Top Rubber Laser Engravers + [Tips & Suggestions]

Rubber is a sensitive material that cannot absorb high laser power. However, Co2 lasers can only engrave rubber but the melting accuracy would depend on the settings that you are applying. This article will discuss these issues at best.

Here are the top 3 rubber laser engraving machines: (You may choose one from here or jump to the detailed review section)

Have you seen a person wearing an engraved wrist brand 5 years back?

Well, rubber laser engraving has just stepped into a new era.

Rubber cutting and engraving using a laser machine is tricky because not all types of laser beams can engrave rubber due to heat sensitivity.

We experimented with rubber and silicone engraving using 9 different laser engravers including both diode and CO2 lasers. We noted all of our findings and wrote this piece of article so that helps great!

Let’s dig out more and see which are the three best laser engravers for rubber laser engraving!

Rubber is a flexible material mainly used to create stamps, gaskets, electric insulation, and engine seals. Also, rubber is used for prototyping industrial and medical components. Laser cutting and engraving rubber offers precise cutting which makes it suitable for specific applications.

This article mainly focuses on the technical aspects of laser cutting and engraving rubber and will suggest some laser engravers that may be suitable for rubber engraving.

How does laser cut rubber?

A laser cutter uses its focused laser beam to cut through the rubber and other materials. Typically, a CO2 laser is used to cut rubber due to heat absorption and the required laser wavelength.

The process starts with placing a rubber sheet, preferably a wrinkle-free one into the laser cutting bed. A computer-aided design or CAD file will then be used to instruct the laser machine to cut or engrave. Usually, you need a CO2 Laser cutter to cut through the rubber which emits a high-power laser at the required wavelength. Besides, a CO2 laser is preferred due to the capacity to control the power of laser emission due to the material being so flexible.

The system will then automatically focus and position the laser on the rubber sheet and cut or engrave at the appropriate settings, There may be some laser cutters where you need to set the laser parameters otherwise the excess power will burn the rubber sheet excessively.

Rubber Laser Engraving

In some cases, assist gases, such as nitrogen or air, may be used to enhance the cutting process. These gases help remove debris and prevent charring on the cut edges. As the laser cuts through the rubber, it simultaneously cools and solidifies the cut edges, minimizing the risk of deformation or melting beyond the cutting line.

Difficulties and Technical Complexities:

  • Material Composition: Rubber is a diverse material with various formulations, including natural rubber and synthetic rubber compounds. Different rubber compositions can react differently to laser cutting. Understanding the specific rubber’s properties is crucial for achieving the desired results. Here comes the need to understand the different laser engraving glossaries that help in setting the appropriate parameters for rubber cutting through laser.
  • Material Thickness: The thickness of the rubber sheet affects the laser-cutting process. Thick rubber may require multiple passes or increased laser power, while thin rubber can be more delicate and prone to melting or burning. In some cases, vaporizing is preferred over burning if the need is to make a rubber stamp instead of giving the rubber sheet a particular shape.
  • Charring: Rubber tends to char when exposed to laser heat. This can result in discolored and uneven edges. Managing the power, speed, and focus of the laser is critical to reduce charring.  For example, Thicker rubber typically requires more laser power to cut through efficiently. However, excessively high power can lead to charring even in thicker materials, and Proper ventilation and the use of air assist systems can help remove fumes and reduce the heat-affected zone, contributing to cleaner cuts.
  • Edge Quality: Achieving clean and precise edges is challenging with rubber due to its tendency to melt and deform. Optimization of laser parameters and settings is essential for obtaining high-quality cuts.
  • Complex Geometries: Cutting intricate and fine details in rubber without causing distortion or burning can be technically challenging. It requires careful programming and laser control.
  • Material Adhesion: Rubber can have adhesive properties, and this adhesive layer can build upon the laser optics, reducing the cutting quality and necessitating frequent maintenance.
  • Material Resilience: Rubber is elastic and resilient, which can make it challenging to hold securely in place on the cutting bed. Proper fixation is necessary to prevent material movement during cutting.

In summary, laser cutting of rubber is a precise but complex process. Achieving consistent and high-quality results depends on understanding the specific rubber material, optimizing laser parameters, and implementing appropriate safety measures. Overcoming challenges like charring, edge quality, and material adherence requires experience and expertise in laser cutting technology.

