Laser-Engraving Faux Wood into Precision Board HDU

A customer contacted us wondering if they could create a faux wood pattern on Precision Board HDU using their laser system.  They did not own a CNC and were trying to get a competitive advantage with what they had in house for equipment.  We reached out to our friends at Trotec Laser and asked them to have a go at creating a woodgrain look on Precision Board HDU using a laser…and the results are amazing!  Check out the photos and videos below and read more about how they did it.

faux wood

The first step that needed to be tackled was finding woodgrain patterns to program the software with.  Cameron Youngblood, Senior Marketing Specialist with Trotec Laser, searched online to find a collection of woodgrain patterns.

“Finding a high quality image is key to achieving an ideal and realistic end result. We found a few different free images that didn’t require a lot of editing or manipulation in our graphics software,” she says. “There are a couple of different approaches you can take to alter the image into a laser-ready graphic, and some of these approaches are dependent on the image itself. For example, finding an image that has multiple shades of blacks and grays may engrave better as a grayscale image.”

Cameron says more laser engraving power will be applied with the black areas and the power will decrease as you get into the various shades of gray- any white areas on the graphic will not be engraved. The more laser power is applied, the deeper the engraving area will be.

She cautions that it might take the user a little time to test out the settings, but as long as you can get a good image, it’s definitely possible to program your laser system to engrave a faux wood pattern into Precision Board HDU.

“Since the images we tested were black and white, we opted to use the color mapping option in our JobControl® laser software,” Youngblood said. “Color mapping allows you to assign different actions to each area of your graphic, as well as indicate the order in which each action should take place. In this instance, we used a total of three colors: one color for the deepest engraving, another color for the lighter engraving, and the third color for completely cutting through the material. This allowed us to achieve our preferred contrast between the two different engraving depths.”

Trotec Laser used their Speedy 400 120W CO2 laser on samples of PBLT-15 Precision Board HDU to get a faux wood look.

Here’s the settings info:

  • Engraving (first color) = 90{afbea94bd31582343c3017644f03ec8d7d8fa2386ecb82c250661e06c0c6e111} power, 60{afbea94bd31582343c3017644f03ec8d7d8fa2386ecb82c250661e06c0c6e111} speed, 1000 PPI
  • Engraving (second color) = 30{afbea94bd31582343c3017644f03ec8d7d8fa2386ecb82c250661e06c0c6e111} power, 100{afbea94bd31582343c3017644f03ec8d7d8fa2386ecb82c250661e06c0c6e111} speed, 500 PPI
  • Cutting (third color) = 100{afbea94bd31582343c3017644f03ec8d7d8fa2386ecb82c250661e06c0c6e111} power, 5.2{afbea94bd31582343c3017644f03ec8d7d8fa2386ecb82c250661e06c0c6e111} speed, 2000 Hz

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while our material database contains recommended settings for almost every type of material, the user may prefer to alter those settings to their own liking,” she adds.

There are quite a few benefits to using a laser system to create dimensional signage.

  • Smaller vacuum system for smoke removal
  • No need for dust collector
  • Smaller-sized machines takes up less shop space
  • Effluent/smoke coming off Precision Board HDU is NOT toxic (see more info below)
  • Generally lower price point for machines

You may be wondering if the smoke that comes off Precision Board HDU from laser-cutting is harmful or toxic.  It’s not.  We wanted to ensure that the effluent byproducts of Precision Board did not exceed OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL), federal regulations that dictate safe chemical exposure levels, so we had Universal Laser Systems test several densities of our material.  Universal Laser Systems used a sophisticated RTGA Mass Spectrometer and a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the levels of effluent at all times during testing. They noted the following in their report: “The concentration of the detected compounds did not exceed their respective OSHA PEL at any level of filtration during this study.”  You can read more about the testing HERE.

Find out more by watching the videos on our YouTube Channel showing different woodgrain patterns being laser-engraved onto our PBLT-20 and PBLT-30 densities of Precision Board HDU.

You may also be considering using a laser to create a sandblasted sign look without actually sandblasting it.  Creating a sign this way could potentially mean that you wouldn’t have to worry about:

  • Strict environmental regulations around sandblasting
  • The use of a grain frame
  • Using a blast mask to designate where sand should and should not hit the substrate
  • Wearing a suit or helmet to protect against sand particle ricochets
  • Purchasing a system to filter sand particles out of the air

Check out our resource page to read more about Laser-Engraving of Precision Board HDU, including our toxicity testing (Precision Board is non-toxic), as well as more videos and settings information for cutting or engraving Precision Board HDU.

You can request free samples and try creating a faux wood look on our HDU!  For technical questions on the use of lasers, please contact Trotec via the website link below.

Trotec Laser is a leading international provider of advanced, high-speed laser equipment for cutting, engraving and industrial marking, and a wide selection of engraving supplies. Trotec was originally founded in Wels, Austria in 1997 and established in the United States in Mississippi in 2002. Now headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, the U.S. business has grown to 10 times its original size.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane sign material that is particularly effective for making professional-looking indoor and outdoor dimensional signs.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samplesget a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.