laser engraving settings xtool M1

Laser Engraving Settings

I have to admit, when I first got my xTool M1 I was a little nervous about get the correct laser engraving settings. I started searching online hoping to find a cheat sheet or list that would just tell me what power, speed and number of passes to use for different materials.

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First I went to the xTool website, and they do have a page for material settings, but the list is for just the products that they sell. While I was disappointed, the more I thought about it, it makes sense. Why would they want to tell you the settings to use on a product you are going to buy from someone else.

I didn’t give up! I visited websites of other crafters that had a xTool M1 machine, and I did find some settings and suggestions. I was so happy! I set up my machine and started engraving and guess what . . .

The suggested settings did not work! I did more research and found out that while I was trying to engrave on a leather patch, just as this other crafter was doing, there could be differences between the different types of patches. For example, the one I was attempting to engrave had a metallic layer under the surface, so it needed different settings.

I felt so defeated! I was spinning my wheels spending more time searching for the PERFECT settings instead of actually making stuff!

Why is Finding Laser Engraving Settings Frustrating?

The short answer is because there is such a huge difference in the materials and machines out there! If you get a leather patch from one retailer, it might not be exactly the same as a patch from another retailer. Even with the xTool M1 there is a 5 watt and a 10 watt version of the machine, so you would need different settings.

Since I have the xTool M1 10w I am going to create the type of list I was looking for! That way you will not have to waste time spinning your wheels like I did. If you purchase the same products I do you will be able to learn from my trial and errors.

What to Know about xTool M1 Laser Engraving Settings

The laser engraving settings of power, speed, and number of passes play crucial roles in achieving desired results. Understanding and optimizing these settings allow users to achieve precise and desired results with their laser engraving machine, whether it’s for creating intricate designs, markings, or cutting through various materials.

Here’s an explanation of what these settings mean:

  • Power:
    • Definition: Power refers to the intensity of the laser beam emitted by the engraving machine. It is usually measured in percentage or wattage.
    • Role: Higher power levels result in more intense laser beams, which can lead to deeper engraving or cutting. Lower power levels are suitable for lighter engraving or marking.
  • Speed:
    • Definition: Speed represents the rate at which the laser head moves across the material being engraved or cut. It is measured in units like millimeters per second (mm/s) or inches per second (in/s).
    • Role: Faster speeds are ideal for light engraving or marking, while slower speeds provide more dwell time for the laser to interact with the material, leading to deeper engraving or cutting. Speed is inversely proportional to the dwell time.
  • Number of Passes:
    • Definition: The number of passes refers to how many times the laser head goes over the same area during the engraving or cutting process.
    • Role: Increasing the number of passes allows for deeper engraving or cutting, especially when working with denser or thicker materials. It is a way to control the overall depth of the engraving.

What Does All Of That Mean?

That was a lot of information, but if you are like me you are thinking “What does all of that really mean?” When it comes to laser engraving machines, you need to think about how all of these differen pieces come together.

  • Higher Power, Slower Speed, More Passes: This combination is suitable for cutting through thicker materials or achieving deeper engravings. It provides more energy and time for the laser to interact with the material.
  • Lower Power, Faster Speed, Fewer Passes: This combination is effective for light engraving or marking. It minimizes the impact on the material’s surface while still creating visible markings.

Another xTool user gave me a really good analogy that I want to share with all of you.

Think about ironing clothing, and think of Power as how hot the iron is. If you want a hard crease line on a work shirt or pants, you are going to increase the power, or heat of the iron. You might move the iron slowly and go over the same spot several times.

But if you wanted to make a crease in a more delicate fabric you would turn the heat down really low so you do not burn the material. You might also go faster to help avoid scorching and burning.

What are the Perfect Laser Engraving Settings?

If you own the xTool M1 10w then you might want to bookmark this page. Each time I test out a new product and discover the best settings I will be adding to this list. I will link directly to the products I used so you can be sure you are purchasing the exact same items.

Products from Crafted Supplies

Any time that you are shopping at Crafted Supplies, be sure to use coupon code SHAWNMOSCH at checkout!

Reminder: These settings are what worked best for me using the xTool M1 10W machine.

