What Is the Difference Between Laser Etching and Engraving – 2023 Guide

As you know, living in a world of modern technology has different advantages and disadvantages. Fortunately, the “advantage list” is much longer compared to the other one. Because of that, many businesses around the world will gladly accept to add technology to their business.

In today’s world, people often decide on using the laser for different purposes. One of the reasons why they use it is to create images, designs, and markings in a particular material. However, there are also different processes they are using to accomplish the task like that.

You have probably heard about laser etching and engraving many times so far. At first glance, all these terms seem similar and people usually believe that they are the same. Yet, that is not quite the truth. Believe it or not, both terms refer to different processes when we talk about image or design creation. They all have a different distinct profile of risks, applications, and requirements.

The benefits and characteristics they possess will tell you which process works better for your requirements. Because of that, it is crucial to understand what is the difference between laser etching and engraving. We would like to highlight some of the biggest ones that will provide you with many answers. There is no need for any additional explanations. Let’s get to the point!



We are sure that versatility is an important feature for all the people that plan to use these processes. Fortunately, both of them allow you to use them with a huge number of different materials.

When we talk about laser engraving, you can effectively use it for almost every material that exists. For instance, you can use it for wood, leather, metals, glass, and plastics. Additionally, some businesses decide on using it for some softer materials like paper.

On the other hand, the laser etching process influences the surface of the materials. The opportunity like that leads to reflectivity and enhancing contract. As we said, you will manage to work with a wide range of materials. However, some of the best ones are stainless steel, polymers, ceramics, anodized or bare aluminum. In some cases, you might manage to use it for plated metals as well.



It doesn’t truly matter what is the reason of why you want to use these processes. You might want to create an art project and sell it to people. Some people prefer to apply traceability marking to a jet propeller. Whichever reasons you have, we are sure that you want that your laser markings last for a longer time. Because of that, you must pick the process that will perfectly match your requirements and expectations.

When we talk about laser engraving, it is a perfect choice for items that will potentially experience high wear. On the other hand, lase etching the design in some jewelry won’t pay off in the end. The item is going to fade quickly if you actively touch its surface. That happens that because the depth is usually around 0.0001 inches.

Engraving an item with a laser allows you to make deeper cuts. Because of that, you will manage to create markings that will last longer. The material you plan to engrave is irrelevant. Yet, we don’t want to say that everything around laser engraving is perfect. It is recommendable that you don’t use it for safety-critical parts. By using it for that purpose, you might damage the engraved part.

To conclude, durability is the feature of laser engraving. If you are a big fan of laser-etched markings, then you should use it on surfaces that will experience lower levels of wear and tear.

The Power of the Laser


The experts use the same laser machine to make the cuts. However, the beginners don’t understand very well how they manage to make different cut depths. Because of that, you should know that cut depths depend a lot on laser power.

Let’s use laser engraving machines as an example. The most modern ones come with the specific software that allows you to control the machine and laser power. In every moment, you can change the laser settings and adapt them to your needs. For instance, you can set up the movement speed of the laser. Despite that, the program allows you to customize the number of passes that the laser makes.

As we previously said, the laser engraving process has the potential to make the deepest cuts. More precisely, it can vaporize the material that you plan to engrave. Because of that, the entire process requires the usage of the high-heat laser. If you get the opportunity, you will see that all engravers strive to achieve the maximal power of the laser. They know very well that is the only way to get the best possible results. That especially counts when we talk about some robust materials like stainless steel or anodized aluminum.

Cut Depth


We repeated the “cut depth” many times through this article. However, it would be good to pay more attention to that part. Seeing the difference between laser etching and engraving is not as easy as you might think. However, under a microscope, you will manage to see the different easier.

We already said that engraving removes more material and makes deeper cuts. Because of the cone-shaped indentations that every laser contains, you can easily deepen the process by passing through the same area many times. However, there is one thing that we need to highlight here important for every person that plans to work with lasers. The maximal engraving depth is around 0.020 inches when we talk about metals. On the other hand, the maximal depth for softer materials is around 1/8 of the inch. These are the rules you should not forget.

On the other hand, things are different with laser etching. With the process like that, you will male much shallower cuts in the material. That is a logical scenario because the laser, in this case, only vaporizes the surface. Believe it or not, the total depth that you can make with laser etching is maximally 0.001 inches.



It is hard to say which of these two products is better. The answer depends on the expectations that you have. However, it seems that businesses would be more interested in laser engraving because of the benefits it can bring. Because of that, we recommend you visit websites like and get familiar with the subject. You can also see which services they offer and potentially start a collaboration with them.

Written by Philip Goguen

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