What types of rubber are perfect for laser cutting & engraving?

Laser cutting and engraving can be performed on various types of rubber materials, but the suitability depends on the intended application and the specific properties of the rubber. For instance, Silicone rubber is a popular choice for laser cutting and engraving due to its versatility and heat resistance, and EPDM rubber is popular for Gaskets, weatherstripping, automotive seals, and industrial components due to its excellent weather resistance and durability.

The below table shows which types of rubber are good for laser cutting and engraving referring to their usability.

Types of rubber Application Reason
Silicone Rubber Gaskets, seals, rubber stamps, custom silicone products, silicone molds versatility and heat resistance
EPDM Rubber Gaskets, weatherstripping, automotive seals, industrial components resistance and durability
Neoprene Rubber Gaskets, seals, wet suits, sports equipment, and more chemical resistance and flexibility
Natural Rubber Rubber stamps, custom rubber products, industrial components, and more. elasticity and tear resistance
Foam Rubber Foam padding, cosplay costumes, packaging inserts, and more. good for precise and intricate designs
Nitrile Rubber Seals, gaskets, O-rings, industrial components, and more. oil-resistant and offers good chemical resistance
Acrylic Rubber (ACM) Seals, gaskets, automotive components, and more. combines the properties of rubber and acrylic
SBR Rubber Gaskets, industrial parts, footwear, and more cost-effective
Microcellular Rubber Sealing, padding, shock absorption, and more can be laser-cut to create intricate and lightweight parts

In comparing EPDM rubber and silicone rubber from the perspective of laser engraving, significant differences emerge. First, EPDM rubber is characterized by its high density and durability. These properties make it more resistant to laser engraving, requiring higher power settings on the laser engraver and potentially lengthening the processing time. Additionally, the engraved areas on EPDM rubber tend to be coarse and less defined. This is the reason behind recommending a CO2 laser for EPDM rubber.

In contrast, silicone rubber, known for its elasticity and lower density, exhibits different responses to laser engraving. It can be engraved at lower power settings, making the process faster and more energy-efficient. The engravings on silicone are often smoother with greater detail due to the material’s softer nature. So, an infrared laser would also help in engraving the silicon.

Rubber stamp laser engraving

Laser engraving rubber stamp comes with unique challenges such as depth, clarity, and alignment. However, addressing the issues beforehand can save both time and cost.

Rubber Stamp Laser Engraving

Depth and Clarity of Engraving

Achieving consistent and clear engraving depth can be challenging, especially when dealing with small, intricate designs.

To address this challenge, ensure that the laser settings, including power, speed, and focus, are optimized for the rubber material you are using. Experimenting with different settings can be beneficial to finding the right balance between depth and clarity. Using a high-resolution image or vector file is suggested to ensure fine details are captured accurately.

Odor & Fumes

Laser engraving rubber can produce strong odors and fumes that may be unpleasant or harmful if not properly managed.

Proper ventilation and exhaust systems are essential. Ensure your workspace has good airflow, and use a dedicated exhaust system to remove fumes and odors. Additionally, consider using rubber materials that are designed to emit fewer fumes during laser engraving.

Similarly, using an enclosed laser engraver such as Gweike or xTool P2 can be a clever choice to reduce odor and fume. These two laser engravers are fully enclosed and are delivered along with the fume exhaust.

Selection of material

Not all rubber materials are suitable for laser engraving. Choosing the right rubber is critical for achieving quality results.

We prefer to select rubber materials specifically designed for laser engraving. Laser rubber sheets can be a good choice which are optimized for laser processing and provide consistent results. Ensure that the rubber is free from contaminants or coatings that can interfere with engraving.

Alignment

Precisely aligning the rubber stamp on the engraving bed to match the design on the computer screen can be tricky.

Use laser alignment systems that can help you position the rubber stamp accurately on the engraving bed. Additionally, consider using registration marks on your rubber stamp and in your design file to ensure proper alignment.

If you are running batch processing and worried about the alignment, The xTool P2 can solve it, which doesn’t want the user to place material at a fixed dimension rather the laser machine itself identifies the right alignment of the rubber pieces using its automatic intelligence.