Small Beech Cutting Board Power 50 / Speed 50 / Pass 1
Leather Patch range from Power 1 / Speed 80 / Pass 1 up to Power 19 / Speed 75 / Pass 1
For more details about this range, please read the What If the Laser Engraving Settings Are Not Listed section below.

Other Products and Items

I have also used my xTool M1 to engrave other random things, which I will list out below.

xTool M1 laser engraving settings for wood

This handmade cribbage board was made out of 1 PE Wood.

Power 70 / Speed 175 / Passes 2

xTool M1 laser engraving settings for wooden ornament

This is a wooden Christmas ornament from the craft store. I did paint it white before I engraved it.

Because this is a school logo with two colors in the logo, I set the sections for one color to just score the outline and the sections for the second color to engrave inside the space.

Power 70 / Speed 150 / Pass 1

xTool M1 laser engraving settings for clay

This is a handmade clay ornament that was fired. I had several of these, so I did try some different settings. This one produced a really nice “shine” that does not show up well in the photo.

Power 60 / Speed 80 / Pass 1

xTool M1 laser engraving settings for clay

This was another one of the handmade clay ornaments. Again, I engraved them after they had been fired just to test and see if it was even possible. This version was painted after it was engraved, and I feel like it really made the wording pop!

Power 65 / Speed 60 / Pass 1

laser engraving settings xtool M1

This metal name plate was done as a test for a friend, and they loved the way it turned out. They wanted the inside very dark so that is why I increased the power for this piece.

Power 90 / Speed 80 / Pass 1

What If the Laser Engraving Settings Are Not Listed?

I am going to be totally honest with you . . . THIS was the part that had me most nervous! What if I could not find anything to even know where to start! Remember when I started off saying I felt like I was spinning my wheels? And when I mentioned a power/speed setting range, how did I figure out that range?

When you are testing out settings for a material you have never engraved before you should do what is called a Material Test Array. There is even a button for this in the xcs software!

Why is a Material Test Array Important?

Doing a Material Test Array was something I did not really want to do. I just wanted to start making things! I did not want to feel like I was wasting a leather patch just to find the best settings.

But guess what

After totally ruining two patchs, I decided to do a material test array and it turned out it was the best thing I could have done! In the photo below I show the material test array I did for the leather patch. I was shocked! Most of those settings are way too much and were just burning and making a mess of things.

I honestly felt like the numbers and words that show the speed and power look great, and those were set at Power 1 / Speed 80 / Pass 1

I do like the look of the Power 10 / Speed 75 / Pass 1 square and that is probably what I would go with for my personal laser engraving settings, but maybe you want a darker look for your patch. You could go up to the Power 19 / Speed 75 / Pass 1 but anything above that starts to burn the leather and leave soot around the edges of the engraving.

xTool M1 laser engraving settings material test array

Let’s go back to my analogy of ironing clothing, and think of Power as how hot the iron is. By looking at the material test array above, you can see that no matter what speed we go, 60 is too “hot” for the power. I would even go as far as to say that anything over 35 is too much.

So for leather, we need less Power, or less heat in the ironing analogy.

Now let’s look at the laser engraving settings for speed.

For the Speed side of things, 30 is too slow across the entire material test array. To me, 60 is the slowest I would go. So if I were to do a new material test array for this same patch, I would probably do my settings in a range from 1 to 30 for the power, and 60 to 80 for the speed.

Material Test Array xTool Learnings

What I learned from this process is that I have my speed pretty dialed in for using the xTool M1 on a leather patch since I have determined that somewhere between 60 and 80 is what I like. That is only a difference of 20 so that range is pretty small.

For the power I might want to play around with things more since anywhere from a range of 1 up to 30 could be good. Also, there is the factor of personal preference to bring into this. The setting I like might not be the setting that you like, but my main goal of this entire article was to help you stop spinning your wheels and at least feel like you had somewhere to start.

So what questions do YOU have about laser engraving settings? Feel free to drop me a comment and let me know!

Material Test Array xTool Video

How to set up the material test array in the XCS software is much easier explained by seeing the process, so I did make a video for you. You can also find it on my YouTube channel.

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