Leather Laser Engraving: All You Need to Know

by Winnie Li on November 25, 2022

Laser engravers and small businesses 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).

laser engraved leather items

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
  • Conclusion

Can You Laser Engrave a Leather?

Yes, you can laser engrave leather. Many reasons make laser engraving the preferred option to engrave leather.

Advantages of Laser Engraving on Leather

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. 

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. You can customize the leather piece or make customized products with it. Thus, laser engraving of leather is possible.

How Does Laser Engraving on 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 intense 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. The powerful laser beams reach the surface, then the temperature rises sharply. 

how laser engraving leather works

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.

laser engraved leather notebook

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 power and speed setting test before you start.

Leather Not Recommended for Laser Engraving

Synthetic leather, such as faux leather and suede, 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.

Buying Guide: How to Pick a Laser Engraving Machine for Leather?

While buying a laser machine for leather engraving, 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 wallet

Type of Laser

There are different types of lasers on the market, such as the CO2 laser, fiber laser, diode laser, UV laser, etc. You need to choose the right type of laser engraving machine for leather.

The lasers that can engrave leather are CO2, fiber, and UV. These three types can be used, but CO2 is considered the best option.

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 marking, while UV lasers are good for marking 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.

Secondly, CO2 lasers are compatible with a wide range of materials, such as leather, wood, acrylic, stone, marble, paper, cardboard, glass, metal, rubber, food, and fabric. 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 laser 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 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.

High Accuracy

For excellent engraving results, high accuracy is essential. The laser 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.

Safety Features

Some safety features must be in laser leather engraving machines, 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.

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. 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 laser for this purpose. The machine has incredible features that a leather engraver needs. Moreover, it can engrave a wide range of materials, allowing you to work on different products.

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