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Foxb Re laser etching

White Fox

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This is really a reply to another thread but I thought it fit better on it's own rather than jumping from topic to topic there.


Foxb, you mentioned


I'm currently making a fur coat - it is sheared shadow nutria with laser etching around the bottom (which is really annoying to match up).


I was just wondering if you had seen how that "Laser Etching" is done. I've often seen it used in both real and faux fur, but there is absolutely no sign of the fur being burned or scorched or melted or anything. I was wondering if you happened to know enough about it to let us know the principal behind how it works. It is obviously done by a huge machine somewhere probably all computer controlled etc. But I would love to at least know the principal behind all of these lasers. Why do they go to one certain depth and then quit working and not cut all of the way through? How do they cut the fur and not melt it or set fire to it?


By the way, that sounds like a beautiful coat that you are making! It sounds like a beautiful and well thought item of the type that the industry needs to get back on it's feet too. An item that fits the life style today. And yes, I can imagine that it would be a Bi%#@ to make everything meet up, etc. ha ha

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It is definitely burned - at least, I'm not sure how it's done by professionals in the fur industry (I just decided to experiment with this with equipment at uni) but I am pretty sure it must be the same or extremely similar, as I get results that are exactly the same as some of the pre-etched furs I've seen in the warehouse.


The way I did it was to use a laser etching machine which is used for all kinds of fabrics. The laser can be used to etch or to cut - it uses vector files from Illustrator to follow a pattern. If you make a design in Illustrator with a thin red line, it will set the laser to its highest setting to cut a clean, razor sharp line. If you make a design with a black fill, it will etch that area - so the laser's heat will be a lot lower so that it doesn't cut right through. My laser etching uses black and grey to make a faded effect - the darker the fill in your design, the stronger the laser and therefore the darker/deeper the etch. If you choose a light grey for a shape in the Illustrator file, it will etch more gently.


It smelled terrible when I first got it done! But the smell fades quickly. Burnt bits of fur brush off in seconds leaving only the underlayer, which is darkened and cut shorter but doesn't have a charred look or feel to it.


I have seen pictures of it done so that it isn't darkened, like right at the bottom of this page: https://www.sagafurs.com/wps/portal/sagafurs/fashion_home/creativity/dressing_info

However, if you look at the leather side of the fur laser etched on the same page a bit further up, you will see that the texture of the leather is definitely burned. I have two theories as to how they are doing the fur side so that it doesn't change colour when it is etched:


a) they are etching a pale coloured fur then dying it dark afterwards

b) they have a very specific laser etching machine that can be calibrated more efficiently than the one I have at uni - this may particularly be the case when it comes to laser etching the leather side of the fur, because I have tried laser etching leather and it is INCREDIBLY difficult - the fur would provide some stability but even so, laser etching will sear the leather and cause it to buckle somewhat (think about meat in a pan) which will unfocus the laser and result in an uneven design.


The laser fires very, very short bursts as it moves along - it looks like it is flashing. It acts like a big printer firing 'dots' of burning instead of dots of ink. Fur doesn't have time to catch fire - but a light fabric belonging to one of my friends was set on fire pretty quickly and burned up; I guess it couldn't handle the heat (or perhaps the fibres that are floating around inside being hot are more likely to ignite a fine fabric).


I hope the coat will work well. It is absolutely awful trying to match up the laser etched pattern, which is a houndstooth. It isn't going to be perfect and it would have been better to have been able to sew the bottom of the coat then laser etch the whole thing in one, but unfortunately our laser etching machine is very small and I had to do each skin individually. Still, I can try and it should still be eye catching!

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When one talks about laser etching, I immediately think of very intricate, lattice-like working of fur into tiny strips, as shown in the following Saga furs page:



But I suppose you don't need lasers to cut fur precisely in this fashion, right? So I would think laser etching would be done more for the purpose of giving a 3D texture to the fur or making some patterns on the leather side without cutting it.

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That's right. Lattice-like fur work can be done with a furrier's knife (not easily, mind - it's fiddly - but it can be done!). This type of knife is probably the sharpest and most precise type of tool I have ever had the pleasure of using.

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