Månadsvis arkiv: juli 2022
Laser cutters are versatile solutions to a variety of industrial and commercial challenges. With the right laser cutting machine, industrial and commercial organizations can meet their needs for engraving, cutting or marking a wide variety of different materials with technology that outperforms the competition. Below, we’ve listed five major benefits associated with using a laser engraver or cutter. Read on to learn how the versatility and precision offered by powerful laser technology can benefit your organization.
Laser cutting machines are widely used
Laser cutters are versatile in that they can perform different operations depending on how the user or operator configures their settings. Laser cutting, engraving, marking and even laser etching can all be performed by the same machine under different operating conditions, and each function is suitable for a different type of application. Let’s take a look at these four functions and the differences between them:
Laser engraving uses a high power laser to evaporate the surface of the material, leaving visible marks between 0.02″ and 0.125″ deep. Laser engraving is a useful process for personalizing or customizing objects made of wood, leather or stainless steel, but the process may not be suitable for industrial part marking applications because the depth of cut may affect aspects of the material that are critical to it. Performance.
Laser etching is a special type of laser engraving that allows extremely shallow cuts, usually only 0.001 inches deep.
Laser cutting is the use of a laser machine to cut an entire shape or section from a selected material. High power CO2 laser machines are the best choice for cutting plastic and metal substances because they interact directly with the material, not just the pigments in the material. Some metals have high enough melting points to be laser-cut, but nearly all fabrics and paper-based materials can be easily shaped by laser cutting.
Laser marking is often used to create permanent barcodes or other traceability marks on metal products, such as medical devices or automotive or aerospace parts. Laser marking does not cause any physical changes to the material as it is done using only a low power laser. The beam causes oxidation under the metal surface, discoloring it and leaving a permanent, high-contrast mark. Laser marking is effective on flat, curved and round surfaces.
Vector cutting machine is accurate and reliable
Both mechanical and laser cutting are common manufacturing processes across the manufacturing industry today, but there is a reason why more and more manufacturers are choosing to rely on laser cutting machines for their needs.
Description: High power CO2 lasers like this one have rapidly replaced almost all traditional marking techniques such as dot needle, inkjet and labels. Lasers create permanent and consistent marks with low cost and high precision that no other marking technology can match.
The laser engraving process is also superior to its industrial counterpart computer rotary engraving. Using a laser, the time and labor required to set up an engraving job is reduced, and laser engraving can be used to mark a wider range of metals and other materials.
The reason is the unmatched precision and reliability of computer numerically controlled (CNC) vector cutters, which provide absolute consistency and help minimize risk throughout the cutting process. Compared to mechanical cutting, laser cutting offers:
The ability to surface finish products, while machined parts may require post-processing to finish them
There is no direct contact between the material and the laser cutter, reducing the possibility of material contamination or accidental marking
Less heat is generated in a smaller area than mechanical cutting, reducing the risk of material warping or warping at the cut site
Some manufacturers continue to use chemical etching to mark Atomstack products, but laser marking is certainly a more efficient option. Thanks to its CNC interface, the laser marker can produce consistent marks with 99.9% accuracy on a variety of materials, even in different shapes. Processes such as chemical etching, the success of which depends on the variable absorption rate of the chosen acid material, often produce marks with up to 50% error/defect rate. Chemical etching lacks the precision and reliability of laser etching when it comes to producing high-quality, long-lasting laser marks.
The software most recommended by the manufacturer is the freeware LaserGRBL. This works, but we find it relatively cluttered, cumbersome, and not very intuitive. As an alternative, we therefore use the software called Lightburn, which is also named by the manufacturer. The program costs just under 40 euros, but can be used as a free trial version for 30 days. Anyone who decides on a laser engraver should also plan for this budget. From our point of view, the investment is worthwhile.
After starting the software and setting up the connected laser once, Lightburn shows the engraver’s workspace. Then the desired template, a pixel or vector graphic is imported and the size and position are adjusted. In addition to JPEG, TIFF or DXF, the software also supports numerous other formats. We now put a frame around the object and adjust the speed and laser power settings. In the first step we only expose the frame and burn it into our base to determine the exact position of the engraving. Then we position the actual workpiece and, in the second step, output the desired motif.
