laser engraving machine

Can you laser engrave stainless steel?

The short answer is yes, stainless steel can be laser engraved. It is a misconception that engraving is never suitable for stainless steel. Feasibility will depend on the application, environment and available laser engraving equipment.

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The process of laser engraving stainless steel involves the physical removal of the surface layer of the metal by an intense laser beam to create the engraving of the desired design.

A method called deep is also commonly used to mark stainless steel. It is similar to engraving, but the material is processed multiple times. This means calibrating your machine to emit relatively low power at slower speeds, then repeating the process multiple times. When using this process on stainless steel, more material is removed to produce a cleaner engraved design.

muse 3d laser cutter P9 M40

What is the best way to mark stainless steel?
When deciding to laser engrave stainless steel, there are several ways to go about it. CO2 lasers can engrave pretreated stainless steel, or fiber lasers can engrave or etch stainless steel. Stainless steel is also suitable for laser annealing.

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Deep laser engraving is often used to mark stainless steel. In order to obtain deeper engraving, the marking speed of the laser needs to be reduced, and the power needs to be increased. After multiple passes through the stainless steel at different angles, a clean design will result.

Another way to mark stainless steel is to anneal it. Annealing is a less invasive type of laser marking. Annealing is characterized by low power applications for extended periods of time. When you anneal stainless steel, you melt it, but you don’t remove any material. This means that the chromium oxide layer remains intact and continues to prevent stainless steel from rusting or corroding.

By annealing stainless steel, you expose it to relatively low heat for extended periods of time. This process melts the material or substrate without removing the layers that protect it from oxidation or rust.

What kind of laser is needed to engrave stainless steel?
Fiber laser engravers are ideal for engraving stainless steel. A CO2 laser can also be used, but a marking solution must be applied to the surface beforehand. Many laser engraving contractors offer two laser options to achieve the customer’s desired look.

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Let’s take a closer look at these two laser engraving techniques and how they perform on stainless steel.

A CO2 laser is a gas laser. Its core usually uses carbon dioxide or helium-neon gas. The older of the two methods, CO2 laser engraving is still commonly used, but operates less efficiently than fiber lasers.

CO2 laser cutters can engrave wood, plastic and metal, including stainless steel. However, CO2 lasers cannot directly engrave metal because the laser beam reflects off the surface. In order to engrave stainless steel, the material must first be pretreated with a marking solution such as CerMark or LaserBond.

This engraving style is ideal for light surface etching, including engraving stainless steel jewelry and other personalised items, as well as plaques and trophies.

Fiber laser machines are the latest development in the industry and are more efficient than CO2 lasers. Today, this is the preferred option for engraving or marking stainless steel.

Fiber lasers are more stable and very precise than CO2 lasers. Its power ranges from 4kW to 15kW or even 20kW, well above the threshold for CO2 lasers. For this reason, fiber lasers are more commonly used in industrial applications and large production runs where efficiency and speed are critical.

Laser Engraving Materials

A laser tool can etch or cut material, these are its main functional processes. Therefore, common materials used for laser engraving include:

Glass: It is one of the top laser engraving materials. Laser work can be done on all eyeglasses for aesthetically pleasing results. It could be wine glasses, bottles, vases and cups.

Wood: It is a popular carving material because it is cheap and readily available. Other than that, you can laser engrave and cut any type of wood for different effects. The most common wood types used for carving include plywood, MDF, solid wood/solid wood, natural wood, particleboard, HDF, and veneer.

Glass etching

Marble and granite: These materials are mainly used for engraving photographs, this is because marble and granite are very effective in sculpting contrast. For a better aesthetic, use dark materials.

Bricks and Stones: They are great for carving items that will be exposed to different weather elements. This makes them ideal for engraving pieces for memorial sites and outdoor patios.

Leather: This material, like fabric, can be customized by engraving. Engraved leather is in high demand and the most common engraving materials include natural leather, suede, synthetic leather and suede.

Metals: All types of metals can be engraved, but the most common include: stainless steel, iron, steel, brass, aluminum, and silver.

