How to Create Laser Engraved Inlays

Mike Fruciano is a Market Development Manager for Coherent Inc. Mike brings 25 years of laser systems, laser processing, and materials experience, and is a frequent writer and speaker on these topics. Contact Mike at 602-616-4971 or at

Creating custom projects with inlays can be a useful way to increase the value of your products. You can use a variety of materials to achieve this effect including wood thins, plastic engraving sheets, laser foils, shell laminates, alder wood and more. Follow these seven steps to create a unique and lasting inlay gift for your showroom:

  1. Open a new file in CorelDraw. Go to Text>Insert Symbol Character and select the Webdings font and a basic shape from the options available like a heart, for example.
  2. Draw in the symbol to the desired dimension. Select the heart drawn in and duplicate it (Ctrl+D). Leave one with a hairline outline (used for vector cutting) and fill the other heart in (used for raster engraving). Save the file.
  3. Place the alder wood in the laser. The well for the plastic will be engraved first. Select the filled heart. In the print properties, make sure you select Print Selection rather than everything on the drawing canvas.
  4. Select the setting for raster engraving. Using a 40-watt laser, set the speed to 45 percent and power to 100 percent.
  5. If the well is not deep enough for .02-inch thick plastic sheets, take a second pass. Speed is the key to proper engraving depth—the slower the speed, the deeper the engraving. Adhere mounting tape to the plastic sheet and place it in the laser bed.
  6. Select the outlined heart and print only the selection. With a 40-watt laser, set your speed at 30 percent and power at 75 percent.
  7. Remove the backing from the mounting tape and insert the engraved plastic into the well in the alder wood sheet. Clean any residue with a damp cloth.

—Mike Fruciano, Rowmark