Glowforge images fading when exposed to light

I have been using my glowforge to burn old photographs onto medium basswood plywood. Over the past few weeks when my prints have been exposed to light they have begun to fade. Does anyone have any ideas on how to prevent fading of the prints?

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Welcome to the forum.

The process of engraving burns away layers of material and exposes the underlying material. I am uncertain how light would change the color or bleach the plywood’s core. Can you share a photo? Some people seal their engraving after cleaning away the char with clear coat.


Hi @makerspae20! Welcome to the forum! I haven’t done any photos, but have you tried the “search” feature at the top right next to your login? I’m sure there’s something there, as there are so many great users here in the GF forums. It might just be a matter of the way your settings are. At any rate, please be sure to join on here often, and show us your projects. We love to be inspired by each other.


do you put any kind of finish on your engraved photos once you’re done? i could see a couple of things that could happen. exposure to elements would allow that char to start to wear off. sealing it would protect against that.

the other thing that could be happening (and this is a non-scientific guess) is that UV light could be fading the darker engrave over time. i can’t say if that really happens to char, but i can say that it’s really important with colored artwork. we always put UV glass or plexi over our artwork when we frame them so we don’t lose the vibrance of the colors.


i have engraved a few items into baltic birch and took no steps to protect them. the engrave does fade over time. not clear if this is due to light exposure (probably) or some kind of oxidation. more noticeable on light engraves vs deep.


do you seal the engraves with anything?

Moving post to Community Support since Made on a Glowforge is for showing off your designs. :blush:


not the ones mentioned here…

I’m a librarian so its a patron who requests the projects and has said they fade. All I provide is the engraved wood out of the glowforge. Do you think Pollyeurathane might be a good enough sealent?

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Can’t share this persons photo they are an artist and its copyrighted but I’m going to recommend polyurethane coat.

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i think a poly coat will certainly help and protect the engrave portion. i’m still not sure if the engraves are vulnerable to UV light (i.e., sunlight), and i don’t know if that would help.

I made some outdoor signs that i put marine grade spar varnish on that i didn’t notice had faded, but i wasn’t paying close attention (they were at an animal shelter and i wasn’t there that often) and i eventually replaced them with acrylic signs.


These are photos of the same engraved map, taken in March 2019 vs August 2023.

There’s no glass or anything protective over the wood. Doesn’t seem to have faded.


I haven’t seen the fading, the customer simply told me they thought it had faded.

If you use variable power there is only a limited part of the range that scorches the wood. The rest of the time it either does not darken it, or is all charcoal. If you use dot however every dot is deep and dark and will stay that way. You may need to adjust the dots so there is some dots on nearly white and in black they are not so concentrated as to burn everything.

LPI also makes a much bigger deal as it determines the size of the dot so should be above 340 at least. If you are using Proofgrade you might even be able to have a color go through the holes but able to wipe off the finish. All this might take a fair amount of experimenting first but is worth the effort.

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I engraved a sign for my FIL to hang at the edge of the beach path. It is heavily coated with Spar urethane, but I am fairly certain that the char faded in the summer sun.

If they want a dark engrave, the best bet might be to give it a coat of paint while the masking is still on. Otherwise, a slightly deeper engrave might help with the contrast.


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