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Adapting print artwork for laser cutting

Adapting print artwork for laser cutting

Earlier this year, Jessica Taylor commissioned her Geometric Bear and Geometric Seahorse designs as laser cut decorations made from 3mm laser plywood. Jessica and her customers loved them, so she decided to commission her Geometric Festive stag design as Christmas decorations.

Is artwork for print suitable for laser cutting?

Not always. Each project needs to be taken on a case by case basis. It depends on how the artwork has been created. If the effects required from printing and laser cutting are very different, then different artwork files may be required.

At first glance, all three pieces of Jessica’s artwork were perfect vector files. But on closer inspection, they weren’t. Here’s why.

All the printed lines had been created as rectangles of the right thickness to be printed like the chef  in The Edible Alchemist’s logo. Hairline lines would have been too fine for the printed effect that Jessica wanted. But laser cutting and engraving needs hairlines.

In the picture above, you can see how much thicker the printed lines of the whale are in comparison with the engraved detail on the deer and bear decorations.

double lines for print line thickness
double lines for print line thickness

What would happen if the artwork wasn’t adapted?

If I laser cut and engraved using the printed artwork, all the lines have been engraved as two lines in parallel as you can see in the geo bear artwork above.

Also, there would have been lots of burning on the backs of the items  as only one cut is necessary to get through 3mm laser ply, not two.

Unnecessary cuts degrade product quality and add to production time. This means you get a poorer quality product at a higher price!

How Jessica tweaked her artwork

I explained to Jessica that I needed all the lines to be thin lines only, not rectangles.

All the lines to be engraved would be vector engraved. Product outlines had to be one complete hairline surrounding the shape so the products would be cut out completely in one continuous line. Cut out areas like between the front knees should be the same to maximise product quality.


Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.