Edge Quality

Achieving clean and sharp edges in the engraved design can be challenging due to the nature of the rubber itself.

We recommend using high-quality rubber materials and ensuring that the laser beam is correctly focused. There may be an advanced laser machine like OMTech Polar that doesn’t need you to adjust focus. Adjust laser parameters to minimize charring or melting at the edges. Consider post-processing techniques, such as trimming or sanding, to refine the edges if necessary.

Rubber Band laser engraving

We tried some experiments to laser engrave the Apple watch’s rubber bands. The test was mainly done to figure out the probable challenges someone can face during such engravings.

Have a look at the pictures of the first experiment:

Rubber band laser engraving

Despite the initial challenges, I was thrilled with the final result. The engraved symbol on my Apple Watch rubber band looked sharp, meaningful, and perfectly aligned. It added a personal touch that made my watch even more special to me.

Here’s the second experiment of rubber engraving using xTool P2

Silicon laser engraving using xTool P2

Choosing the right rubber band for engraving was our very first challenge. Not all rubber bands are suitable for laser engraving, and some may produce undesirable results. We had to ensure that the selected rubber band wouldn’t deform or melt during the engraving process.

To address this issue, we opted for a high-quality, silicone rubber band that the engraving service recommended for laser work. This ensured that the material could withstand the heat generated during the engraving process.

Ensuring precision was another challenge because the watch will be on the wrist and the letter should not seem unreadable. For that, we have chosen xTool P2 which engraves at a precision of 0.002 mm which made the whole job easier.

Creating design was another challenge as we wanted the symbol to be crisp and easily recognizable. We worked with a graphic designer to create a vector image of the wristband design, which ensured that the laser engraving would capture even the finest details. This step was crucial in achieving a clear and sharp result.

laser engraving an Apple Watch rubber band was a rewarding experience, but it did come with its share of challenges. However, by choosing the right material, working on a precise design, ensuring proper alignment, addressing fumes, and optimizing laser settings, these challenges can be overcome. The personalized touch on my watch band made the process entirely worthwhile.

Why CO2 laser is perfect for rubber?

CO2 lasers are often preferred for rubber cutting and engraving due to their specific wavelength and the interaction between their beam and the material. This interaction makes them highly suitable for rubber processing. Here’s why CO2 lasers are commonly used, explained using an example:

Wavelength Compatibility:

CO2 lasers emit light in the far-infrared spectrum, typically around 10.6 micrometers. This wavelength is highly compatible with rubber materials because it is readily absorbed by organic substances like rubber. On the other side, Laser engravers such as xTool F1 are suitable for wood and metal because they have two laser heads one being an IR laser.

When the CO2 laser beam is directed onto the rubber surface, the energy from the beam is efficiently absorbed by the rubber. This absorption leads to rapid heating and vaporization of the material at the point of contact with the laser beam. This localized heating allows for precise cutting or engraving of the rubber.

For the best engraving result – we recommend xTool P2 which offers maximum engraving speed with great precision.

Minimal Scorching and Charring:

The wavelength of CO2 lasers is well-suited for controlled heating of rubber, resulting in minimal scorching and charring when used within the recommended power and speed parameters.

Suppose you’re engraving a rubber stamp with fine details using a CO2 laser. The focused laser beam will accurately heat and vaporize the rubber, creating the desired engraving without causing excessive charring or damage to the surrounding material. This ensures clean and precise results.

Versatile Material Compatibility:

CO2 lasers can effectively process various types of rubber, including natural rubber, silicone rubber, EPDM, neoprene, and more. This versatility makes CO2 lasers suitable for a wide range of rubber applications.

Consider a scenario where you need to cut gaskets of different rubber materials for industrial equipment. A CO2 laser can handle the task efficiently, regardless of the specific rubber compound, by adjusting the laser parameters accordingly.

Precision and Detail:

CO2 laser cutters offer exceptional precision and detail, making them suitable for intricate designs and fine engraving on rubber.

If you want to engrave a complex and detailed logo on a silicone rubber bracelet. A CO2 laser can accurately reproduce the logo with intricate details, ensuring that the final result is both visually appealing and of high quality.

