laser engraving machine

A Few Notes Before Laser Engraving Metal

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.

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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.

Air Assist for Laser Engraver

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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.
Consider post-processing
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.

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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.
in conclusion
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.

What is a laser?

”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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

How is laser etching different from laser engraving?

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.

Laser Engraver

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Advantages of large format laser cutters and engravers

Laser cutters and engravers come in so many shapes and sizes that it can be difficult to figure out what works best for your individual needs and application. Sometimes you have large projects that need to be cut or engraved, but you don’t have enough room to work. Sometimes you’re looking for an industrial-scale output from a laser that can handle repetitive items quickly and accurately. Whether you have faced some of the challenges listed above, or you just know you need a large format laser cutter and engraver, this article will help you understand the situation so you can make an informed decision.

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What are large format laser cutters and engravers?
Large format generally refers to an expanded or enlarged version of the typical size of the product. In this case, we take the term and apply it to CO2 laser cutters and engravers. Standard-sized laser cutters and engravers are available in the Muse Series and P-Series lineup of laser systems, as well as some large-format laser cutter and engraver options.

Large Format Desktop Laser System
The most common desktop lasers, such as the Muse Core and 3D Autofocus, are considered standard sized CO2 laser cutters and engravers. Both machines are based on the same platform and feature a 20″ x 12″ laser work area. This workspace size would be considered a typical work area for cutting and engraving most projects.

These two machines are great if you have a limited physical location or budget to buy a laser system. Since they are tabletop units, they can be easily installed in almost any room or workspace, and they are very easy to move from one location to another.

Laser Engraver

Sometimes your project will be larger than the workspace that will fit in one of these standard laser machines. If this is the case, and you already own one of these machines, or if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy a larger unit, there may still be options to enable your laser machine to cut and engrave on a larger scale. Muse Series desktop laser systems do just that. One option for Muse is to use the included patented removable floor. You can remove the floor from the machine, place the laser on top of the larger sized item that needs to be cut or engraved, then use the reference markers in the RetinaEngrave software to break the design into smaller pieces and you’re ready to go. Bigger Another option for range cutting or engraving is to use the latest version of the optional Muse Swivel Riser Combo Attachment, which includes front and rear access doors so you can engrave longer pieces of material without having to lift and place the entire Muse on the material .

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If you find yourself with more budget at your disposal, a large format laser machine like the Muse Titan will be a more convenient option for large format projects. The workspace inside the Muse Titan is 48 inches long and 24 inches deep. This will significantly increase your capabilities and efficiency compared to most standard CO2 laser cutter and engraver models.

If you find you still need to use larger materials, the Titan has built-in pass-through doors on the front and rear of the case, and it also features a patented removable floor like the aforementioned Muse Core and 3D autofocus models.

Large format laser cutters and engravers like the Muse Titan are perfect if you know you’ll be working with large projects and materials a lot. Not only does it have a larger work area, but it also has higher power options (75W, 90W, 100W) than the standard for premium desktops (40W, 45W). This increased power will allow you to cut thicker materials and engrave deeper at higher speeds.

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Large Format Industrial Laser Systems
If you find that you need to get work done faster, perhaps on an industrial scale, and the need for faster turnaround times increases, you might consider a high-volume floor-standing unit like the P-Series laser. These laser systems are available in a variety of size and power options and work well in industrial warehouse environments. Advanced benchtop lasers can also work in some of these situations, but when a floor-standing unit with a higher capacity is required, a higher-capacity industrial laser may be the way to go.

The World’s First Diode 20W Laser Engraver

The S20 Pro will be equipped with a quad-core super laser module with a laser power output of 20W. It consists of four 6W laser beams coupled into a single 20W super laser beam, which can easily cut 12mm boards at one time.

We could see that the Atomstack S20 Pro will come with air boost that is said to be better than the first generation, giving away to customers for free. Air assist is very important for laser cutting machines. It can effectively reduce the temperature of the surface of the material, so that the laser will not burn the surface. It can also blow away the impurity particles generated during the cutting process, so that dust will not adhere to the surface of the material. Laser lens.

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It is worth mentioning that the S20 Pro will include its own developed APP, which users can control through their mobile phones. However, I personally think it is better to use professional software like Lightburn or LaserGRBL for complex jobs.

The world’s first 20W optical power laser engraving machine. The laser output power has increased sharply. Using the latest generation of four-way 6W laser coupling technology, it can cut 12-15mm thick tungsten plate and 8mm thick black acrylic plate at one time, and even cut 0.05mm thick stainless steel plate.

The product comes standard with the F30 Pro Upgraded Pneumatic Power Kit: the cutting capacity is greatly improved, and the cutting accuracy and quality are optimized to a considerable extent.

Newly upgraded 32-bit motherboard independently developed by Atomstack : built-in 256-bit color code, finer engraving effect and higher contrast. Now your projects are no longer just black!

X-axis and Y-axis have precise tick marks, which is convenient for quick length measurement. 400x400mm large area engraving interval.