The laser now scans the motif and burns it into the surface underneath. The laser changes speed and power to display shades of gray. The result is burned-in areas of different strengths, which can be more or less differentiated depending on the material. While small lettering is finished after a few minutes, larger workpieces take significantly longer. How long the entire process takes can be seen in Lightburn.
The Atomstack A5 Pro is easy to use for users with experience in 3D printing and users with a basic understanding of technology. At the beginning of the test, we only had concerns about the reliability of goggles and face shields. Since our engraver is on the ground, the attached privacy screen alone does a good job. If the laser were on a table, the angle would be different and the privacy screen would be largely useless. With the glasses on, we have a good feeling and were able to watch the laser at work for minutes without feeling any negative effects. Headaches, burning eyes would be indications of possible damage, even if you are not looking directly into the laser. You really have to be careful here! The use of such machines is not without risk. You must decide for yourself whether you want to do this. It would be safest to simply observe the work process with a camera.
Even the first test drives with the A5 put a big smile on our faces. The laser does a really good job. Contours and details are burned sharply and clearly into the wood. Contrasts and shades of gray can be seen very well on the 4 mm craft wood from the hardware store. We work here at a speed of 3000 mm/min and 70 percent output and have been completely satisfied so far. However, the attempt to cut a shape out of the wood (at 1000 mm/min and 100 percent power) fails despite scanning the frame six times. The laser just isn’t strong enough here. However, experiments with the enclosed sample wood (2 mm thick) work with the settings mentioned. For example, the TechStage logo was easily cut out. However, after a total of 6 passes, only between 80 and 90 percent of the wood you made with the same material was cut through. Two repetitions would have been necessary here. With the help of a cutter knife and a little strength, the Star Wars coaster can then be easily broken out. However, the edges are then not perfect. The 5 W output power is simply not enough for cutting wood or even harder material. The situation is different with thin cardboard or felt, but tests are necessary for each material in order to determine good settings. Otherwise the laser is either too weak or the edges will burn. The actual surface also has a major impact on the final quality. On the engraving of a bamboo breakfast board, the fibers are clearly visible, which ultimately affects the sharpness of the motif.
We engrave the mirror tile used in the test from behind and use the wood engraving settings. This also works very well, but it smells like burnt plastic. The A5 not only burns the mirror surface on the back, but also makes the glass milky. The mirror is translucent in the engraved areas and can then be illuminated from behind, for example. If you don’t want that, you can cover the engraved areas on the back with paint or foil and make them opaque again.
Engraving leather or imitation leather also works well. However, smoke and odors are really unpleasant. You should work with little force here so as not to burn the material. While the attempt with a smartphone case still looks okay, the loose piece of leather warped violently during engraving. For a good result, the material would have to be stretched over a piece of wood. It is much better to engrave a leatherette headphone box. Here we had limited the performance to 35 percent.
If you don’t trust the glasses that come with it, you can also buy goggles individually to match the wavelength. In the medium term we would make another box as a privacy screen. This would reduce the risk to pets and family members and would allow for an effective exhaust system to be installed. Even if the laser only removes thin layers of the surface, these will still be burned, producing smoke and odor. When engraving wood, poor ventilation creates a thick blue haze and campfire smell. That may sound quite romantic to some, but the fun stops when it comes to processing plastic or leather. If you don’t want a foggy and smelly cabin, you have to open the window or better yet install an extraction system to avoid screeching fire alarms and health hazards.
The Atomstack A5 surprises with a simple structure and great results. At 410 × 400 mm, the A5 finally offers enough space and also works quickly and comfortably. With the A5, do-it-yourselfers get an unusual, fascinating and at the same time practical tool for the hobby room for just under 220 euros.
All in all, the laser does a pleasantly good job. It is only suitable for cutting to a limited extent, but the device is well equipped for engraving wood, plastic, cardboard, cork, leather or foam rubber. In practice, we are only disturbed by the zero point that is not marked by a limit switch, the too complex adjustment of the Z axis and the open housing.
If you want to work with wood, you should also check out our guide to saws and sanders.
Atomstack M4 Fiber 2-in-1 Laser Marking Machine
This laser engraver is a high-end diode laser engraver that is still very affordable compared to many of its competitors.
The Atomstack S10 Pro Laser Engraver is a fixed focus laser engraver with a 445nm wavelength blue diode laser, the laser itself has an output of 5.5 watts, perfect for anyone new to the world of maker culture Choose from general, or dedicated to laser engraving and cutting. It comes in kit form with simple instructions to help you put it together, luckily it’s not a very long process to get it done. There are no IKEA-level issues in these directions.
