Timeless techniques of experienced artisans and new technologies of industrial innovators have helped small businesses grow and flourish, changing the face of commerce as we know it.
“These small businesses are continually making their marks, especially in the fashion industry, where laser engraving has made production more effective and efficient.”
Many leather product manufacturers have taken advantage of laser engraving technology to run their operations more efficiently. Knowledge of how to engrave leather was once hard to find and has since proven to be of great importance in many fields.
Yet, it stands out in the fashion industry as it creates very aesthetically appealing patterns on leather products of any kind. Aesthetic engraving adds a touch of luxury and class to any leather product. Today, you will learn the characteristics and advantages of using CO2 laser engravers in your leatherworking projects and the basics of how to engrave leather.
What Machine to Use
Traditionally, engraving can be done using hand tools such as C-clamps. Still, the process would not suffice for mass production because hand tools require a lot of perseverance and expertise, and worse, it is a prolonged process. The invention of the CO2 laser engraver has dramatically improved the process of leather engraving.
The process starts by placing the leather in the laser machine. Evaporation of the material occurs as a laser beam burns into the leather. As the laser burns into the surface, it accurately imprints the desired design on the leather surface, which comes out in black color. This is why it is strongly advised to use light or medium brown leather as it will be almost impossible to see a black color design on black leather.
What Type of Leather Works Best
Nearly any leather type can be engraved — either human-made or synthetic pieces of leather, including suede and nubuck. Suede leather is elegant, soft, lightweight, and breathable, while nubuck leather is long-lasting and better than most synthetic leather. But it is strongly advised to engrave light or medium brown leather so that the designs or images engraved are clearly seen. Using dark leather, especially black leather, is not recommended.
Advantages of CO2 Laser Engraving on Leather
A CO2 laser engraver is flexible because it allows for rapid development of new design samples and enables trying out many textures, patterns, and other effects. Technically, it aids product development and speeds up the overall production cycle. This is because you can easily switch designs, patterns, or logos as you desire during the product development process.
By identifying shared contours that can be cut at once, the controlling software allows for the CO2 laser machine’s optimized efficiency. In all, similar engraving can be done at a go without unnecessary back and forth along the path.
With CO2 laser engravers, it is possible to keep producing the same designs with little or no differences. It has that superior ability to repeat procedures, patterns, or text without any mistake or error.
The use of nesting software allows for choosing the best pattern to be engraved, thus mitigating wastage. With this software, only the best path to engrave the expected image will be followed.
Fast and Reliable
The use of CO2 laser engraving machines saves a lot of time compared to other methods of engraving. Thus, in the event of multiple production processes, it is a sufficient approach to leather engraving as it is not time-consuming, and the work is being done accurately.
Maybe you don’t know, but CO2 laser machines do not use harmful chemicals throughout the entire engraving process. All that is needed is a small mix of CO2 and water in the right proportion. Thus, there are little or no emissions to the environment, especially when engraving leather.
Key Components of a CO2 Laser Engraver
Specialized software programs control the whole CO2 leather engraving process, which is typical for all laser applications. There are three major components of a standard laser engraving machine for leather:
- CO2 Laser Source
- Laser Scanning Head: Composed of an X-axis galvanometer, a Y-axis galvanometer, and a Z-axis actuator that intensely adjusts the lens’s focal length. The scanning head’s primary purpose is to divert the CO2 beam to keep it fixated on the working area. In essence, it helps regulate the laser’s focal length based on the leather type.
- Software: Translates the operator’s design into an instruction that the laser beam will follow.
Machine Safety and Other useful tips
Naturally, laser engraving has the potential to bring about fire hazards, but careful usage will avert such a disaster. Thus, certain safety precautions must be observed when using laser machines, such as:
- An operator must stay close when engraving, especially when the material can easily combust.
- The necessary covers must be in place to avoid the laser beam deviating and probably hurting passers-by.
- Always allow the machine to rest when the work seems intense. For every 5 hour job, the machine should rest for about 30 minutes midway.
- Any form of debris, strong magnetic or electrical interference must be removed to avoid shock or fire.
- Do not touch the laser head during operation.
- Always wear the necessary protective gears such as hand gloves and eyeglasses.
From this article, you must have been able to pick up details about the significance of CO2 laser engravers in relation to how to engrave leather. More importantly, the major role it has played in the general improvement to the business of engraved leather production.
Generally, lasers have pushed the frontier of innovation in the fashion industry and small businesses at large. Hence, fashion product manufacturers have been able to make more intricate designs based on laser technology. OMTech strives to remain the best provider of CO2 laser engraving machines that guarantees optimum efficiency and production of quality and precise designs on leather. If you have the time, you can stop by their newly opened Southern California showroom for a live demonstration.