A Beginner’s Guide to Laser Engraving

A Beginner’s Guide to Laser Engraving

The art of engraving has been around for centuries and has been used in many applications since it was first used. Now, this craft is being used at an entirely different level with greater accuracy, efficiency, and almost limitless possibilities through laser engraving. A typical laser cutter is capable of cutting and engraving with great precision in just a matter of minutes. But how exactly does this technology work? This guide explains what laser engraving is and how it is able to produce those stunningly beautiful creations.

What is Laser Engraving?

Laser engraving is a process that creates marks on parts and products by physically removing the surface of the material to expose a cavity that reveals an image at eye level. It’s slightly different from laser etching which involves melting the material’s surface to create patterns or images.

Lasers have a wide range of varying applications in different industries, from aerospace to medical and manufacturing. Once seen as a tool for industrial-based projects, laser engravers are now serving small businesses, DIY hobbyists, and ambitious crafters. Knowing how laser engraving works can allow you to master the art of laser engraving on different materials and surfaces.

How Does Laser Engraving Work?

Laser technologies are powered by what’s called a Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER). Yes, the world laser is an acronym, and it describes exactly how it works through the process of light amplification.

A typical laser beam from a laser-engraving machine serves as a chisel to make marks or cuts as it removes layers from a material’s surface. The beam pinpoints specified areas programmed into it with intense energy levels to generate the heat required to vaporise the material’s surface into fumes. You can use this laser to etch a wide variety of materials, including steel, aluminium, anodised aluminium, lead, magnesium, and zinc.

What’s the Difference Between Laser Marking, Etching, and Engraving

Most people use these terms interchangeably, but there are actually differences between them. They also use laser technologies but actually use them differently in order to produce a variety of results. Let’s break down the main differences between them. 

Laser Engraving – As mentioned earlier, engraving uses laser beams to physically remove a portion of the surface area. This typically involves the use of a CO2 laser and is best used on materials like leather and wood.

Laser Marking – Through the use of a low-powered beam, laser marking interacts with the surface of a material to slightly alter its properties or appearance. It can mark organic materials like wood, textiles, or cardboard with the use of a CO2 laser. However, if you want to mark metals or hard plastics, you need a stronger fibre laser machine to do the job.

Laser Etching – This is just a subset of engraving that primarily uses the heat of the laser to melt the surface of the material. The melted material then expands and causes a raised mark.


Nowadays, laser engraving has a lot of commercial applications that can be used by businesses, designers, and even people who consider engraving a hobby. With this piece of technology, anyone can learn the art of engraving using lasers.

Axzyra is a technology business located just north of the inkjet technology hub in Cambridge, UK. We offer flushing hardware, expertise and training, alongside a professional inspection, recovery and flush service to the UK inkjet market. If you’re interested in laser engraving or inkjet training, contact Axzyra today!