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Leather Laser Engraving: All You Need to Know

by Winnie Li Updated on March 09, 2024
laser engraved leather items

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 hat patches.

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 engrave leather, read this whole post. We have discussed everything you need to know about laser engraving leather. 

In This Article

  • Can You Laser Engrave Leather?
  • How Does Laser Engraving Leather Work?
  • Best Leather Laser Engraver
  • Factors to Consider When Choosing a Leather Laser Engraving Machine
  • What Type of Leather is Best for Laser Engraving? 
  • Tips for Laser Engraving Leather
  • FAQs on Laser Engraving Leather
  • Conclusion

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 machines offer accurate and perfect 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. 

laser engraved leather bag with clean and visible design

On top of that, you have design freedom. With laser engraving, you have the option to create any design or pattern you like,  from simple text and logos to complex images and shapes, opening up a world of possibilities for leather engraving.

leather engraving machine

Laser Engraving Leather with xTool S1

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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.  At its core, it involves focusing a high-powered laser beam onto the leather surface. This laser is finely controlled to deliver intense heat in specific patterns, dictated by the design being engraved.

The high power laser beams increase the surface temperature to the point where the leather material starts vaporizing. The accuracy of the laser ensures that this occurs only where engraving is intended, leaving the surrounding areas untouched.

As a result, you can see a natural contrast between the engraved area and the non-engraved area. Due to burning or the 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.

The end product is a piece of leather with a permanent, intricately detailed design that is both visually striking and texturally unique.

Best Leather Laser Engraver

xTool S1: Best Diode Laser Engraver for Leather

leather engraving machine (xtool s1)

xTool S1 is currently the most powerful enclosed diode laser in the world. Its top variant comes with a 40W laser diode, that is capable of engraving and cutting 300+ materials including leather. This power level is sufficient for both simple and deep surface engraving

In addition to the 40W power module, the xTool S1 is available in two other variants: 20W and 10W. Both models perform equally well on leather and are designed for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts. The 40W and 20W modules engrave at a speed of 600mm/s, while the 10W module engraves at 400mm/s.

For leather crafters, there is exciting news: the S1 also supports curved surface engraving, thanks to its 3D Curve Technology. The machine intelligently creates a 3D map of the object and dynamically adjusts the focus to engrave on uneven surfaces, making it an excellent option for leather bags, wallets, or other unevenly surfaced objects.

Internally, the machine offers ample space, exceeding the dimensions of most standard diodes on the market. The machine bed, slightly larger than an A3 sheet at 498×319mm, accommodates a variety of leather crafts without issue. The workspace can also be expanded in both dimensions through an automated passthrough slot and a riser base. The riser elevates the machine to handle tall objects up to 133.5mm, while the passthrough accommodates objects up to 3000mm long.

The S1’s positioning system is technologically advanced and surpasses typical camera positioning systems with its intelligent pin-point positioning system. This feature allows users to mark laser points on the object and sketch the layout in real-time on the software.

Safety features are a cornerstone of the S1 design. As a class 1 laser product, it includes top-tier safety protections such as a 360-degree flame detection sensor, a transparent laser-filtering top cover, a lid-open safety stop feature, and an emergency stop button. Additionally, it comes with an efficient smoke evacuation system.

Several additional attachments and add-ons are available to enhance the machine's capabilities further. These include the RA2 Pro rotary attachment, which facilitates work on cylindrical objects, an air assist to improve cutting quality and ensure a cleaner finish, a smoke purifier to maintain air quality, and a riser base to accommodate taller objects.

xTool P2: Best CO2 Laser Engraver for Leather

If you need a more powerful alternative to a diode laser, consider the CO2 laser. The xTool P2 is rated as the top CO2 laser engraver by leading review sites including CNET, MUO, and Tom's Hardware, among others. It features a powerful 55W CO2 laser module capable of engraving at an impressive speed of 600mm/s. 

leather laser engraver (xtool p2)

Like the S1, the P2 can engrave both cylindrical and curved leather crafts, utilizing the same 3D curve technology that dynamically adjusts focus to accommodate different contours.