The new S20/A20/X20 laser has a built-in tool-free focusing module and built-in air-assist system, enjoying simple beauty and wireless freedom.

The ultra-fine laser focusing area is reduced to 0.08*0.1mm, and the high-density laser can easily cut 25mm thick wood and 30mm thick black acrylic; it can directly engrave mirror stainless steel metal, ceramics, glass, engraving & cutting speed ratio The ordinary model is increased by 40%, which is comparable to the effect of the 300W CO₂ laser engraver .

Atomstack self-developed mobile APP has now landed in major Android application markets and Apple For APPstore (the APP can also be downloaded by scanning the QR code of the manual). Mini size and versatile.

The panoramic filter glass protective cover has a good protective effect on the eyes, filtering 97% of ultraviolet rays, you and the people around you do not need to wear goggles, you can also watch the laser engraving.

There is no need to adjust the focus before engraving; the focal spot area of ​​the new laser is only 1/3 of the spot area of ​​other ordinary lasers, combining precise engraving and high-energy cutting at the same time. The laser power of fixed-focus lasers is more stable than that of variable-focus lasers.

This machine is compatible with a variety of mature engraving software, such as LaserGRBL, LightBurn, supports Win XP/Win 7/Win 8/XP/Win 10, also supports Mac system (LightBurn), and the engraving file format supports CNC, BMP , JPG, PNG, DXF, etc.

This machine adopts integrated lead screw instead of combined coupling. The stepping motor and the screw are integrally formed, making the laser movement more precise and the coupling more durable.

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Laser height adjustment is more convenient and quicker.

ATOMSTACK S20/A20/X20 PRO is equipped with a terminal control panel, supports offline engraving, and is not restricted by the computer, so you can engrave at any time and anywhere.

In case of unexpected situations, stop the machine at any time to make engraving safer.

The modular design of the body mechanism, only need to replace the frame components, you can get a 400*850mm large engraving size.

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The entire setup of the laser engraver takes only 10 minutes. Descriptions including illustrations are exemplary. The screws are even packed together according to individual steps, so assembly is no problem at all, even for the absolute layman. We’ve been enthusiastic so far – with this no-hassle build and good written documentation, some 3D printer makers could learn a lot from it.

After construction was completed, we first looked for an open space in the basement. This should provide enough space and have ventilation options. If you have pets or children in your home, you should also ensure that they cannot access the laser while it is running.

The planks below not only protect the floor or table top, but also serve as a positioning aid. Before carving, we draw a perfectly fitting frame around our subject and burn it into the plank. So we can see exactly where we have to place the actual workpiece.

The main software recommended by the manufacturer is LaserGRBL open source software. This worked, but we found it relatively confusing, cumbersome, and less intuitive. As an alternative, we therefore use a software called Lightburn, also named by the manufacturer. The program costs less than 40 euros, but you can try it for free for 30 days. If you choose a laser engraver, you should also plan for this budget. From our perspective, the investment is worth it.

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After launching the software and setting up the connected laser once, Lightburn will display the engraver’s workspace. Now import the desired template, pixel or vector graphics and adjust the size and position. Besides JPEG, TIFF or DXF, the software supports many other formats. We now place a frame around the object and adjust the settings for speed and laser power. As a first step, we just issued the frame and burned it into our base to determine the exact location of the engraving. Then we locate the actual workpiece and output the desired pattern in the second step.

The laser now follows the pattern and burns it into the underlying surface. The laser changes speed and power to show shades of gray. The result is aging zones of different widths, which can be more or less easily distinguished depending on the material. Small fonts take just a few minutes to complete, while larger pieces take longer. In Lightburn you can see how long the whole process takes.

The Atomstack A5 is easy to use and suitable for users with 3D printing experience and those with a basic understanding of the technology. At the beginning of the test, we only cared about the reliability of the goggles and goggles. Since our engraver is on the ground, the included privacy screen alone will do the job well. If the laser were on the table, the angle would be different and the privacy screen would be largely useless. But with the glasses on, we felt fine and were able to watch the laser for a few minutes at work without feeling any negative effects. Even if you don’t look directly at the laser, headaches and burning eyes can be signs of damage. You really have to be careful here! Using such a machine is not without risk. You have to decide for yourself whether you want to do this. It’s safest if you just observe the work process with a camera.

Engraved leather or imitation leather also works well. However, the smoke and smell are really unpleasant. You should work with low power here so as not to burn the material. While the attempt with the smartphone case looked fine, the loose leather deformed violently during the engraving process. To get good results, the material must be stretched onto a piece of wood. Headphone cases made of faux leather are much better sculpted. Here, we limit performance to 35%.

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If you don’t trust the included glasses, you can also purchase protective glasses for that wavelength separately. In the medium term, we’ll still be tinkering with a box that acts as a privacy screen. This will reduce the risk to pets and family members and allow an efficient extraction device to be installed. Even if the laser only removes a thin layer of the surface, those layers will burn, creating smoke and odors in the process.

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