Types of Leather
The engraving results you achieve with your laser depend on the kind of leather you’re working with and how the laser beam reacts with it. There are four primary kinds of leather:
- Full-grain leather - highest quality
- Top grain leather - second highest quality
- Corrected grain (bottom/cut split leather) - also known as “genuine leather”
- Bonded leather - lowest quality, made up of leftovers of the hide
There are several options under the four primary types of leather including pigmented leather, veg-tanned leather, antique-grain leather, and many more.
Suede is another type of soft leather, and while not as durable as the types we mentioned above, it can also be laser engraved and cut.
Laser Engraving Leather
The process of engraving or etching leather results in a debossed effect and, depending on the surface of the leather, produces a noticeable and clean contrast. Light-colored leathers produce significant color contrast, whereas engraving darker leathers results in a more subtle contrast. If you need a dynamic color contrast, go with a tan, beige, or light brown leather.
Your engraving results are mostly dependent on the type of leather used as well as your laser speed, power, and frequency settings. As with any material, we always recommend testing different parameters until you achieve your desired results.
Laser Cutting Leather
Depending on the wattage of your laser, you’ll be able to cut through leather anywhere between 1/16” and 1/4” in thickness, perhaps slightly thicker with two passes.
Benefits of Cutting Leather with a Laser
There are several benefits to using your laser to cut leather. First, the laser provides sealed cuts that won’t fray or otherwise deteriorate. Secondly, unlike manual leather cutting tools such as utility knives and rotary cutters, cutting leather with a laser is incredibly fast, precise, and perhaps most importantly, consistent. Additionally, cutting with the laser eliminates warping that can sometimes happen with hand tools.
When using the laser to cut leather, there is no part-to-part contact, which means there are no blades or costly parts to replace. Lastly, there’s no time wasted clamping down leather for processing. Simply insert the sheet into your laser bed and engrave or cut your desired pattern.
Interested in a laser machine for engraving leather?
Fill out the form on this page to get a full product line brochure and laser cut and engraved samples.
Looking for a little laser inspiration?
Epilog’s Sample Club, which is updated monthly, features a variety of projects, including several leather-specific items. Here you’ll find free, downloadable files, as well as step-by-step instructions, laser settings, material vendors, and much more!
Laser systems have the ability to take something that is mass produced and give it a customized message or look. Whether you’re laser engraving leather goods that have already been created, or are laser cutting leather to produce your own unique creations, this material is a very popular substrate to use with your Epilog Laser system.