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Wood laser cutting and wood laser engraving

For plywood, MDF, balsa wood and many other types of wood

MetaQuip lasers are extremely suitable for laser cutting and laser engraving of wood. For example, for toys, decorative items, artistic adaptations, souvenirs, Christmas decorations, gifts, architectural models and furniture makers.

Suitable woods for laser cutting

The materials below are suitable types of wood for laser cutting and of course also for laser engraving of wood.

  • Veneer wood Solid wood
  • Balsa wood Beech wood
  • Alder wood Fine wood
  • Cedar wood Real wood
  • MDF
  • Solid lumber
  • Natural wood

How does wood laser engraving and wood laser cutting work?

Wood laser cutting or wood laser engraving has a very high processing speed. Patterns are imaged or cut with great precision. Once, 10 times or 100,000 times. The laser burns the wood very locally, resulting in very smooth edges. There is some soot on the edges, but that can easily be avoided with the right preparation or can be removed properly afterwards. Wood carving lasers from MetaQuip can cut or engrave the most complex objects and patterns. Laser cutting of wood or laser engraving does not produce chips like sawing wood or CNC milling. 3D operations, on the other hand, are more difficult to realize because the laser normally cuts all the way through the (plate) material.

Triplex laser engraving laser cutting cup holder metaquip
Laser cutting of wood (plywood) and laser engraving
Plywood-poplar laser engraving-close-up
Laser engraving of wood with CO2 laser machine

Want to get a quote, demonstration or your own material? 

You are most welcome to see whether laser technology is a suitable solution for your cutting application or application. Bring your digital design or material to a demonstration and we can view the result on the spot. Of course you can also send it.

How does wood laser cutting work?

You create a digital design of what you want cut out. You can read this file in the laser machine. Then place the material and start the laser process. The higher the power and the lower the speed, the thicker the material you can cut. That is why we recommend a higher laser power for cutting thicker material. If the speed is too slow, the cutting edge can melt and burn, so a too low speed is not recommended.

Laser machines give you flexibility to laser cut different designs quickly.

Wood modeling laser cutting with CO2 laser machine. Laser cutting wood.

How does wood laser engraving work?

Laser engraving of wood is also done with a CO2 laser, but with a much lower power, so that only the top layer is roughened / discolored or locally burned. The engraving is a bit darker than the surroundings on most types of wood, which makes it easy to see. It is also possible to color the engraving after engraving.

Low power is therefore required for laser engraving. Laser machines with a high laser power cannot be set precisely at the low laser powers and are therefore less suitable for laser engraving wood.

You make a vector drawing, logo or design with a graphics program, which you then send to the laser machine. You place the material and start the laser process. Depending on the complexity and size of the image, you will have your engraving within 5-45 minutes. With a CO2 galvo machine, this duration can be reduced by factors, which can be interesting for serial work.

Wood laser engraving with high resolution CO2 laser lens. Laser engraving wood.
Laser engraving with high resolution CO2 laser lens

Does wood burn during laser cutting?

In the cutting play of the material, the laser will produce a temperature rise that is higher than the sublimation temperature of the wood. The "sudden vapor" or sublimation means that the wood is visible in the form of vapor that escapes at a rapid rate. This vapor also transports the generated heat away from the wood. Thus, there is relatively low thermal load on the material near the cutting clearance. Fine quality cuts can be produced by accurate focusing and selecting suitable optics and by providing compressed air. The brown cutting edges can often be effectively used in the design.

Can any kind of wood be cut or engraved with the laser?

Because wood is a natural material, the laser user must observe different characteristics, such as the density and the resin of the wood. Soft woods, such as balsa wood, require a lower laser power and can be cut at a higher speed. Hard wood, as an example of dense woods, requires a higher laser power. When working with MDF, which consists of glued wood fibers, we use compressed air.

Do I have to attach the material to the work surface?

No. The laser exerts no pressure on the wood during the process; clamping or any other form of fastening is therefore not necessary. You only need to enter the workpiece and start the laser process. This saves time and money during the preparation of the material. In contrast to the milling of wood, the boards must be clamped in position and often also fixed by means of a vacuum.

Processing wood with CO2 laser machines

For cutting wood, leather, and a large number of plastics, you have one CO2 laser machine required. Important things to keep in mind are: what is the maximum size of the object that I want to cut out, that determines the size of your worktop and what is the maximum thickness that has to be cut that determines the laser power you need.

CO2 laser machine production
CO2 production laser machine

Laser cutting of large sheets of wood

MetaQuip has the so-called portal laser machines for laser cutting (and sometimes laser engraving) of large sheets of wood. These are often used for thicker sheet material and therefore have a higher laser power and are available in different sizes.

CO2 portal laser machine

Production wood laser engraving

It is possible to make larger series with a CO2 LITE or production machine, but the laser head scans the entire object completely. This takes time. For serial placement of logos and smaller images, a CO2 galvo machine is usually used. It has no moving parts and uses a metal tube which guarantees a longer uptime. The biggest advantage is the extremely high engraving speed. Wood laser engraving in large volumes.

CO2 galvo laser engraving machine
Engraving of bamboo phone cases with Galvo CO2 laser machine