personalized products.
The best thing about xTool M1 is the low cost. The price is less than one-fourth of the cost of a CO2 laser. Therefore, it can be a game-changer for people who cannot afford CO2 laser machines. You can run a small business, make gifts, and use it for DIY purposes.
2) Small Camera
The machine has a 16MP built-in smart camera that gives you a real-time preview of the objects. You can easily place the designs by seeing their preview on the software interface. It boosts productivity and mitigates errors.
xTool M1 can focus on the object automatically. All you need to make is one click, and the focus is adjusted to the optimal level. It processes the material and its thickness and adjusts the focus accordingly.
4) Safety Features
There are various safety features in the machine.
First of all, it is an enclosed machine, so it does not allow the smoke or the laser beams to escape. The lid of the machine protects your eyes from the blue laser light.
There is a proper ventilation system that has a fan and an exhaust pipe to remove the dust, smoke, and debris from the machine. You can also use the smoke purifier (sold separately) with the machine to purify the smoke created by leather, acrylic, and other materials.
5) Compatible Accessories
There are multiple accessories available to enhance performance and ensure excellent results. You can use the RA2 Pro with M1 to do rotary laser engraving for cylinders and spheres, such as tumblers and balls. If there is a need to change the height of the engraving area, you can purchase the riser base specifically made for M1.
6) 500+ Materials
Due to the laser and blade head, the machine is capable of engraving and cutting 500+ materials.
You can engrave leather, wood, acrylic, several metals, glass, etc. The blade-cutting tool helps to cut special materials, such as vinyl.
Overall, xTool M1 is an excellent leather laser engraving machine. It is an affordable option, and you can also work on other materials. The best part is that it is beginner-friendly and safe for household use.
xTool Laserbox Rotary (CO2 Laser）
1) Powerful laser
This machine is xTool’s CO2 laser engraving and cutting machine that can be used for engraving leather. The optical/output power of the machine is 40W, which is excellent for cutting leather at an incredible speed. Other than leather, you can engrave wood, acrylic, stone, paper, fabric, glass, metal, rubber, food, etc.
2) High accuracy
The machine offers optimal accuracy for raster as well as vector engraving. It is completely stable due to its closed structure and lid. Its movement and repositioning accuracy are excellent, and there won’t be any tracking or tracing errors.
3) Smart smoke purifiering
There is a built-in smart smoke purifier. It automatically adjusts itself according to the fumes produced during engraving. It purifies the smoke and ensures eco-friendly ventilation, delivering better engraving results for leather.
4) Built-in camera for easier focus
The machine is equipped with a built-in camera. It allows you to see the working area in real time. So you can adjust the position, size, rotation, and other settings of the graphics with accuracy. Most importantly, you can extract the image from any object and then use that image for engraving, which maximizes your creativity.
5) Early-warning system
The safety features of the machine are also commendable. It has an early-warning system that detects issues using its sensors. In the case of overheating, water cooling, and other issues, it sends alert notifications to the user. Moreover, if the machine’s lid is opened, the machine stops immediately.
xTool Laserbox Rotary is an ideal machine for small businesses, DIYers, professionals, and artists. You can engrave a wide range of materials, including leather. You can engrave almost any object, including cylindrical objects using its roller rotary. It is the best piece to turn your imagination into reality and make unique items for customers.
5 Tips for Laser Engraving Leather
If you want to get the best engraving results on leather, you must know a few tips and tricks.
- Pick the right type of leather for engraving. We have already discussed it in detail.
- Do not enter the power and speed settings randomly. It is better to run a power-speed test on a piece of leather and then choose the optimal settings. It prevents the wastage of material and precious time.
- If you want to see deep, dark, and clear results, you need to increase the power setting of the laser. Another way is to decrease the speed.
- The focus of the laser machine is very important. Even if your settings are correct, there is no guarantee of good results if the focus is not correctly adjusted. Make sure you focus on the laser before engraving.
- Clean the leather object after engraving. Remove the debris and particles. You can also polish leather if needed.
For leather laser engraving, a CO2 laser is the best machine you can go for. It offers optimal results and can easily engrave almost any type of leather with its incredible power. If you want an affordable option, you can select a suitable diode laser machine for leather engraving.
Before selecting a laser machine for leather engraving, you need to look at the important factors we have discussed. We have also shared the best CO2 and diode lasers for this purpose. The machines have incredible features that a leather engraver needs. Moreover, they can engrave a wide range of materials, allowing you to work on different products.