Die Cut or Laser Cut?

I found these beautiful cut paper wedding invitations and I would love to create something very similar. Do you think this was a crazy complicated die or was it laser cut or something else? Do you think you could create this on paper that you could letterpress the text? Sorry If I’m being ignorant about how this works. It’s really beautiful and I would love to recreate something for my future sister in laws wedding. Hope someone can point me in the right direction.


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I think you would have to letterpress it first, and then laser cut.

You really need to find a laser cutter who is capable of handling paper with a degree of precision and process control.

In New York, I recommend prplmnt (seems he has internet presence too, so perhaps you can do it through the mail)
http://prplmnt.com/ I know other printers have seen success with his services, and witnessed it on jobs I interfaced with others on.

But regardless of who you go with, make sure they can handle paper- unless you like deeply burned edges and a trail of soot across the paper. You’ll need to have someone handle the laser end of the production with care; I’ve been experimenting with cutting paper on a laser cutter lately and it’s a very finicky thing.
Stock to stock there are very big differences, and whether it’s made of cotton or wood plays into some of the slight variations in the process of actually setting the laser up and the way it runs is crucial to the outcome of the pieces.

Laser cutters function in 2 main ways (intensity and speed) and another category (frequency); intensity of beam is basically the power level of the beam, and rate of movement is the speed, and frequency of beam will matter but is something we best not get into- your laser cutter operator will know what to do there. It’s super technical.

Anyway, intensity of beam is going to need to change a lot based on the material and thickness.
Then there is the speed at which the laser moves- essentially, how quickly it travels as it cuts. The faster the laser ‘moves’ the more intense you would think the beam should be, but good laser engravers are capable of following the same path twice with a high degree of precision- so you could conceivably take small amounts of material off and make multiple passes until you got through to the other side.

For example- With thick cotton paper, I found that slower cuts with lighter beam intensity actually worked better than faster cuts with higher beam intensity, and by better I mean it resulted in cleaner cuts and even when I engraved paper with a dither pattern it was cleaner.
I suspect that this is because it was cleaner and the compressor was able to ‘clean’ the furrow out as the laser moved more efficiently, and the soot was carried off more efficiently as well because there was less of it at any given time.

(I only did a smattering of tests on a borrowed laser engraver, but I found it to be an interesting enough process that I’m now looking into getting one for the shop. For now I can still go and borrow the epilogue at Resistor, but I’m still looking into what to get and how I would workflow it, and really also how well it would fit into our business model/how much use it would see. So far I can’t totally justify the cost unless it replaces something else.)

Thanks for the great information! This will help a lot!

I agree with HavenPress. Paper is super finicky with a laser cutter. A few years ago, I cut my sister’s wedding invitations using a laser cutter. It turned out great with just a hint of brown at the cut edges. I will say, they have NOT aged well at all. 3 years later, the cut edges are all extremely yellow and look like they are bleeding into the paper.

I used a cotton rag paper, so I’m not sure if you would achieve better results with a less fibrous paper. I think it will be a balance to try to find a paper that works well with both the laser and letterpress techniques.

Yeah, and there are lots of artists who have embraced lasering paper in the fine art world. It will be interesting to see how those projects fair as time moves on, without having seen a true archiving test or knowing the long term effects.

Here’s a rather expensive example by my friend Scott Campbell. I think if there’s any degradation which will occur in time from the laser process, he’d likely be all for it.


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Hah. Funny, I only met him a few months ago but I love his work. He’s been working with the robot fabricators next door on some sort of similar projects.