Ever wonder how exactly 3D laser engraving works? There is not a special laser designed specifically for 3D engraving. If we are making 3D samples, we use the same machine to both 3D engrave and also cut out the sample shape; however, 3D laser engraving capability depends on the wattage of the laser and the software.
Lower wattage lasers have a harder time producing that depth and detail and you also need to have good software for running your laser system with the capabilities to read an image like that for production.
The key to 3D laser engraving is to understand the software you are working with. Designing 3D images takes some time, but the end results will be breathtaking. You need to be able to shade your drawing in gray to give the depth desired in your image. A laser system needs to accept true 8-bit grayscale artwork, or 256 different colors of gray for resolution. That means there are 256 different power levels from black to white, which correlates to the 256 different levels of gray between black and white.
There are many brands of software on the market that will allow you to design in 8-bit grayscale. Some of them include: CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. More advanced software includes ArtCAM and Cimigrafi.
—Molly Tabery, Kern Laser Systems