This week, Jennifer and I have been super busy preparing for Show of Hands in Chicago. We’ll be there at the Isette booth (come visit if you’re local) and will be selling Jennifer’s work from Isette and a I’ll have a selection of wooden products from Pixelaser. But because we’ve been so busy with prep, I haven’t had a chance to really prepare a project of our own this week. Thankfully, the folks at Eagle Engraving had some materials they wanted to test engraving on but have been too busy to process: fleece blankets.
Eagle provided two fleece blankets, one with a Maltese fire department emblem already engraved onto it, and a similar blank fleece blanket from a different provider. The Maltese example was allegedly laser engraved, so it stands to reason we should be able to recreate the look of it with our available laser power.
Since I was planning on keeping the fleece blanket I engraved, I wanted to choose a design more appropriate for me than a fire department Maltese. I chose the logo that appears at the end of Super Metroid, which came back up on my radar when I was engraving Super Metroid tool icons into magnets last week.
I don’t spend a lot of time engraving fabrics, but I knew fleece wouldn’t require that much power to engrave. This was good, because I was asked to determine how quickly the material can be engraved—to keep costs down should it be a product in the future. With this in mind, I started by setting my raster engraving density to its lowest setting, which meant that the laser would be leaving quite a bit of space between each raster-engraved horizontal line. I assumed this would be fine because of the material’s sparse fibers. Then I set the laser power setting to only 10% (my laser is 40w, for reference).
I then had to make sure I folded the blanket very evenly so that it would fit in the laser bed and retain a flat surface. Even at low powers, I was worried about the engraving issues having an uneven surface would cause, so while getting out all of the little folds and lumps took some time, it was time well spent.
A quick test engraving in an inconspicuous area let me know that this was too low, so I gave it another test at 35%, which resulted in an engraving very similar to the one featured on the Maltese blanket. One full size, 12″ square engraving later, and I now have my Super Metroid fleece blanket, just in time for Summer. Hah!