Wood must be processed using the 10.6µm wavelength. When marking most wood types significant depth and contrast can be achieved at quite high speed.
It’s important to select the wood type according to the desired end result. Wood with a high oil content, such as cherry wood, will engrave cleanly with high contrast. For marking/engraving applications it is better to select close grained wood types as wide variations in the grain density and colour can interfere with the overall visual effect after marking.
When marking man-made wood, such as veneered MDF or plywood, undesirable effects can occur should the laser penetrate too deep into the material. This is often caused by the glue or resins resisting the lasing process, causing inconsistent results. Careful selection of ‘laser friendly’ man-made woods can minimise this.
Natural hard wood is one of the most beautiful of all materials that can be laser engraved.
Wood is probably the second most common material to cut by 10.6µm laser. Limitations in thickness are determined by system configuration (especially optical config) and available laser power.
Almost all wood will char or darken to some degree when cut by laser. In some cases surface staining occurs and it is necessary to temporarily cover the surface of the wood with protective paper or even lightly sand it after laser processing.
Where surface finishing is required, for example oiling or lacquering, such finishes should be applied before laser processing. Man-made wood can often suffer from excessive edge charring during cutting. This can be minimised by careful material selection and cutting at higher speeds using a laser with a higher powered source. Thin wood veneers can warp during cutting. This can be prevented by using a system with a strong underside exhaust, which also contributes to a cleaner cut edge and reduced system maintenance.