It took me about 30 minutes to get things up and running, and it was mostly straightforward. The only caveat is to place the track inside the beam to move the laser and cover the engraved area. The kit comes with all the tools you need to put it together, but it would be helpful if you had some anti-static tweezers or similar on hand to help pull the rubber tracks.
In addition to the getting started guide, the S10 Pro comes with some documentation in PDF form, which you can find by scanning the QR code on the front of the manual. This walks you through the process of using the laser, and it’s pretty easy. The user manual recommends two different software for you to use: LaserGRBL is a free and more user friendly, but somewhat basic software option, while LightBurn is paid software for more advanced users Function.
After downloading the software, the manual will guide you in setting the focus of the laser. After placing a protective surface under the area to be engraved, place the object to be cut or engraved under the laser, then loosen the nut on the back of the laser shield and place the aluminum focusing post under the shield. Then tighten the nut again and the laser will be at the perfect distance from the engraving for best results. Since it’s a fixed focus laser, it’s super easy to set up and get ready to burn with consistent results every time.
At this time, the accompanying manual covers the use of LaserGRBL software, but does not cover LightBurn extensively. This makes sense because if this isn’t your first laser engraver, you probably won’t need much software guidance, but if it’s your first then you’ll probably be inclined to use more streamlined software. You can also find some examples of the best settings for lasers using different materials, including cutting and engraving. These settings are also important for LightBurn and other similar software, but it’s important to remember that the stats in the book deal with millimeters per minute, so if your software uses something else, you’ll need to convert it.
That’s mostly good news in terms of how well the Atom Stack S10 Pro itself is good at engraving and cutting different materials. Despite being easy to set up and use, the S10 Pro can handle a surprising variety of different materials with excellent results. Comes with a small coaster-sized piece of thin wood for you to try, but you can carve on just about anything, from paper and card, all the way to metal and plastic, as long as you follow safety information when choosing what you pick up for Avoid fire or release of harmful chemicals.
If you use the proper settings, you can easily get incredibly good results even in the first few uses of the device. The software allows you to simply take images and use a variety of tools to convert them into usable engraving or cutting patterns. Using the speed and power settings in the manual, you just enter them into the correct fields and hit start. There are a few issues with setting exactly the right quality settings for the images and materials you’re using, but many of the results speak for themselves.
The first thing we tried was sculpting some images onto a blank coaster, after some experimentation it was easy to do many different designs without a lot of mistakes. We also tried some more intricate ideas like cutting a wooden dice tower design from a piece of wood and letting us glue it together. Not only is this easy to achieve, but it also reduces the size of the tower to fit our planks. Of course, we did end up with a very small dice tower, but that’s more limited by materials than anything else.
Experiments with other materials have also yielded excellent results. Slate, in particular, is an excellent medium for this engraver. It creates a lovely contrast between the image and the background, and it does it so quickly that it doesn’t take a whole day to get the job done, even on larger designs. Remember that you and anyone else in the room will need to wear the included safety goggles while using the device. If you plan to use it at home rather than in a private studio or elsewhere, then you’ll need to buy extra goggles for anyone planning to walk in.
Another material we tried was 3mm acrylic. In the guide it gives suggested settings to use on acrylic, but for some reason on the safety material board acrylic and other forms of plastic are simply scratched out, probably because they emit when burned Toxic fumes are emitted. Either way, the machine can cut acrylic very quickly, as long as you’re dealing with a dark enough color or one that the blue laser won’t have a problem with. Just make sure you have good ventilation.
Engraving on metal is a little more difficult, at least with your limited experience. We tried engraving on painted metal using the specs suggested in the book, and while it looked fine when painted, we were left with very faint lines after removing the paint with acetone. Even with repeated attempts at slower speeds or more passes, it was clear that not much happened.
So, are there any downsides to the S10 Pro laser engraver? If anything, it’s just that if this is more specific to beginners, it would be useful to know more about the specifics of using certain materials. This doesn’t make much of a difference to the machine, but while it mentions that it’s difficult to cut clear acrylic or plastic, it doesn’t mention the potential difficulty with lighter colors in general.