While CO2 laser beams are well-suited for rubber cutting and engraving, it’s essential to note that other laser types, such as fiber lasers and UV lasers, may also have their applications in specific rubber processing scenarios. However, the interaction between CO2 lasers and rubber materials, combined with their versatility and ability to minimize charring, makes them a popular choice for a wide range of rubber-related tasks.

Best Laser Engraver for Rubber

Best laser engraver for rubber

These are the best laser engravers for rubber:

  • xTool P2 (Best among all)
  • OMTech Polar
  • Gweike Cloud Pro

Comparison Table & Decision-Making Factors

Here’s a quick comparison of the rubber engraving machine

xTool P2 OMTech Polar Gweike Cloud Pro
Laser Type CO2 CO2 CO2
Laser Power 55 Watt 50 Watt 50 Watt
Precision 0.01 mm 0.01 mm 0.01 mm
Max Engraving Speed 600 mm/s 500 mm/s 600 mm/s
AI Image Processing Yes No No
Intelligent Batch Processing Yes No No
Fume Extractor Yes Yes Yes
AIr Purifier Yes No No

xTool P2 is a 55W CO2 laser having an engraving speed of 600 mm/s which is just perfect and best among all for cutting and engraving rubber. The P2 cuts at a speed of 35 mm/s which is more than enough if someone is looking to laser-cut rubber stamps or other rubber items. The P2 also features curved engraving which may not be suitable for engraving rubber; however, this feature is not available in any other CO2 laser machine. Moreover, the P2 is a lightburn-compatible laser machine which makes rubber engraving and laser cutting more efficient compared to other brands such as Glowforge lasers.

Besides, the OMTech Polar is our second-best laser cutter suitable for rubber which comes at a similar engraving speed of P2 but with a cutting speed of 29 mm/s. The cutting speed mentioned is tested on basewood so, the rubber cutting speed will be much higher than that. OMTech polar offers a slightly smaller laser work bed than that of P2 (20.1″ x 11.8″) which may not be an issue for rubber cutting and engraving. However, there are not any motorized pass-throughs in Polar like P2 which may be an issue while engraving or cutting large rubber pieces.

The Gweike Cloud Pro is a budget beast that is available at a price of nearly USD 2500 but offers similar working speed and features like OMTech Polar. Moreover, the Gweike features a 50W co2 laser which is lower than the xTool P2 but enough to laser cut and engrave rubber items.

All three lasers here is available for upgrading with rotary attachments that will assist in rubber-made tumblers and water bottles.

xTool P2 – Best Co2 laser machine for rubber

The P2 is the very first co2 laser from xTool which was earlier known for their popular diode lasers. Even though the P2 is said to be first, the features and other benefits helped the laser machine to stand among all. It comes with an engraving speed of 600 mm/s which is notably higher in any co2 laser engravers. Other features that helped the P2 to be the perfect laser for rubber are mentioned below:

First, have a look at the rubber stamp engraving done with the xTool P2

Rubber engraving using xTool P2

First of all, The P2 is the only laser engraver in the market that offers a motorized pass-through that enables the user to engrave on longer rubber sheets. This is highly beneficial if someone wants to laser cut or engrave any rubber-made matt or larger rubber pieces. The length of the rubber is infinity as it depends on the space you can accommodate. As far as the width of the working material is matched with the machine, the motorized pass-through feature will slowly push the working material in front to engrave.

Secondly, The P2 is becoming so popular due to its new feature of intelligent batch processing. Till today, we have seen that laser engravers can perform engravings on many pieces of materials but the user needs to place the materials and set the design for every piece. For P2, you just need to set the design for a single rubber piece then the engraver itself will detect the other rubber shapes for the rest of the pieces and so will the designs as well. It saves time and boosts crafters’ efficiency.

xTool P2 rubber engraver

Read the detailed review of the xTool P2 here.

We highly recommend P2 for its engraving speed of 600 mm per second which is the fastest speed as of today for the CO2 laser engravers. For, instance, recent releases such as Gweike & OMTech Polar offer 500 mm/s and the Glowforge laser engraving speed is limited to 450 mm/s. Notably, the engraving accuracy of the P2 is 0.001 which depicts that the user can engrave any material at the maximum precision having no sacrifice on print speed.

Why does P2 stand out for rubber engraving?

