Alex Beckingham, applications specialist at laser system manufacturer Trotec, demonstrates just how easy it is to personalise garments using a laser cutter

Traditionally, a range of different techniques has been used for cutting textiles, with one of the most common being knife cutting. The problem with such techniques is that the finished quality is dependent on the accuracy of the person cutting, while the material itself will often be left with frayed edges, making the process a time-consuming one with a risk of wasted material.

Laser cutters offer many advantages over alternative cutting methods. A fast and flexible solution, laser cutters provide pinpoint accurate cuts and engraving while the laser beam seals the cut edges of the textiles and fabrics, leaving no frayed edges. This allows you to scale production and maximise creative time.

Cleaning is a largely simple process for laser-engraved fabrics to give them the final finishing touch. Generally, cleaning textiles can be as simple as the method you would normally use to remove dust.

Denser materials, such as natural leather, may require additional cleaning when processed such as wiping with a damp cloth, however, LaserLeather, Trotec’s synthetic leather, is specially developed for laser processing and requires no special cleaning methods.

The flexibility of laser cutters means that a wide range of textiles and fabrics, both natural and synthetic, can be processed. These include denim, leather, felt, silk and many more, while laser machines can be found in industries from fashion to the automotive sector, producing everything from clothing to technical textiles.

www.troteclaser.com

STEP-BY-STEP: LASER CUTTING AND ENGRAVING

(1) Create your artwork using the Ruby laser software from Trotec, or any commercial drawing package such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. The areas to be engraved are in black, while the cutting path is red.

(2) Once finished, export your finished design as a PDF into the Trotec Ruby software. The power and speed of a Trotec laser can be controlled directly in the software; adjusting settings will achieve different results on fabrics

(3) Duplicate your job for how many units you need to produce, and select your material from the database. We used Trotec’s LaserLeather, which is 0.65mm thick, for this step-by-step

(4) Load the material into the laser cutter; we used the Trotec Speedy 300

(5) Press go and watch your creation come to life. It took three minutes and five seconds to complete all six badges in this design, so around 30 seconds each

(6) Apply your personalised textile to the garment. A fabric glue was used here to attach the badge, but stitching would also work and be long-lasting