At the end of the day, the S10 Pro laser engraver is not only extremely easy to set up and use, but it’s also a powerful cutting and engraving machine for the money you put into it. The equipment will cost you over $500, and for that, you’ll get some incredible cutting power. Clever optics in the laser assembly can cut material all the way up to 15mm, depending on the material in question. Whether you’re a die-hard member of the maker community looking for a new cutter and engraver for your building, or a hobbyist looking to knock out some plaques and coasters for your friends, you’ll be hard-pressed to find this quality. Laser, for this price.
There are several different options for DIY enclosures, depending on your level of experience, budget, and the time you’re willing to put in. On the very cheap end will get a large cardboard box to cover the laser while it is running. This will keep all the smoke out, and if you’re feeling fancy you can even add a cheap exhaust fan with some flexible ducting to get the smoke out the next window. However, there are of course some safety concerns with using highly flammable cardboard around a laser cutter and the inability to observe progress.
This brings me to the next step, and the options I actually recommend. For some visibility, you can add a tinted acrylic window that blocks the laser but still lets you see inside. To deal with the smoke, we’ll use a cheap exhaust fan and some flexible ducting. This will result in a very functional case that is still very easy to build and not too expensive.
Because every laser engraver is a slightly different size, it won’t do you much good if I just tell you the size I used for the machine and leave it there. Instead, I’ll show you how to find the right size yourself.
To get the width of our enclosure, we want to see where the widest part of our machine is. Also, keep in mind that things like cables sticking out may need some space to move smoothly. Then you’ll add some extra margin, like 1/2 inch or 10mm.
The dust cover for the ATOMSTACK B1 Enclosure laser engraver is equipped with an air inlet and a ventilation fan. The fumes from engraving or cutting will be purified through the filter system and exhaust, creating a fresh working environment for you.
B1 laser cutting machine shell safe design, fireproof metal structure, make the laser machine work safer, acrylic window design can filter laser to protect eyes and make viewing more convenient.
ATOMSTACK laser engraving machine shell safety dust box design, all metal structure, more durable, fireproof and dustproof.
The protective box cover with large internal space, and the bottom of the box has a movable bottom plate, which can be disassembled and can be placed with rollers to meet your needs. It is convenient for you to clean up the waste generated after engraving or cutting.
Ventilation system design Powerful ventilation system, high smoke removal efficiency, all-metal structure design, effective dustproof and fireproof, making your art carving work safer and more secure Automatic exhaust comes with an air outlet of about 2 meters, which can be opened after opening Automatic start of exhaust work, duct exhaust or use with air purifier for more comfortable working environment More flexible use Bottom removable door for placing rollers Engraving cylindrical objects, making it easier for you to clean up scraps after engraving and cutting work Compatible with all Atomstack machines Compatible with A5 series, S series, X series, P series and 95% of similar volume engraving machine brands on the market 670mm 300mm.
No matter what laser engraver you have, with very few exceptions, they all have one big problem in common, they are not closed. While this doesn’t really matter for a 3D printer where you just need an enclosure to print special materials, for a laser it’s a must. Carving or cutting anything creates a lot of smoke, and if you don’t deal with it, it will just fill up your room. You can run the laser outside or next to a large window, but it’s not a great long-term solution, especially during the colder months. Additionally, running an open frame laser engraver poses a hazard to any other person or pet who enters the room without proper safety equipment. While commercial enclosures do exist, most of them are quite expensive because shipping bulky items isn’t cheap. That’s why I’m going to show you how to build your own shell over the weekend with very few tools.
Laser technology has come a long way since the first lasers were introduced. Today, it is considered to be one of the best marking solutions for engraved metal because it provides high contrast, high quality identifiers for all types of production lines.
Manufacturers looking to engrave identifiers such as logos, serial numbers or Data Matrix codes on metal parts turn to fiber laser marking.
As a laser system manufacturer, ATOMSTACK knows how to engrave metal efficiently.
The following are our top considerations when laser marking metal.
Choosing the Right Laser Type
Fiber lasers (top) and CO2 lasers (bottom) Different types of lasers emit specific wavelengths of light depending on their gain medium. For fiber lasers, the gain medium is fiber; for CO2 lasers, it is CO2 gas. The wavelength is important because it affects how energy is absorbed by the metal.