  • Engraving rubber would require a powerful Co2 laser and the P2 provides laser power of 55 watts.
  • While engraving silicone & rubber, the laser releases toxic fume which requires a laser enclosure. The P2 not only captures the toxic fume but also extracts it for further processing with its air purifier.
  • Engraving rubber requires a precision laser and the P2’s 0.01 mm precision helps in clear engraving results.
  • Notably, P2’s intelligent batch processing will allow a small crafter to engrave more than 100 silicone/rubber items on a single operation since he does not worry about the placement and shaping of the material. P2’s intelligence automatically detects the shape and orders of silicone engraving can be delivered quickly with a single operating slot.
  • Lastly, P2 equips its workspace XCS which is so user-friendly and powerful to help people design the best vector image for rubber engraving. Compared to the workspace of OMTech & Gweike, The XCS stands out for its user-friendliness and features. Notably, its AI image processing easily enables users to remove the image background which is a must-do task for rubber engraving since the rubber cannot be engraved with so many details.

Pros

These are the key highlighting points that make the xTool P2 different from other laser cutters.

  • 55W CO2 laser tube which is more powerful than the Glowforge Pro but, comes at a 40% lower price than what Glowforge Pro asks
  • Available with RA2 Pro (rotary attachment), Riser & Motorized pass-through for cutting spherical, larger & thicker materials
  • Smoke purifier available that sucks all the smoke and vents outside with duct fan & exhaust pipe
  • Offers advanced safety features such as fire solution integration ability
  • Can engrave curved material which is the first in the laser engraving market
  • Features two powerful cameras for better focus & monitoring
  • Air assist & water chiller ensure better laser engraving
  • Maximum engraving speed is 600 mm/s which is higher than Glowforge Pro
  • Engraves at a precision of 0.001 & 1000 DPI which makes the engravings more accurate & vibrant
  • Automatically detects the material shape during batch engravings saves users time
  • Offers larger bed size compared to Glowforge & Gweike

Cons

  • xTool is comparably new in the CO2 laser industry so, glass tube replacement services are not declared yet
  • Slate bed offers too much gap between two slates which limits smaller jewelry engravings
  • The exterior is made of plastic but looks great

Omtech Polar co2 laser cutter & engraver

OMTech polar is a less noisy laser engraver suitable for rubber cutting and engraving. This is less noisy than the other laser machine and offers specific wavelength laser power suitable for rubber cutting.

Let’s have a look at how amazing Polar engraves and laser cuts rubber:

Rubber engraving using OMTech Polar

Moreover, the Polar comes with both air assist and water cooling that helps gain better precision and protects the rubber sheets from excessing burning and vapourization.

The Polar offers a bed size of 20.1″ x 11.8″ which is just perfect for rubber cutting and engraving. Moreover, the batch processing facility allows the user to make multiple rubber stamps at a time; however, the intelligent shape detection feature is not available in Polar which is only available at the xTool P2.

OMTech Polar key takeaways

Read the detailed review of OMTech Polar here.

Furthermore, the duct fan of the Polar increases efficiency that throws the odors away which can be a concerning issue while engraving and cutting rubber sheets.

We highly recommend OMTech Polar after the xTool P2 due to the following benefits.

Pros

  • Faster Engraving Speed
  • Powerful CO2 laser
  • Water Chiller Included
  • Air Assist Included
  • Rotary attachment included
  • Fully enclosed
  • Low Noise (below 70 Decibels)
  • Water chiller included
  • Supports Lightburn
  • Allows pass-through

Cons

  • No Pull-out drawer for easy dust removal
  • Maximum working height without tray is 51 mm which could have been increased by an additional 10 mm.
  • Top lid lifting is not automatic

Gweike Cloud Pro

Gweike cloud pro is a 50W co2 laser, suitable for rubber cutting and engraving. The Gweike was a market shaker due to the fact it was the very first laser that offered all the Glowforge facilities at Glowforge’s half price.

To date, Gweike’s overall review is satisfactory and we strongly recommend Gweike after the Polar and xTool P2.