The internal workspace of the P2 measures 600×305mm; it’s significantly larger than its competitors in the same category. The machine can be further expanded to accommodate taller and longer objects with an external riser base and an automated passthrough slot.

P2 boasts a dual 16MP camera system—one for panoramic workspace views and the other for auto-focusing on objects. This system enables efficient mapping of designs onto leather and batch engraving on multiple items, such as leather patches. Additionally, P2 features LIDAR technology for precise measurements within 0.001 inches.

batch laser engraving leather patches

In such a powerful machine, safety is paramount. The P2 comes fully enclosed to contain both the laser and exhaust fumes. There is no need for extra goggles, as the top lid is laser-filtering. It comes with the world’s first fire safety kit capable of detecting and extinguishing fires within seconds.

Like other xTool machines, the P2 is compatible with multiple add-ons to maximize its potential. Noteworthy accessories include an automatic conveyor feeder for longer sheets, a rotary attachment, a riser base, xTool smoke purifier, and a honeycomb panel. Air assist is built-in.

Factors to Consider When Choosing 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.

laser engraved leather wallets

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 a CO2 laser engraver is 3 to 4 times less. The DIY compact CO2 lasers are easily available from $3,000 to 5,000. 

laser engraver for leather

CO2 Laser Engraving Machine for Leather

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The diode laser engravers are more pocket-friendly. You can get a suitable machine for leather engraving for $800-1500, depending on the features and specifications.

leather engraving machine

Diode Laser Engraving Machine for Leather

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Secondly, CO2 lasers are compatible with a wide range of materials, such as leather, wood, acrylic, stone, marble, paper, cardboard, glass, coated 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 engraver is the best option.

Laser Power

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 engraver, you should get one with 40w at least. But keep in mind that this power rating refers to the optical/output power; don’t get confused with machine power and module electric power.

High Accuracy

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 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 smoke purification system to ensure the working area is clean and safe for the users.

Safety Features

Some safety features must be in the leather laser engraving machine, such as flame and overheating detection.

As leather can burn due to high power settings, it is necessary to have this safety feature in the machine to prevent accidents.

What Type of Leather is Best for Laser Engraving? 

The best leather for laser 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.

laser engraved leather journal

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 settings 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.

any leather containing vinyl is not suitable for laser engraving

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.

Tips for Laser Engraving Leather

If you want to get the best laser engraving results on leather, you must know a few tips and tricks.

  • Pick the right type of leather for laser 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 scrap 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 the focus is correctly calibrated before engraving.
  • Clean the leather object after engraving. Remove the debris and particles. You can also polish leather if needed.

FAQs on Laser Engraving Leather

What are the Settings for Laser Engraving Leather?

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer for laser engraving leather settings. The ideal settings depend on the laser type and power, the leather type and thickness, and the desired engraving depth. 

It's highly recommended to do a test engrave on a scrap piece of leather before working on your final project. 

Check the settings for laser engraving leather using xTool laser engravers.

How Do You Make Laser Engraving Darker on Leather?

To get a darker engraving result on leather, you can adjust the laser engraving settings either by using a higher power or a lower speed.

Should You Wet Leather before Laser Engraving?

Yes, slightly moistening the leather can make it more pliable and enhance the engraving process. It also helps in reducing smoke production during engraving. Be sure to lightly sprinkle water on the surface; the goal is to dampen, not soak the leather.

How to Clean Leather after Laser Engraving?

You can use a specialized leather cleaner or simply dampen a cloth with alcohol and wipe the leather surface.

How Do You Seal Leather after Laser Engraving?

You can either put a leather conditioner oil or coat it with beeswax. Another option is applying a sealant followed by an antique, which not only seals but also darkens and adds color to the leather.

Conclusion

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.

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