In general, metals respond well to fiber lasers because most of them absorb their wavelengths efficiently. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose a fiber laser when engraving these metals. CO2 lasers are rarely a good choice because their wavelengths are not well absorbed.
Gather information about the metal you are marking
Every metal has different requirements and reacts differently to the laser beam, so it is critical to know the metal you intend to mark.
Below is a list of properties of common metal materials and alloys:
Aluminum: Aluminum effectively absorbs fiber lasers and can be marked at high speed.
Steel: As a hard material, steel does not mark as fast as softer metals. White markers can be created faster than black markers. If the white color contrasts sharply with the bare metal color, it should be used to speed up laser processing.
Stainless Steel: The chromium oxide layer on the metal surface must generally remain intact to prevent rusting. In these cases, the annealing process is recommended, especially in the medical and food and beverage industries.
Anodized Aluminum: Permanent marks can be created on the anodized layer or before the anodizing process. For example, to read the identifier through the anodized layer, deeper marks are required.
Copper: Copper absorbs fiber lasers less efficiently than other metals, which means high-speed marking is not possible.
Lead: Lead is easy to mark at high speed because it is one of the metals that absorbs fiber lasers most efficiently.
Optimize laser power for your cycle time
The laser power of a pulsed laser represents the average energy it releases over time, with high energy peaks represented by pulses. High-power lasers can deliver more pulses in the same amount of time, which allows them to engrave metal faster.
Below you can find examples of marking speeds for specific applications:
Laser Marking Performance on Aluminum
Stainless steel marking time on battery
Deep engraving speed on aluminum and steel
While high-power lasers are faster, they are also more expensive. You should choose a laser power that meets your cycle time while minimizing cost. Strategies can be used to minimize laser power and reduce costs. Here are some of them:
Laser engravers can include features such as a turntable to reduce cycle time.
Unimportant information can be removed to reduce the size of the identifier.
Laser configuration (parameters and optics) can be optimized for faster marking.
Choosing the Right Laser Marking Process
Some laser processes remove material from the surface, while others discolor the surface through a chemical reaction. Therefore, certain metals require specific laser marking processes.
The following are the effects of different processes on metal surfaces:
Laser Etching: As the fastest marking process, laser etching is the recommended method that prioritizes high-speed marking. This process creates a raised mark on the metal surface.
Laser Engraving: Laser engraving is slower but stronger, ensuring you get a permanent mark even if your workpiece is surface treated or subject to high wear. When laser engraver for metal, the laser beam penetrates deep into the material, just like laser cutting.
Laser Annealing: This process is used to protect bare metal or its protective coating. Unlike other options, it does not remove material from metal surfaces. Instead, it discolors the metal through a chemical reaction (passivation) that occurs under the surface.
Deep Carving: Deep carving is slower than other processes because it removes more material. It is often used to create deeper, more aesthetically pleasing marks such as logos, stamped plates and die inserts.
Laser marking will take more time if the metal surface you are engraving has been post-processed during manufacturing. This is because post-processed metal parts often require deeper engraving to remain readable.
To keep up with your cycle times, the laser power can be increased, or a turntable can be installed to engrave parts while loading other parts.
Here is an example of a patented shot-peening-resistant laser engraving:
Minimize the amount of encoded information
QR codes and QR codes If you want to mark traceability, QR codes and QR codes are great options because barcode readers can read them more reliably than serial numbers. They can also encode more information in a smaller area.
These codes consist of black and white modules or cells arranged in a square or rectangular pattern. For example, a barcode can be 18 modules wide and 18 modules high (18×18).
Code with more information requires more modules, which results in larger code or smaller cells. This causes two problems:
Larger codes require more marking time or more laser power.
Cells that are too small are more difficult for barcode readers to read and may affect the reliability of traceability.
If your traceability requirements are flexible, it is best to minimize the amount of information you encode. This will help you meet your cycle time or reduce the power required by the laser, thereby reducing its cost.
For example, if you upgrade from a 100W laser to a 50W laser, you can save thousands of dollars. Going from 20 characters to 8 characters can go a long way.
Manage dust generated during metal engraving
When laser engraving metal, metal dust released in the air can affect the performance of the laser. Some processes generate more dust than others because they remove more material.
For example, deep laser engraving is the process that generates the most dust, while laser annealing does not.
