Which Materials Are Not Suitable For Laser Engraving

Which Materials Are Not Suitable For Laser Engraving

If you own a hobby laser cutter, or engraver, it’s incredibly important to know the risks and dangers that come along with such a sophisticated (and expensive) machine.  In this article, we are going to be looking at which materials should not be considered for laser engraving.

Hobby Laser Engraving

            Hobby laser engraving and cutting has become a more popular practice, as CO2 laser machines are more available to the average consumer..  While still boasting a hefty price tag, if you have an interest in personalizing pieces of metal, owning one of these machines are within reason.  They are perfect for adding personalized logos or designs onto metal and wood.

What’s The Risk?

            Many materials are not fit for laser engraving because they give off harmful gas or dust.  These gasses can result in anything from mild skin irritation to life-threatening effects.  Use special precaution when engraving anything fire-retardant, as they often contain chromium.  The gas given off by chromium is a know carcinogen.  Always use your laser cutter in an open, well-ventilated area. Click here!

Unsure Of The Materials?

            If you are ever unsure about the materials in a piece you want to engrave, chances are there are a few places you can take it to for testing.  Doing a quick Google search of “metal testing” should bring up a few places.  Chances are if they’re not able to perform this service, they will know who can.  If this fails, try contacting the manufacturer of your laser cutter for extra information.

Unsafe Materials For CO2 Laser Machines

            The following is a partial list of materials that are not fit for laser engraving in regular circumstances.  Their effects range from minor to major, but none should be considered for use with your machine.  For more information, contact a company like Trotec, or a metal testing lab.

-Leather and Artificial Leather

-Carbon Fibers

-Polyvinyl Chloride

-Polyvinyl butyrale


-Beryllium oxide

-Any materials containing halogens, or epoxies


Similarly, caution should be used with the following materials, but they are not considered as dangerous as the previous list.








            Always exercise extreme caution when using a laser machine.  If you are ever the least bit unsure about the materials in a piece set for engraving, contact a professional for instruction or testing.  Furthermore, do not consider the above list as comprehensive.  For more information on the health effects of using a laser cutter on these materials, consult a WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), or OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) certified resource. Learn more details at: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-laser-engraving-business-17264.html