Acrylic: It is a durable, reliable and lightweight alternative to glass. There are two types of acrylic sheets, extruded and cast. Therefore, they respond differently to the engraving process. Cast acrylic sheets often produce a frosted white appearance compared to the original material. Extruded acrylic, on the other hand, usually stays clear because it doesn’t create as much contrast.

What machine settings are included with the laser engraver?
The laser settings determine the output of the cutter. For example, a faster speed usually indicates that the machine will have less exposure time to your material, and vice versa. The four main types of machine setups include:

1. Power
The power setting controls the energy level in the laser device. It is worth noting that as the power increases, the energy levels in the laser also increase. In general, the energy required to penetrate a material generally varies by type and thickness. Deeper cuts and vertical walls require more energy than thin tapers because more energy is required to remove more material.

NOTE: Extremely high energy levels can cause burnt edges and smoke. Overall, lower power results in straighter edges and shallower cuts. At the same time, more power results in wider edges and deeper cuts.

2. Speed
Speed ​​affects how fast the laser carriage moves. There is a direct relationship between speed and power (energy). To do this, you need to understand that the longer the exposure to an area, the more energy that area receives. Therefore, we can conclude that velocity can be used to control the duration of energy concentration at a point.

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Lower speeds result in slower cuts but deeper cuts, while higher speeds result in faster cuts but shallower cuts because less energy is concentrated at one point in this case. Understand that your designs may end up with bad edges if you are extremely slow or too fast.

3. Frequency
Frequency settings for laser engravers are usually measured in Hertz (HZ). This decisive parameter represents the number of laser pulses generated in one second. For example, CO2 lasers have a frequency range of 1,000 Hz – 60,000 Hz.

In some cases, frequency may also be referred to as pulses per inch (PPI). It gives you ultimate control over how many times the pulse can be highlighted within a given object distance during an engraving or cutting process. Note that the higher the frequency, the more output pulses are generated. This eventually causes the pulses to overlap, resulting in a smoother cut.

However, higher frequency values ​​mean more heat is generated during the cutting process, which can cause some materials to char or melt. At the same time, the lower frequency means fewer pulses are generated in a spaced manner, which often results in perforated lines.

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4. Key points
Focus is important to provide the best cutting results for different material thicknesses. Laser beams are required to facilitate engraving or cutting by ”focusing” the light on a specific area.

To adjust the focus of the laser engraver, you will need to adjust the Z axis down depending on the thickness of the material you are using. Just measure the thickness of the material you want to engrave, and adjust the engraver’s backup based on the thickness level achieved. you can focus

Laser Cut Acrylic Plexiglass

There’s no denying that working with some laser-cut materials is a lot of fun for both novice and experienced cutters. Our laser cutting experts at Vector & Raster agree that acrylic is one of the most satisfying materials in and out of the studio. The flame polished edges created during the acrylic laser cutting process look great, just flip your design over and you can choose a glossy or matte finish for your laser cut acrylic parts in the Pastel range over make acrylic a use A wide range of materials for a variety of production jobs.

Custom Laser Cut Acrylic Production
Acrylic, also known as plexiglass, is a thick plastic that can be produced with glossy finish, matte finish, mirror finish, glitter finish and many other amazing effects. We usually use acrylic sheets of different thicknesses, available anywhere from 1mm to 10mm thick.

acrylic laser cutter

The large number of acrylic sheets used by our laser cutting experts at Vector & Raster are typically around 3mm thick as they are available in a wide range of colours and finishes, including burst pastels that can be used to create attractive and eye-catching signs, in countless other commercial or consumer products.

Using laser cutting technology to cut larger acrylic sheets, our laser cutting experts are able to create high quality acrylic signs, 3 dimensional 2 dimensional signs, and provide our customers with a final product that looks good in the end.

In today’s blog post, we’ll take a closer look at acrylic’s potential for producing a variety of laser-cut products, including corporate signage or logos, and consumer products. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at one of our latest projects involving laser cut acrylic in one of our favorite pastel colors.