To ensure proper dust management, you should select features based on the amount of dust generated:
An air knife or blower can be installed to blow dust away from the lens, preventing dust from accumulating.
A dust collector is required to keep the air clean and prevent dust from accumulating in the laser marker.
The laser head can be properly designed for environmental protection to ensure that it is dust and waterproof.
We hope this article helped you choose the right laser system for your metal marking needs. Proper consideration can save you a lot of time and money.
”Laser” is an acronym, and the five letters of the word come from the initials of the phrase ”light amplification by stimulated emission.”
Electrons in atoms can absorb energy from light or heat only if there are transitions between energy levels that match the energy carried by photons or phonons. For light, this means that any given transition will absorb only one specific wavelength of light. Photons with the correct wavelength can make electrons jump from lower energy levels to higher energy levels. Photons are consumed in the process.
When an electron is excited from one state to a higher energy level with an energy difference ΔE, it doesn’t stay in that state forever. Eventually, a photon will spontaneously emerge from a vacuum with energy ΔE. Energy is conserved, electrons transition to unoccupied lower energy levels, to different energy levels with different time constants. This process is called ”spontaneous emission”. Spontaneous emission is a quantum mechanical effect and a direct physical manifestation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. The emitted photons have random directions, but their wavelengths match the absorption wavelengths of the transitions. This is the mechanism of fluorescence and thermal emission.
Absorption of photons with the correct wavelength by the transition can also cause electrons to drop from higher to lower levels, emitting new photons. The emitted photons are perfectly matched to the original photons in wavelength, phase and direction. This process is called stimulated emission.
Lasers do not exist in nature. However, we have found ways to artificially create this particular type of light. Lasers produce a narrow beam of light where all light waves have very similar wavelengths. The light waves of a laser travel with their crests, or in phase. That’s why the laser beam is very narrow, very bright, and can be focused on a very small spot. Because the laser remains focused and doesn’t spread too much, the laser beam can travel great distances. They can also focus a lot of energy on a very small area.
So we already know that lasers are powerful because laser beams can be focused to very small points, to very high irradiance levels, and laser beams can be kept narrow over great distances, with these properties, lasers can be used in a variety of Applications such as laser cutting, laser engraving, lithography, laser pointers and lidar.
The pulsed operation of a laser refers to any laser that is not a continuous wave, so the optical power appears in pulses of a certain duration at a certain repetition rate. This includes a wide range of techniques that address many different motivations. This application requires the generation of pulses with as large an energy as possible. Since the pulse energy is equal to the average power divided by the repetition rate, this can sometimes be achieved by reducing the pulse frequency so that more energy is built up between pulses. For example, in laser ablation, if a small amount of material on the surface of the workpiece is heated for a short period of time, it can be evaporated, while providing energy gradually will cause the heat to be absorbed into the bulk of the workpiece. A piece, never reaches a high enough temperature at a particular point.
How is the laser beam generated?
The laser cavity or resonator is the heart of the system. In some high-gain devices, a single transmission through a group of excited atoms or molecules is sufficient to initiate lasing; however, for most lasers, multiple passes through the lasing medium are required to further increase the gain. This is achieved along an optical axis defined by a set of cavity mirrors that generate feedback. The lasing medium is placed along the optical axis of the resonator. This unique axis with very high optical gain also becomes the propagation direction of the laser beam. A slightly different example of a uniquely long gain axis is a fiber laser.
The simplest cavity is defined by two mirrors facing each other—a total reflector and a partial reflector, whose reflectivity can vary between 30% and close to 100%. Light bounces back and forth between these mirrors, increasing in intensity each time it passes through the gain medium. Photons that are spontaneously emitted in directions other than the axis are simply lost and do not contribute to laser operation. As the laser is amplified, some of the light exits the cavity or oscillator through the partial reflector; however, in equilibrium, these ”optical losses” are perfectly compensated by the optical gain experienced by the continuous round-trip of photons within the cavity.
Lasers, while not a new technology, have become a revolutionary alternative to commodity and product marking and labeling. Laser-marked labels are highly detailed, legible, and can withstand heavy wear without erasing. In addition, the laser marking process generates minimal waste and is very compatible with modern automated CNC processes.
Those who want to engage in laser marking first need to be familiar with these terms. The industry uses two main techniques – laser etching and laser engraving. Although very similar, we will discuss the key differences between them here.
