How to Figure Out the Best Laser Settings for Different Substrates

When preparing to engrave on a new product or material for the first time, the operator should dedicate the first product or test piece of material to running a laser power grid.

Rowmark laser power grid
(Chart courtesy Rowmark)

A laser power grid typically consists of a matrix of engraved squares arranged in a grid pattern. The grid pattern is best arranged as an XY coordinate-style table.  The X-axis (left to right) represents an increase in laser power.  The Y-axis (up and down) represents an increase in laser speed. At the origin point of the table (top left), the speed/power settings are at their least intense (slowest speed/lightest power). At the opposite end of the origin point (bottom right) of the grid, the speed/power settings are the most intense (highest speed/highest power). All other engraved squares within the matrix show all speed/power combinations in between the two extremes. The top right of the matrix will likely show the deepest engraving (highest power/slowest speed), and the bottom left of the matrix will likely show a shallow engraving depth (lowest power/highest speed).

The increments between power/speed settings are typically 10% increments; however, these can be adjusted to a lower increment such as 5% or even 1% if the material or product requires extremely precise settings.

The process of running a power grid can be somewhat automated if the laser is equipped with a color mapping feature. When using color mapping, each engraved square uses the RGB color values of that individual square to assign a power/speed setting for that square.

Rowmark laser power grid
(Chart courtesy Rowmark)

Consult the user manual of your laser for more details on the use of color mapping features.

By running a laser power grid, the laser will show you exactly what setting combination or range of setting combinations work best on that particular product or material.


George Privateer

George is the content and media manager for Rowmark, a manufacturer of engravable sheet plastic for the awards, engraving, and signage markets.

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