Does anyone know of a way to make marks on fabric with something akin to Cermark?

I make t-shirts with my vinyl cutter all the time and was thinking it would be cool to mark on fabric directly. I know about the denim demo, but I was wondering if there was any sort of temperature-sensitive color-changing material for fabric, like we have Cermark for metals.

If you could spray, lase, and wash the residue off a garment, that would be a pretty easy workflow.

Low power high speed will mark fabric without burning it.

Seems like there’s a chance that the right products may exist to do something a little more interesting than marking via scorching.

Here’s what I’d love to see – some kind of heat-activated bleach. Put it on a dark shirt, draw with the laser using enough power to activate the bleaching agent without scorching the fabric. That would create a light design on a dark fabric, and it would be colorfast and not subject to mechanical wear like HTV.

Someone needs to invent that; I’d buy a bottle!

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You can do that with denim as is. It doesn’t look scorched, it comes out white.

From a quick google search, it looks like people have done it with shirts as well. Not sure what the results will be, you may have to experiment.


Great info, thanks! Can’t wait.

That’s super cool! Looks like I’ll be throwing my jeans in the Glowforge as soon as I get it.

Here’s a product I’d like to try with the Forge. I have used it for sun prints in the past. Pretty neat concept and may be just what you sure looking for. I don’t know if residual light from the laser would over expose other areas, or even if the speed you’d need to avoid cutting would even properly expose the dye. Can’t wait to try it.

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Those photo emulsions respond to light in the UV part of the spectrum.
Since the CO2 laser is at the far other end, I think you will find yourself cutting your fabrics into little pieces instead of exposing them.
Not trying to dissuade you from experimenting, but it is worth knowing how it all works to avoid wasting money.

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So let’s develop an emulsion that is sensitive to longer wave radiation. Embed it in silkscreen material and we’ve got a sellable product for screen printers. (No doubt, it’s already been done.)


Go for it!
There is some major chemistry involved, but I bet someone here is up to the task!

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There are lots of IR films, but they’re typically way too sensitive. I wonder if you could do something with encapsulated dye, where the laser would burst the capsules and then the rest could be washed off.

Or heat-set dyes. Hmm.

Or heat-set dyes. Hmm.

This product description implies that the ink can be washed out if it hasn’t been on the garment more than 15 minutes. So, apply ink, laser, wash?

Seems like there must be something out there…


The heats set route sounds promising, but given the amount of power in a 40-45W laser beam the challenge may be dialing back enough not to destroy the ink altogether!
Kind of like the difference between a soldering iron and an oxy-acetylene torch.


If ever there were a case for automated defocusing. You’re not going to get the kind of resolution on fabric anyway, so might as well spread the beam.


Hey how about this stuff?

Laser Flex at

It looks like a great option for a single color operation. I suppose more if you line it up for another pass.


Oh my! I have never seen this. I will be picking some of it up for heat transfer shirt designs that are too intricate to weed without going cross eyed. Thanks for the link!


ZOMG. That Laser Flex material changes everything. Excellent link, thank you! I’ve been doing shirts for a year or so with a vinyl cutter and you are absolutely resolution-limited.

Now, I really wish I had my GF.


Glad to help.

It was a good find for me too.:grin:

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Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

My eyes also Thank you. Cost is more, but no more tiny weeding! Won’t replace regular Heat Transfer Vinyl on my cutter, but a great complement to it. Now I can do just about any design. With the Forge’s camera, a lot of the image prep work shown in their video should also be streamlined.

I’ve been on the Laser Bits site many times and don’t know how I missed this.

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Here’s another source: CAD-CUT Thermo-FILM Heat Transfer Vinyl | Stahls’. It’s polyurethane based.

And a video on its use in a laser cutter: