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5-axis Laser FAQ

What files are needed for 5-axis laser ablation, and which file formats are acceptable?

  • For 5-axis laser applications, 3D files of all molds requiring ablation are required. For 3-axis applications, 3D drawings are preferred, but 2D drawings are acceptable.
  • Rhino (3dm), STEP 214 and sldprt formats are preferred, but STEP, IGES and most other 3D formats are accepted. Please follow up with your representative to confirm the format you would like to send.

What size molds can the 5-axis laser accommodate?

  • The maximum mold capacity is approximately 9’+ x 13’+ x 5′ (3000 x 4000 x 1500 mm) (W x L x H)
  • The maximum weight capacity for laser texture is 25 tons

Can you laser ablate texture on embossing rolls?

  • Yes. However, the maximum 4-axis ablation area for embossing rolls is determined by combining the overall roll length, roll body diameter
  • Please contact your Custom Etch representative to determine if laser ablation is the right application for your roll texturing project.

Does Custom Etch have patterns I can use?

  • Yes. Custom Etch has a large library of industry standard textures and unique patterns from which to choose.

My print specifies a pattern number from another texture house. Can Custom Etch match it?

  • Yes. Custom Etch can cross reference any pattern number in the industry.

What is required to produce a new, custom pattern?

  • Patterns can be developed utilizing virtually any natural material, such as leather, wood, and stone.
  • Please contact your Custom Etch representative to discuss your particular project and all the options available to you.

Which materials work best with laser mold texturing?

  • aluminum (highest ablation rate)
  • steel (medium ablation rate)
  • titanium (medium ablation rate)
  • stainless steels (medium ablation rate)
  • pre-hardened steels (medium ablation rate)
  • tungsten Carbide (medium ablation rate)
  • platinum (medium ablation rate)
  • nickel (medium ablation rate)
  • copper (low ablation rate)
  • brass (low ablation rate)

It is strongly recommended that molds producing mating parts be constructed from the same material, to ensure the best possible texture match.

If a mold is going to contain a combination of two or more materials (e.g., P-20 & 420 stainless), can I be assured that the texture will not be visibly different?

  • Yes. Utilizing the accuracy of 3D software, and the precise level of detail achievable by the ytterbium fiber laser, different materials can be isolated for specific ablation cycles.

What procedure should be followed before welding a texture area?

  • Matching the welding rod or wire to the mold material is the first step to ensuring a good, texture ready weld.
  • Heating the repair area and surrounding material prior to welding will help ensure a good bond.
  • Color matching (normalizing) the weld area with the surrounding material is critical to ensure even etch rates.
  • Always consult your material supplier for welding specifications particular to your material type.

What should be done in the case of texture repairs?

  • Be sure to contact your Custom Etch representative to discuss any mold damage that involves the texture area. We will be glad to assist you with choosing the best repair solution for your specific situation.

How are texture costs estimated?

  • Although mold size is a factor, there are many considerations that affect cost – complexity of texture surface, pattern selection, material type, and turnaround requirements are some examples. For the most accurate cost and time estimate, contact your Custom Etch representative as early as possible with mold and/or part drawings.

What is the average turnaround for your service?

  • Turnaround is based on job complexity, number of parts, production schedule at the time an order is placed, and timeframe for the delivery of parts. Please contact your Custom Etch representative to discuss your particular project.

Common terms used to describe the laser ablation process…

  • Laser mold texturing, laser texture rolls, laser engraving molds, laser engraving rolls, laser texturing, laser engraving, laser textures, mold laser texturing, mold laser engraving


*Ablation: The removal of material from the surface of an object by vaporization