Engraving leather with a laser machine will leave black debris which requires soft handling. Otherwise, there might be some black marks that will require further effort which costs both time and money.
In this article, we will discuss about the critical areas of engraved leather post-processing techniques.
Why does leather engraving leave black debris?
The black debris is essentially a byproduct of the laser engraving process. Leather is made from animal hides and is an organic material.
When a laser beam comes into contact with leather, it causes a reaction known as ‘laser ablation.’ This process vaporizes the surface layer of the material to etch the desired design. Sometimes the ablation can cause shrinking or over-burning of the leather depending on the leather types and the settings you are applying to.
As the laser burns away the leather, it creates smoke and dust from the charred material. This dust can settle back onto the surface, appearing as black debris or a residue around the engraved area.
For example, imagine using a high-precision laser to engrave a detailed pattern onto a leather wallet. As the laser moves across the leather, it disrupts the surface, causing small pieces of the top layer to burn and flake away.
These tiny particles can accumulate around the etched design, much like sawdust around a woodworking project.
Usually, we do not see any black debris after performing hand leather engraving just because they’re is no use of any fire (laser beam).
Tips for clean leather laser engraving
Here is a few tips which will help you to engrave your leather more effeciently:
Optimize Your Laser Settings: Before starting, test your laser on a scrap piece of leather to find the optimal speed and power settings that minimize burning and residue. Remember, high laser power would burn your laser more and leave a black residue that looks awkward.
Use an Air Assist: Most laser engravers come with an air assist feature that blows a stream of air on the point of contact. This helps to remove debris as it’s produced, keeping both your leather and the laser cleaner. Make sure to adjust the airflow to a high level. It will remove the debris from the laser point and also protect your leather from overburn.
Apply Masking Tape: A simple trick is to apply a layer of masking tape over the area to be engraved. The laser will engrave through the tape, which will then capture much of the residue. When you peel off the tape, it takes most of the soot with it. Moreover, the masking tape also helps in protecting your leather from edge burns.
Steps of cleaning leather after laser engraving
After your laser engraving is done, the first job is to carefully remove the masking tape.
If you did not use any masking tape, use a soft brush or an air blower to throw away the dust.
Make sure you do not touch the engraved area as the moisture will make the ashes sticky.
After you are done with blowing debris with the brushes, you may use any soft clothes to wipe them out.
You may also use a gentle soap or mild cleanser to wash leather but, washing is not required always if you can wipe out the black ashes.
Leather engraving is a fun process if you know the right settings to apply. Debris needs careful cleaning obviously with a brush or soft towel. It is recommended not to use water or any soluble soap before you clean the dry debris with either a brush or an air blower.
Good luck with your next leather engraving.