Laser Dying Fabric?

I posted this as a reply to a very old topic, but thought I’d refresh it here as a new topic.

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. 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. It could produce some nice, interesting results to put color on light fabrics.


Wow what a neat idea. I know the laser can bleach away the dye in things like canvas or blue jeans but maybe with the right settings you could do some really cool stuff with this.

Great find!
@madebynick what do you think? Worth a shot?

I am fairly sure that product will not work the way you might want it to.


The dye is sensitive to cyan/blue/violet/UV light, so IR light from a CO2 laser isn’t likely to work well.

Drat that science mumbo jumbo getting in the way of art!


aww bummer lol.


While the GF is unlikely to help here, there are a number of “experimental” laser cutters out there based on 405nm blue laser diodes. I suspect that wavelength would work really well with power cranked way down to avoid actual thermal damage to the underlying fabric.

The GF could be used in a two stage process, where it selectively removes material from some kind of mask which could then be placed directly on top of the fabric to be exposed by regular sunlight. --like making a rubylith pattern for old-style PC board creation.

Oh, the possibilities!


Yes, the 405nm diode lasers would work well (as long as you don’t have any spill/reflection) for inkodye and similar sunlight dyes (there are a couple clone products).

BTW - you can print masks with a laser printer or ink jet printer. You may need to stack two in order to get the density - but I’ve done it with silk screens, PC boards, and more than a few gelatin prints.

Now, there are some possibilities with heat fused colorants (like laser/copier toner), or heat activated chemical reactions. I’ll have to see what I can find. But are they really worth the hassle compared to inkjet iron on, or DirectToGarment printers?


Agreed. This is how I’ve used Inkodye in the past. It is tough to get a really good black, I have usually used a couple of printed transparencies stacked up. I wonder if painting a sheet of glass a dark color and lasering off just the paint would work? You’d get great light blocking and if lasered to just take off the paint, could re-use the glass pane after cleaning it up.

Just looking for different things to try. Direct to Garment printers look great, but I don’t do enough to invest in one (says the guy who dropped a bunch of money on a sight unseen Laser):grin:.

Inkjet printable transfer paper for light colored fabric works well. Much improved over the years.

I’ve also used Jet Dark Transfer Paper from Coastal for transferring to dark fabric. It has held up through a number of washings. The only problem is unless you weed it, you still have a white background after trimming closely. It is also very “crunchy” after coming out of the dryer, even at low heat. Cleans up nice if you press it with a protective sheet between the fabric and heat source.

One of the other threads referenced Laser Flex at Laser Bits. Lost Redirection. This looks great for detailed one color prints on dark fabric.

The long and the short of it is that any number of different things will work, depending on what you are looking for. The forum is a great place to brainstorm - like I did with the direct lasering of Inkodye. :grinning:


Given the standard inkjet negative setup, the GF may not provide much advantage in printing masks, unless 12x24" masks are desired.

Or if you use the mask as a stencil. (basically same difference I believe?) You would not get any photographic resolution, but a laser can cut pretty intricate patterns out of cardstock.

FWIW, I’ve built some projects based on 405 and 445-nm diodes (the 445 ones are up in the multiwatt range, but the beam characteristics are typically lousy) and you can definitely bleach dyes with them. (I was cutting paper, and at faster speeds or lower powers some of the colored paper would bleach rather than burn. Black construction paper with little white patterns…) But whatever you used I would foresee a whole lot of testing and tuning.