View Full Version : laserable laminate material for raised detail?

David Fairfield
03-02-2010, 10:47 PM
I'm working on a design that would require a fine, raised bump pattern on a smooth part.

Lasering away the background to leave the raised pattern would take way too much time, and also leave a grainy surface. The pattern is too precise to apply by hand and too complex to use a peel-and-stick material, or make a stencil.

So I'm wondering is there some sort of heat-activated laminate, thick paint, wax, or powder that I can place over the part, laser the pattern into, then remove all but the lasered areas?


Niklas Bjornestal
03-03-2010, 5:59 AM
It might be possible to use enamel (the link below is to a swedish page translated by google)
http://translate.google.se/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&u=http://www.slojd-detaljer.se/product.aspx%3Fproductid%3D3733%26deptid%3D338&ei=9zSOS9DRM5WK-AbYo4n0DQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CCMQ7gEwBw&prev=/search%3Fq%3DKaromail%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26cli ent%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3DQOR%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:sv-SE:official

It has a melting point of 100C so it might be possible to sprinkle it on the surface, laser it and than just remove the rest.

Dee Gallo
03-03-2010, 8:16 AM
Dave, could this be a place to try embossing powder?

:) dee

Rodne Gold
03-03-2010, 10:08 AM
What exactly are you trying to do? There might be another solution to your dillema.

Martin Boekers
03-03-2010, 10:22 AM
I think Dee may have the answer, although we dont know exactly what you are doing.

It's easy to have a stamp made of the pattern you are looking for and the use the powders.

Another idea may be to use a thin sheet of aluminum and "press it" with a die, that you could laser, like a template so it could be used over again without having to burn each individual piece. Sort of like the old tin cieling tiles.


David Fairfield
03-03-2010, 11:42 AM
I'm making accessory parts for a vehicle model, so for example, some of them have this no skid pattern, and they have a complex outline.


I realize this could be photoetched, however, due to the scale and thickness, it is cost prohibitive. So I'm wondering if the laser can be used in some efficient way to put the pattern on cardstock and cut the outline.

This embossing powder looks interesting, but registration would be an issue if I used it the traditional way with stamp and heat gun. Has anybody tried it, or similar, using the laser?


Mark Ross
03-03-2010, 11:46 AM
Those parts in that picture are stamped in a big press. Is that the exact look you are going after? That material is stocked all over the place as is.

Oh wait, I missed the word model, so your dilema is scaling it down and getting the look?

David Fairfield
03-03-2010, 11:57 AM
Hi Mark

Yes, small for a scale model, but not small enough to photo etch economically. And thin, but not thin enough to use pressed aluminum, plus the outlines are complex, so its a cutting issue, too. Its a conundrum. :)

At least the parts will be painted, so they don't need to be metallic.


Dav1d Beck
03-03-2010, 12:41 PM
I wonder if you could make a mold since its a model you might be able to invert it create a mold for the pattern and melt a low melting plastic into it forming the detail your looking for?

Rodne Gold
03-03-2010, 1:28 PM
Actually , the mould idea is a good one , with a twist. do it in flat perspex in reverse , as per a mould and use a cardstock with a burnishing tool to create the raised sections (raised when you remove after burnishing) , you could use thin brass or copper shimstock too if you want a metal.
Or alternatively create a male and female "seal" out of deldrin and use a seal pliers to imprint the cardstock or whatever thin substrate you require.

Dave Johnson29
03-03-2010, 1:58 PM

If it is exactly the diamond plate you need then I have seen that somewhere in miniature for model trains I think it was. If you are only using the diamond plate as an example, then I am afraid I can't help.

I can't recall exactly where I saw it but it was only a few weeks back.

Dan Hintz
03-03-2010, 2:28 PM
If you do decide to make them out of metal...

Make a mask of the bumps using the laser, then powder-coat through the mask. Run that through the oven and the paint should have enough thickness to give you the scale texture you desire.

David Fairfield
03-03-2010, 5:44 PM
Hm, metal is only an option if I outsourced, rather do the whole thing in house. I could make a casting but rather eliminate that step as it adds manual labor and time I'd have to charge for. The stencil concept might work though. I'll try a couple of ideas and if any work, I'll post it here!

Thanks for all the ideas! :)

Any more? :D


David Fairfield
03-04-2010, 8:48 AM
The idea I started with is that there is some sort of transfer material, that I could heat up with the laser on the upper surface, and it would then melt and solidify to whatever material was underneath. Similar to the way that iron-on T shirts are made.

The process is called thermal transfer


I just need a transferrable material that has some thickness. Any ideas there?


Dee Gallo
03-04-2010, 9:02 AM

What about vinyl, as used for signage - it comes in metallic finishes and has a slight thickness. Small pieces can be cut, weeded and transferred easily with transfer tape. You could even layer 2 tones for a more 3D illusion.

:) dee

Doug Griffith
03-04-2010, 11:25 AM
Rodne's methods sound good to me for small runs. If I was to approach this for production, I'd go with pressure formed sheet and then laser the shapes. Essentially vacuum forming on the tool side with a pressure "chamber" on the opposite side. You can get remarkable detail with this method. Tooling is costly though.

I'm curious what gauge do you plan on using?

George D Gabert
03-04-2010, 12:31 PM
Could you just vacuum form thin acrylic sheet maybe .005 or .015 thick. That way you could make a full sheet of dimpled stock and cut out the shape you need with the laser.


David Fairfield
03-04-2010, 12:52 PM
These are really good ideas, thanks everyone!

I'd still like to explore some sort of applique or thermal transfer as it would simplify a lot of things, especially for a production run item. Major problem with vac form, besides the extra labor, is registration. Some of the raised bits need to line up precisely with the part edges, and the edges are complicated shapes.

If I can get the job done running one file on the laser, that would be ideal! Might be possible.