Our Custom Laser Cut Acrylic Projects
For this particular project, the client attempted to create a series of whimsical designs for custom products, inspired by a selection of beloved Pokemon, which was a lot of fun for our laser cutting technicians. The plexiglass used to complete this project is pale yellow and 3mm thick. Customers choose to use the matte finish of acrylic on their smooth surface, so our laser cutting experts make sure the acrylic is flipped over to its preferred side to ensure the finished product is to the customer’s liking.

Using precision cutting and engraving techniques, our laser cutting technicians are able to produce clear designs with all the details needed to meet customer specifications.

These atomstack laser-cut acrylic panels are also finished to ensure high-quality flame-polished edges so the final product looks smooth from any angle and catches light when viewed from the side. The ability of this acrylic part to work with natural or artificial light also makes acrylic signage more visible than alternative laser-cut materials like wood or paper.

As you can see in the photo of one of the laser cut panels of the final product, the results of this project really speak for themselves. Both our laser cutting specialists and the client are very pleased with the results of this project, and the client may produce acrylic products in many other designs.

What can laser cut acrylic be used for?
In addition to being a valuable material for the production of laser-cut signs, laser-cut acrylic can be used in a wide range of other commercial and consumer products, including jewelry, accessories like earrings, ornaments like Christmas tree ornaments, and even cards or anything else you’d like to see Wedding invitations that stand the test of time.

The flexibility to choose a glossy or matte finish makes laser-cut acrylic a very popular material for makers of fancy jewelry or small boutiques looking to expand their original wares. Laser engraving directly on acrylic is also a very popular method for adding text or designs to logos or signage as well as smaller consumer products such as jewelry.

Essentially, laser cut acrylic is a versatile laser cut material that small business owners, independent manufacturers and large corporations can use to produce higher quality products and even as signage for their business premises, detail or decoration.

Why Laser Cut Acrylic with Vector & Raster?
With over 20 years of experience producing custom templates, designs and countless other laser cutting products for a range of independent and corporate clients, our laser cutting experts can bring your wildest project ideas to life. Our studio spaces are packed with rafters with laser cutting tools and techniques and an abundance of high quality laser cut materials to ensure all their finished products shine right at the source.

But of course it’s not just tools that make a good carpenter. All of our laser cutting experts have all the right industry knowledge and experience to deliver the best possible finished product at the end of every project they undertake.

What is the difference between laser marking and engraving metal?

Laser technology has been around for a long time, enabling manufacturers to develop new ways to assemble and track their products. From welding plastics to engraving metal, lasers have a place in every industry. If you’re relatively new to the technology, you might be wondering what’s the difference between laser marking and laser engraving – but more importantly, which process is right for you.

Laser engraver

Laser processing method of metal
The term laser marking is often used as a word to describe a set of processes. This can range from surface marking to deep engraving, both of which leave ”marks”. Below are the industry standard terms we use to describe the types of tagging methods.

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ablation. The terms laser engraving and laser etching are subtypes of this process, which differ by the depth of the cavity and the way light is reflected to show contrast. Laser engraving is an umbrella term for this method.

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annealing. This is the surface level change of the metal to provide contrast for legibility. Laser marking is used to describe this method more generally.
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between laser marking, laser engraving, and laser etching.

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What is laser engraving/ablation?
Laser engraving, or ablation, is a process that involves high laser power and high-speed movement of the laser beam to rapidly vaporize material, revealing an image at eye level. This creates durable cavities in the material and is usually done before the powder coating process. Ablation can also be used to remove thin layers of materials such as paint, anodizing, and plastic films. The process called laser cleaning is a form of ablation used to remove contaminants such as rust and oil from metal, as well as to clean molds used in injection molding.

There are two main subtypes of ablation, called engraving and etching. Etching is similar to engraving, but is identified by raised edges that reflect light differently and have a shallower depth.

Engraving depths up to 0.02″ and above
Etch depth typically not more than 0.001″

Sample A was engraved using an ultrafast picosecond fiber laser. The edges are clean and the surrounding material is not affected by the heat of the laser. This is called the heat affected zone (HAZ). We discussed this topic in our previous article on the unique processing capabilities of ultrafast lasers.