Gweike cloud Pro Key Takeaways

Pros

  • Air assist is now built-in with the Gwike Cloud Pro which is very essential to control excessive vapourization of rubber items
  • An emergency stop button has been added as an extra measure of safety precautions that protects rubber from overburning and fire
  • Operating noise has been reduced by 9 decibels which is great for regular tasks
  • A ruler has been added to the honeycomb bed so that the crafters can measure benefits from the camera and it helps in the proper positioning of the rubber pieces
  • Machine sealing has been improved directly affects in reducing noises
  • Camera functions and other operating bugs have been updated to offer a better laser engraving & cutting experience
  • Gweike laser engraver can print at a resolution of up to 1000 DPI at full power. This is great when someone needs high-contrast engraving output. However, there might be edge burns to soft materials such as rubber pieces.
  • The Pro model comes with double rotary attachments which enables the laser head to work on uneven materials such as tumblers & Yeti mugs, especially with a rubber shield outside.
  • There would be 18 months of warranty along with 30 days no reason refund facility which takes the laser cutter into the biggest appealing position in the market.
  • The noise would be as max as 70 decibels. (20% lower than the OMTech laser cutters)
  • Gweike is FDA certified and hereby comes with HEPA filter & duct fan. This laser engraver is fully enclosed so the risk of toxic fumes is lesser than the open version of Xtool D1 Pro & AtomStack S20 Pro.
  • There is a built-in cooler that helps the laser beam reduce heat substantially without air assistance.
  • Gweike also allows pass-through which helps the user to feed extra material for larger engraving.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have any mobile app like the xTool P2
  • There has been limited information on whether their desktop applications run smoothly on Mac / Linux.
  • Smaller customer forum than xTool
  • Doesn’t allow any batch processing
  • Doesn’t have a smartphone application to control or oversee the laser engraving activities.

Here’s a rubber engraving example done by the Gweike Cloud Pro:

Rubber engraving using Gweike Cloud Pro

Lightburn Settings for Rubber Engraving

We saw that many people reduce laser power to 10% thinking about the rubber getting harmed by the laser. From our experience, we noticed that you need at least 20% laser power to engrave rubber efficiently using a laser machine.

Below are our best light burn settings if you are doing a rubber stamp with a laser engraver:

Speed – 300 to 350

Maximum power – 20%

Interval time – 0.15 mm

Ramp-off (make it off by default for smaller designs. However, larger works would require a ramp)

For detailed step-by-step instructions – follow this article.

Frequently asked questions

These are the frequently asked questions that may solve some of your queries:

Can you laser engrave rubber?

Yes, rubber can be laser engraved. For example, you can engrave intricate designs or text on a rubber stamp or personalize rubber items like phone cases and watch bands with laser engraving.

What is the best laser for cutting rubber?

CO2 lasers are often preferred for rubber cutting and engraving due to their specific wavelength and the interaction between their beam and the material. We recommend xTool P2 or the OMTech Polar due to its laser quality and other features such as water cooling, air assist, and exhaust fan facility.

Can a CO2 laser cut rubber?

Yes, a CO2 laser can cut rubber. For example, it can cut rubber gaskets used in industrial applications. CO2 lasers are well-suited for this task due to their efficient absorption of the rubber material’s wavelength, enabling precise cutting.

Can you laser engrave silicon rubber?

Yes, silicone rubber can be laser engraved. For example, you can engrave intricate patterns or text on silicone rubber wristbands. Silicone rubber’s ability to absorb CO2 laser wavelengths makes it suitable for laser engraving.

How to clean rubber after laser engraving?

To clean rubber after laser engraving, use a soft brush or compressed air to remove loose debris, dampen a cloth or sponge with isopropyl alcohol (IPA), and gently wipe the engraved area to remove residue.
After engraving a rubber stamp, you can clean it by brushing off loose bits, and then wiping the engraved surface with an IPA-soaked cloth. This process helps maintain the clarity and cleanliness of the engraving.

Conclusion

Rubber laser engraving is tricky. You need to understand the significance of laser power, line interval rate, and engraving speed optimization. We suggest you practice well before you start making the rubber stamps and other engraved items.

Ethan Robert
Ethan Robert

Hi, I'm Ethan.

After graduating from the University of North Dakota, I started knowing the CNC and that becomes my passion.

Earlier, I had fascination of 3d printers, Laser cutters and other CNC machines. Later on, I started analyzing those machine and started blogging on my known things by a different way.

I aim to assist you with the insights of 3d printer, laser engravers and computer printers with the help that you save your money and take the right decision before you purchase any machine.

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