Setup Your Laser to Engrave Denim

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Introduction: Setup Your Laser to Engrave Denim

You can really make a Denim piece of clothing pop by engraving something personal onto it. Many Makerspaces now have laser engravers but the though of putting your expensive jeans into a laser engraver is a scary one.

So, what you need to do is experiment with your laser to understand how to vaporise the dye without burning the cotton.

This instructable is allow about how to experiment and get the settings require for success with your particular machine. I would like to point out that engraving tattoo designs is particularly attractive, but pop back for an additional set of engraving instructables that will be posted soon.

Step 1: Place Test Denim on Laser Bed

So the first step is to place a test strip of denim fabric on your laser bed. You may want to use some magnets to hold the fabric flat and tight. You can see our magnets just in the corners, you will need to choose magnets that are thinner than the lowest height of your laser assembly.

Once on the bed you need to set the focal height of your laser, we use the datum function of the z-axis and the machine uses the probe to set it perfect every time.

Step 2: Configure Lasercut 5.3 for Engraving Denim

With laser cut we can set 16 different settings using different colours. I have chosen to use four rectangles and set the power of each engraving for the four rectangles.

Drag out your four rectangles, select them individually and choose a range of powers to engrave. We have a 100 watt tube which is quite powerful, so I started at 10% and incremented in 5%.

So for my first set of rectangles i set 10, 15, 20 and 25.

Step 3: Make Test Engravings and Adjust Settings

In the previous step I used 10%,15%,20% and 25% for my starting power. You can see from the photo that the 20% and 25% power setting actually burnt the cotton. The 10% did not show any noticeable change to the colour of the denim.

I decided that my settings would be between 10% and 20%. So I repeated the experiment until I had found acceptable settings that changed the colour of the denim without burning the cotton.

Step 4: Capture Your Settings and Document Them

You need to capture your settings. What I did was to document my test denim by using a permant marker and writing the power settings directly onto the denim, This has now been posted on our laser room wall for all to use and modify.

It is important to note that there are different weights of denim, different dyes. The cotton may be holding more water on some days, these variables will change the settings but they will be close. You will always need to do a test engraving on each new denim product.

Please have fun and let us know what your engrave onto your denim in the comments below.

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    11 Discussions

    0
    domdom5656
    domdom5656

    Question 7 months ago

    I have a 15w blue laser will it distress the jeans to make the hole look with the white lines still good or do I need a CO2 LASER to make this happen?
    Tried a few times but makes the white threads too brittle but still playing with the power and speed
    Any recommendations very welcomed
    Thanks in advance

    0
    domdom5656
    domdom5656

    7 months ago

    I'm currently using the free trial software for lightburn and I think it's pretty easy to learn

    0
    Gaïamamart_France
    Gaïamamart_France

    10 months ago

    Hi. Thanks for this post. I'll try today. Do you think there's Big differences between differents types of jean ?

    0
    NickB317
    NickB317

    2 years ago

    ive done a few pairs of of jeans like this the look awesome. but has anyone tried this with a galvo laser instead of a CO2? as we recently got one at work im going to play with when i get a chance

    0
    mac.pavia
    mac.pavia

    5 years ago

    what kind of laser engraving software are you using?

    0
    killbox
    killbox

    Reply 4 years ago

    looks like 'lasercut 5.3' our makerspace has a G-wilke 80W China laser that uses the same software, its a bit buggy and not great, but it works. sadly i needs a $300 dongle, because we woudl love to run it on multiple pc's so people can prep work and not tie up the cutter pc.

    0
    dokworm
    dokworm

    Reply 4 years ago

    Lasercut 6.1 is out now and doesn't need a dongle.

    0
    RobotEyes
    RobotEyes

    4 years ago

    Take a look at my new Engraving software

    Robot Laser Project page : http://www.robot-eyes.com/en/RobotLaser/

    At the moment the software is WORK IN PROGRESS currently, in ALPHA testing.

    ALPHA and BETA Versions are totally free.

    Please send an email at robotlaser@robot-eyes.com with your opinion, thanks.

    Carlo

    0
    Th3rdsun
    Th3rdsun

    5 years ago on Introduction

    What kind of engraver do you have? I have a Trotec Speedy 300 here in the shop and the speed can't reach 600.100 is the max speed setting.

    0
    impied
    impied

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! I'm going to have to test this on our laser cutters.

    0
    Kafukai
    Kafukai

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Cool!

    I didn't know it is possible to engrave a denim with laser, and with so many shades.