Leather laser cutting and engraving.
Leather is a durable, flexible material created by the tanning of animal rawhide – usually from cattle.
Laser cutting with protective backing
As a natural material, leather tends to cut with burn marks. Where possible, we try to use protective backing or protective mask on the top and reverse faces to keep burn marks on the to a minimum. You will need to peel the protective backing off once you have received your job.
Laser cutting without protective backing
Please bear in mind that on some leathers the protective backing can cause the top surface of the leather to rip slightly when peeled away. We will need to test a small area of leather to determine this. In this case we won’t be able to use it. We will cut with a high pressure of compressed air to try and keep these marks as minimal as possible. The reverse side will also become marked from contact with the laser bed, particularly on honeycomb. Thicker more coarse leather require more power to cut through than thinner more flexible leathers resulting in stronger surface marks.
Hides must be as flat as possible
You need to make sure you supply your leather hides as flat as possible. It’s best not to keep them rolled for a long period of time as they tend to keep a slight curved shape and become harder to flatten out. Natural curves in the hide particular around the edges can also be problematic. This can pose lots of issues when cutting or engraving as the laser will not be able to remain focused causing problems with cutting through and variation in the engraving. Bare this in mind when selecting your hide so to choose the most uniform and flat possible.
Cut widths & Kerf
The average cutting kerf (how much the laser takes away) for leather ranges from +/- 0.2mm depending on thickness. As a benchmark, we recommend that minimum cut widths be no smaller than the corresponding thickness of the material. For example, if cutting from 2mm leather, it’s best not to allow any widths less than 2mm. We can go smaller (see cut width image above) but this can make your pieces very fragile which might not be suitable for your application. See more on cut widths and Kerf (how much the laser takes away.)
The laser cut edge will usually be a darker tone to the leather surface. The edge will tend to darker the thicker and coarser the leather being cut.
Raster & Vector engraving
If it is a natural leather, the engraving will usually appear darker / slightly burnt in appearance than the leather colour. If the leather is synthetic the engraving can be less contrasted. We will not know how the laser reacts to your leather material until we test it with our standardized setting. Meaning we can’t guarantee any specific outcome or result prior to testing. You will need to supply us with a portion of your leather for us to establish adequate laser settings to determine if we need to tweak the settings before engraving.
Be aware that the higher laser power and slower processing speeds required to do this can causes more burn marks on the top and bottom surface. The laser machine extraction can also pulls these fumes fumes over the top surface creating a scorched edge appearance to the engraving that is stronger the deeper it is. Deep engraving can also cause your leather to warp as it is being engraved which cases variation in the engraving.