Chrome tanned on our laser or not?

After reading for hours on this topic, I still have not found a good answer. Many people have said they have read or they have heard it’s bad on the laser but I found nothing except hearsay. I do understand that the fumes from burning chrome-tanned leather are not good to breathe. We all have our units vented in some way I’m sure. I want to know will it damage my GF or void the warranty if I cut chrome tanned leather? We live in Texas and Leather is a big selling item. Thanks in advance.

I would just stick to VEG tanned leather. Chromium is not to be trifled with.

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Cutting material will not void your warranty unless it contains vinyl, which will corrode your laser and your lungs.

Your warranty states that if you choose to use a non-Proofgrade material in the Glowforge, you take responsibility for any damage that results to the machine and Glowforge will not reimburse you for any material that does not turn out the way you expect. If you use Proofgrade material and the recommended settings and take the required safety precautions, like not leaving the unit without direct supervision while operating, Glowforge will likely cover any repairs and will reimburse you for the material if the machine does not operate per design. This is why the warning shows up when you don’t have a Proofgrade barcode visible and aren’t using Proofgrade settings.

Laser cutting chrome tanned leather releases cyanide gas, which is highly poisonous and potentially lethal. You don’t want to mess around with it. This means you don’t want to vent outside and you don’t want to breathe it. You have to contain it to make sure that everyone around is safe. If you can do this with your setup and you are willing to take the chance, you will also want to wipe down the machine after use as you may pick up deposited cyanide from touching the machine and the workpiece.

I personally wouldn’t touch it.

:slight_smile: We just went through this again last week (it pops up as a topic a couple of times a year). Officially per the GF documentation, the only acceptable leather is ProofGrade (whose tanning method isn’t described). All others are “potentially unsafe” according to GF.

However, in the laser community at large, you’re right that many people use chrome tanned (and veg and hybrid and fat/oil tanned as well). There have even been some projects posted here by GF staff using both non-PG leather and chrome tanned stuff as well.

Should be “may release trace amounts of cyanide gas”. Unless you have some reference besides the SDS that identifies anything more than it being a trace remnant of combustion. If you do, please post a link so I can update the training material for my laser operations class. - TIA


Beyond all the back and forth regarding safety, I’ve found that chrome tanned is just wildly unreliable to laser from piece to piece so I’ve given up on cutting it. Though I will occasionally engrave it.


Most of my leather work is with oil tanned, which is no problem, a little w/ veg tanned, and some chrome tanned hides (ranging from thin 1oz to thicker 6oz leathers).

Have found that some pig skin suede (nearly all thin hides such as pigskin and lambskins, are chrome tanned) caused a weird metallic taste if I stood over the unit for any time to check the progress… and that was many, many hours ago on my unit, and no ill effects to the machine since. (Though this could be in part due to the dye, too).

But nothing like that when etching many thin cowhides or lambskins.

Nothing to report on my self (yet) apart from the weird taste/feeling in the mouth at the time, and not sure what my lungs took in, but likely worse than other things I’ve inhaled in various factories and crafting projects… But if you plan to do a lot of work with it, might be good to have a good respirator for your comfort available to wear while the machine is running and fully exhausted…

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I stay away from chrome tanned. Too many warnings around about its use in a laser. I tried oil tanned once; it flamed and smoked so much I didn’t feel safe using it. So now I stick to vegetable tanned leather. The odor is a little off-putting at first, but it cuts and engraves nicely with minimal smoke/flame.

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Hi there - Since your question is about materials that were purchased from another company, we can’t offer support on this. Materials may vary widely from piece to piece, even if they’re created by the same manufacturer. I’m going to move it to Beyond the Manual so other folks here can help. Should you have questions about Proofgrade materials, please open a new ticket in Problems and Support and we’ll help you right away!

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