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What is laser marking/annealing?
Laser marking or annealing is the process of modifying the surface properties of a material through an oxidation process to produce contrasting marks. This oxidation is accomplished by slowly heating the material at low power to attract carbon to the surface, creating a clear mark. This process works on steel and most plastics that contain carbon molecules. When annealed, material is not removed from the surface, resulting in a smooth finish.

Tips for Laser Engraving Wood

Wood in nature has a very different fate. Some low-quality wood was simply used as fuel and quickly disappeared without a trace. Some have been transformed into various furniture or tools to provide convenience for people’s lives. However, there are other woods that can be loved and cherished. This wood is never pure wood, but a work of art or craft engraved by a laser machine.

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Laser engraving technology taps the potential value of wood. A rough or even messy piece of wood is worthless until it is carved. However, laser engraving technology is not as easy as we say. Why? This article aims to give you some explanation with 6 tips on how to laser engrave wood.

1. Low-viscosity masking tape

Before carving the wood, cover the surface of the wood with low-tack tape. In this case, there will be no brown or grey spots on the surface of the wood caused by smoke. When you’re done, remove the tape and you’ll find it’s cleaner than usual. This method can be time consuming if you are working on some very detailed projects. A paint scraper can then be used to speed things up.

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2. Denatured alcohol

After the engraving work, prepare a bottle of denatured alcohol and a white cloth to clean the burn marks. Two things to note here – you must spray the alcohol evenly to protect the engraving, and you should use a colorless cloth (such as white) to wipe the burn marks without getting smudged by the dye.

3. Burn at 1200 DPI

Higher engraving resolutions can be achieved by adding more dots per inch (DPI). More DPI usually means more laser shots. Therefore, if this method is used, the wood can be burned deeper, so two carvings may be required. Therefore, you should strike a balance between sculpting resolution and time spent.

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4. Take back your attention 0.2″

Do not set the focus of the laser automatically, but manually. You can use a digital caliper to lower the laser bed by 0.2 inches, which reduces mess and smoke. This way, not only will the carved plank surface be cleaner than ever, but you’ll spend less time cleaning the plank surface. This method is especially recommended when sculpting very detailed projects.

5. Use real hardwood for large carvings

Our past sculpting experience has taught us that plywood doesn’t work as well as we thought. Then we chose hardwood for large carvings for 3 reasons. First of all, the texture of the wood surface is consistent and beautiful. The second is that hardwood is heavier than plywood, which can guarantee higher carving quality. The last one is that the hardwood surface can be completely controlled.

6. Do some woodcut experiments

Although we don’t machine plywood very well compared to hardwood, we do think you can carve plywood perfectly with skilled craftsmanship and an advanced carver. It is recommended to do more engraving experiments on different kinds of wood to find a better laser solution.

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Laser engraving wood is a common technology in the laser engraving industry, but further mining the great value of wood is the eternal mission of laser engraving technology and machines. Therefore, we still have a long way to go in improving laser technology and processes.

How to Prepare Your Image for Laser Engraving

If you’ve never used a laser engraver before, you might be surprised at what can happen when you finally get into the workshop and start your own machining process. Laser engraving is a versatile application – it can be used to mark medical equipment or aftermarket auto parts that can withstand the harshest conditions, or to commemorate a birthday or special event by marking the date on a souvenir.

One of the coolest applications for atomstack laser engravers we’ve seen is working with photorealistic photos and images. Our galvo laser systems are so precise that in addition to engraving words and phrases, you can actually engrave photorealistic images into stainless steel. You have to be comfortable with grayscale, but when you get your images set up correctly, this incredible process produces great results.

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Based on our own trial and error process, we have come up with the ideal step-by-step process for preparing your chosen laser engraving image. With so many different types of laser engravers available, and so many software options for preparing images, it’s hard to generalize about a one-size-fits-all approach, but we’ve done our best to make this guide accessible to everyone. Whether you’re an experienced designer working with Corel DRAW or the free online tool GIMP, follow these steps to prepare your images for sculpting.

