DIY Laser Engraving

Updated April 17, 2017

A laser engraver system allows you to engrave on a wide variety of materials such as wood, acrylic, grass, leather, cloth, plastic, rubber, and more. You can engrave photos, logos, or other designs on these materials. If you plan to engrave a high volume of materials or prints, it will be more cost-effective to purchase a laser engraver and do it yourself rather than continuously having these services done by someone else.

Decide on a laser engraver to fit your needs. Lower priced "starter" laser engravers are suitable for small business use or if you only plan to do a small to moderate amount of engraving. A middle class series is available for higher speed and power, and an industrial series will engrave almost any material and offesr bonus features. When you are just starting out, the starter laser engravers are probably suitable for your needs.

Choose a graphic design software program and install the software.

Hook up the laser engraver to the computer. Turn the laser engraver system off and connect a USB cable from your computer into the USB port located on the right side of the engraver near the back. The USB cable will probably be included with your laser engraver. Once you turn your laser engraver back on your computer will prompt you to install the Dashboard print driver.

The Dashboard print driver should be included on a CD-ROM with your laser engraver. This is how the laser engraver sends signals to your computer through the USB cable. Set up the IP address on the laser engraver. Set up the IP address on your computer in the Local Area Connection icon; choose the IP address that corresponds with the laser engraver system you purchased. Insert the Dashboard print driver CD-ROM into your computer and follow the prompts to install under the printer port on your computer. Use the same IP address in your printer port.

Use your downloaded graphic design software to create the design you would like to engrave. You can design a logo, photo, or any design image that you choose. Place the material you are engraving on the laser system's table and print your design. You may wish to use a sample material first to ensure the design is satisfactory.

Using your dashboard print driver, centre your design, logo, or letters. Measure how much space is needed and define within the driver. Set the print parameters to match the size of the materials. Place the material in the laser engraver and activate the Red Dot Pointer from the dashboard driver. The Red Dot Pointer is a red beam that allows you to visualise the engraving area . The Red Dot Pointer should be centred in the engraving area on your material. Place your artwork close to the top edge of the page layout; when the machine engraves materials it will begin at the top. Print from your dashboard print driver. You can set the speed and power to match your materials. You can print multiple pages with some programs by setting pages in the Print Range box. Save your configuration settings.

Acrylic and wood are the most popular materials to be engraved. When engraving acrylics, the back of the material is commonly used; remember to reverse your artwork before printing to mirror the design. Choose brass materials that are coated with paint or polish; engrave using a high speed and low power. When engraving glass, apply dish soap and smooth out wet newspaper over the engraving area, then engrave through the paper. Plastic materials may need to be engraved twice. Wood is very easy to engrave, however it may require a high speed and high power.

Use a soft cloth and isopropyl alcohol to remove smoke and debris from the table after every use. Clean mirrors and lenses using a cotton swab and an optics cleaner; pure ethyl alcohol works well as an optics cleaner. Periodically remove debris from the exhaust blower and duct system. Clean the vents inside the laser engraver using a wire brush. Use compressed air to clean dust from the laser tube fins. Regularly empty the debris that forms in the bottom of the vector grid by removing the front panel. It is very important to keep your laser engraver system clean to prevent fire and maintain the machine.


Wear safety goggles when using the laser engraver. Never leave the laser engraver unattended during use.

Things You'll Need

  • Laser engraver system
  • Computer
  • Graphic design software program
  • Materials to be engraved
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About the Author

Rebecca Blackburn began writing professionally in 2006. Her writing has been featured in the University of Central Florida Counseling Clinic handbook. Blackburn has a Bachelor of Arts degree in legal studies and a Master of Arts degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Central Florida.