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Pad Printing, PlatesSeptember 11, 2011

Can I Etch Laser Plates with my CO2 Laser?

Pad Printing, Plates
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“Can I Etch Laser Plates with my CO2 Laser?” – This is a very common question we get from pad printing companies. Indeed, if a company already has a robust laser engraver, it may be able to enjoy the benefits of fully digitized pad printing plate-making – simply by purchasing the laser plate material and getting some instruction.

The short answer is as follows:

You are likely to get the best results with laser plates if the wattage of your CO2 laser engraver is between 10Watt and 20Watt, and no more than 30Watt.

The longer answer is this:
  1. If your laser has more than 30Watt, you may still get excellent results with the Acculaze plate material, which is designed to handle fine-line graphics only (does not work for bold fonts or open etch areas). To etch Acculaze with a 30+Watt laser engraver, use the lowest power setting and make 2 passes.
  2. For the Imperial and Laser Orange plate material (both of which can handle any type of graphics) you do need the laser wattage to be no more than 30Watts; 10Watt – 20Watt is usually best. With a more powerful laser, the beam diameter (spot size) of the laser is too large to achieve fine etch and sharp prints.
  3. The other major factor that comes into play is your CO2 laser’s software: it will determine how well you can manipulate your graphics files.
  4. Test your laser! We offer laser plate samples and etching guides.
  5. Consult with Inkcups specialist to determine if investing in one of our specialized laser engravers and plate-makers is the right solution for you.
Want to Learn More about pad printing? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Pad Printing Machines
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