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Step 1 – Start with a high-quality image
When choosing an image for laser engraving, it is important to start with a high-resolution, high-quality image. A stamp image scanned from an old photo album will not retain its sharpness through the transformation that occurs before the image is ready for engraving, and you will not be able to ”inflate” or ”zoom in” like a picture from a CSI TV show. Make sure to use it well camera to take high-resolution photos for the best results.

Step 2 – Cut to Perfection
The advantage of starting with a high-quality photo is that you can effectively crop it and make it look bad. Cut out the parts of the image that you don’t want, and resize the rest to the size you want it to appear on the stainless steel or other material you’re using.

Step 3 – Remove the Background
This step is important and may require using the clipping tool in your image processing software or some handy Photoshop skills. If you don’t remove the background, your image may get lost in the background during the engraving process. By making the background of the image pure white and the laser engraving only the object in focus, you can avoid obscuring objects with irrelevant background details you don’t want.

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Step 4 – Convert the Image to Grayscale
Laser engraving naturally produces grayscale images by cutting different lines at different depths for different number of passes. Generating an image in grayscale gives you a good idea of ​​what it will look like when sculpted onto the material of your choice – your image is almost ready! Looking at the grayscale image should help you with the next steps, you’ll have to make some slight edits to the image for best results.

Step 5 – Edit your photo however you choose
Now that we’re working on something similar to what a laser engraver will produce, we can start making any version that’s important to achieve the desired result. Editing photos is a highly subjective process, but we’ll offer some advice. These can be applied to photos of people, places or objects.

You want to try to maximize contrast in key areas of your photo. This usually means making whites whiter and dark areas darker.
Areas that appear white in real life, such as eyes or nails, should be highlighted in the image by reducing any shadows that appear there. Set the black to 3-6% to help these areas stand out better.

Remove shadows from any faces in the image, as the dark contrasts too strongly with hair, which is usually darker. Set black to 10-15% for best results.
For dark tresses, darken them. For lighter tresses, you can make them lighter.

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Step 5 Alternative – Color Index
If you’re not going to edit your photos, there’s an option you can choose to help maximize contrast without having to make any complicated changes yourself – that tool is Color Index. If you plan to use color indexing, you may need to do this before changing the image to grayscale.

A color index is a tool that some imaging software has that repaints your photo with a fixed number of colors for maximum contrast. It essentially looks at all the colors in the image, combines them into any number of groups of your choice, and replaces each group with one color. All you need to do is choose the number of colors you want for the image and let the image processor do the rest.

Step 6 – Sharpen Your Image
Sharpening just makes lines look thicker, and it’s a simple tool that exists in almost every photo editing program. For photos of people, sharpen the eyelashes, lips, hair around the face, and any other areas you want to emphasize in the final sculpted image. If you photographed objects or buildings, focus on the most important lines that add texture to the image and give it a three-dimensional feel.

Step 7 – Convert and Export
Your image should now look the way you want it to be sculpted on stainless steel, plywood, or other materials. The next step is to convert this image to a bitmap of the appropriate resolution and transfer it to laser CAD software for engraving. When exporting as a bitmap, the recommended resolution is approximately 200 pixels per centimeter. This ensures that your images are displayed in high resolution on the material of your choice.

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Step 8 – Press the red button
The last and most fun step is always setting the options on the laser cutter and pressing ”start” at the end after all the hard work is done. Engraving differs from laser etching in that it makes deeper cuts in the material, and it’s usually better to program the laser to make multiple passes over the material, rather than trying to blast a large piece of steel or wood in a single pass. Our galvo lasers use an oscillating mirror system to cut at extremely high speeds, so your project will be complete in minutes.

in conclusion
Just follow these simple steps and you can reproduce images of stunning quality on a piece of stainless steel, birch or laminate. You also don’t have to be a graphical wizard — in fact, it doesn’t matter what program you use, as long as it performs the basic functions we’ve outlined above. Whatever you choose, the most important thing to remember is to start with a clear, high-resolution image. A great picture is a great starting point for creating great creations with our laser engravers.