Perfect for the following models: A5 20W, A5 30W, A5 Pro, A5 Pro+, A5 M40, A5 M30, P7 M40, P7 M30, P9 M40, P9 M50, X7 Pro, A10 Pro, S10 Pro.
Laser etching produces high-contrast marks on materials by firing a high-energy laser beam. This causes the molten material to expand before it resolidifies, creating a noticeable bulge.
One feature of laser etching is that it can create features no deeper than 0.001 inches. This does not mean that the marks made by etching are less prominent. The melting process changes the composition of the material and allows it to contrast with the original material. This contrast is reflected not only in the tone of the material, but also in its reflectivity and texture.
Compared to engraving, laser etching can create marks without removing a lot of material. This makes laser etching more suitable when dealing with very thin metal layers or fragile objects. Jewelry, especially jewelry made of precious metals or glass, is often processed using laser etching. Laser etching can also be performed on ceramics, polymers, or metal-plated materials.
Laser etching excels at creating marks that are as visible and prominent as possible. With different techniques, laser etching can produce black and white markings on a variety of surfaces. Laser etching is very effective in this regard and is often used in conjunction with laser engraving if a manufacturer wishes to add more contrast to an engraved design.
Laser etching can generally be done on any material with just one pass through the laser beam. Since laser etching affects only a very small amount of material, it is a very fast process. This is a huge benefit for mass manufacturing or any process that requires a quick turnaround. Compared to laser engraving, laser etching is about twice as fast.
Laser etching does not require the use of high-intensity lasers, nor does it take a long time to process a single workpiece. This makes laser etching a low-power alternative to laser engraving. If you’re processing thousands of laser-marked products per day, this difference in energy usage can have a huge impact on electricity-related expenses.
The biggest disadvantage of using laser etching is that its markings are really only superficially deep. These are visible as long as they are kept clean. However, markings made from laser etching are easily obscured by a thick layer of dirt and dust.
Additionally, severe or constant wear can cause laser-etched markings to be completely erased. This makes laser etching less than ideal for objects that will be used outdoors or designed to withstand repeated wear or applied friction. In terms of durability and longevity, laser etching is significantly inferior to laser engraving.
What sets laser engraving apart is that it uses a high-powered laser beam to engrave designs into the material. In this case, the design is cut deep—usually in the range of 0.02 to 0.125 inches. Deep cut designs made by laser engraving can withstand high wear. Therefore, laser engraving is the technology of choice for controlling important marks such as numbering and serial numbers.
Laser engraving creates deep marks by applying enough energy to instantly vaporize the material. This is a fairly power-intensive process that may require multiple passes of the laser along the same point to achieve the desired engraving depth.
Marks produced by laser engraving cannot be easily erased by mechanical or chemical methods. This permanent state is one of the main reasons why manufacturers choose to engrave markings rather than printing them with ink. Laser-engraved markings will remain legible even in outdoor or heavy-duty conditions for years of use.
More commonly, laser-engraved marks are post-processed to make them more visually appealing or to enhance contrast. It is common for a laser-engraved mark to change its color with another pass of laser etching.
Another method is to use ink or dye to infuse color into the engraved design. This is more common when a trademark is associated with a brand, such as in a logo or company name.
In this case, most industry experts recommend laser etching unless you need the wear resistance and durability of laser engraving.
Laser etching is cheaper, faster, and can produce semi-permanent and highly visible marks. It’s also more versatile in terms of materials that can be used, since it only creates a mark of surface depth.
Laser engraving produces a more permanent mark that cannot be removed even with severe wear. This makes it ideal where permanent marking is required, such as in part serial numbers for traceability. However, it may not be suitable for mass manufacturing because it is slow and requires enormous power.
While both laser etching and laser engraving are excellent marking options, manufacturers are encouraged to consider laser etching first as it is more practical. When laser etching is not suitable for the job, laser engraving will be seen as a second option to consider.
Laser marking technology is rapidly gaining acceptance as a superior alternative to more traditional marking methods using mechanical force or colorants. They are fast, easy to automate, reliable, require minimal human intervention, and generate minimal waste.
Laser etching and laser engraving represent the two main methods of marking by laser technology. Although their results may look similar, each method takes a very different approach to making clear and permanent marks on the workpiece. As with any manufacturing method, getting the most out of laser marking requires understanding exactly how the technology works.