In almost every manufacturing industry, the need for marking, engraving, embossing or tagging is always there. Different industries use different types of markers. Thus, it all comes down to the type of compatible material. For heavy industrial complexes where metallic parts are being made primarily, industrialists use CNC Milling machines or the dot peen marking machines. However, if we shift our focus to non-metallic parts, CO2 laser technology comes into play. This latest laser technology, which constitutes of CO2 laser marking technology and CNC laser engraving technology, is covering almost every drawback of the conventional CNC milling machines. They are easy to use, fast, more accurate and precise in their work.
CO2 Laser Marking Machines
CO2 laser marking machines are one of the laser marking machine variants in the market that offer engraving and etching by employing laser. These Laser marking machines use the latest and cutting edge technology that give you the ease of working on the job. Hence, you can create your design easily and within no time. Simply make up your design and feed it to your laser marker, the rest becomes history.
While we talk about laser marking machines, we need to know what CO2 laser marking machines are and why are they distinguished from other marking setups? There are mainly two types of CO2 laser marking machines; CO2 laser marking machines with galvanometer head and CO2 CNC laser engraving machines. Both of them have their own sets of features, applications, cost structures, and outputs.
In this article, we will talk about these two laser engraving marking machines and give you brief guidance about choosing the best laser marking machine for your industry.
Before we begin, allow us to give you a brief knowledge of how a CO2 laser marking machine works.
All About Laser:
As the name suggests, CO2 laser marking machines use CO2 laser molecules. These molecules constitute a mixture of some inert gases like Helium, Xenon, nitrogen, hydrogen and water vapors. This mixture of gases is converted into a laser because of a gas discharge that takes place due to AC or DC current. As a result of this discharge, nitrogen reacts with the CO2 molecules and produces a laser beam. It also gives rise to some carbon monoxide.
The laser that is produced is accompanied by an infrared light having wavelengths of 9.6µm and 10.6µm. The laser penetrates into the material which induces heat. Helium comes into play at this stage which helps with the heat removal. The other two constituents namely Hydrogen and water vapor help in converting carbon monoxide, produced during discharge, into carbon dioxide.
What type of materials can CO2 laser marking machines work on?
First off, the basic requirement for a CO2 laser marking machine is non-metallic and organic material. Some common non-metals and organic materials that can be worked upon with the help of CO2 laser marking machines are as follows:
Now that we know what kind of material we can work on, let’s ask ourselves a few questions and identify a few things, as below:
- The type of material that we need to work on.
- The required speed of the marking.
- The skill of the operator
- Depth of the required engrave
- Strength of the laser
To answer all these questions, let’s discuss the two types of CO2 laser machines; CO2 laser machines with a galvanometer and CO2 laser engraving machines with CNC.
CO2 Laser Marking Machines with Galvanometer:
Lasers markers that come up with galvanometer are high-speed laser engravers or markers that can get your job done within seconds. CO2 galvanometer marking machines employ a CO2 metal tube or CO2 glass tube as the source of the laser. The laser in the marking machine travels via mirrors using the principle of reflection. Subsequently, these mirrors focus the laser on the material. It gets the input from the 2d drawing or file. The fact that differentiates the construction of the galvanometer marker from that of the CNC laser marker is that the laser in the former is right behind the head.
The game-changing fact in the laser markers is the distance of the laser from the workpiece. In galvanometer laser markers, the distance between the laser head and workpiece is usually 25cm-50cm which is considerably high.
Features of the Galvanometer markers
Due to a lengthy distance between the laser head and the workpiece, galvanometer markers can engrave light materials like paper, acrylic, leather, and denim. However, even though the distance in the galvanometer type is lengthy, the speed and accuracy are the main features of this type. It can engrave any non-metallic part with high speed and good intricacy.
The high speed of the galvanometer type is mainly because two servo motors drive the laser head instead of stepping motors. The speed of this marker reaches up to 3000 to 10000mm per second. The working area of the galvanometer type varies on the basis of the wattage of the machine. Some general working areas are given as follows:
Applications of Galvano Laser Markers
The major applications of a Galvano laser marker include marking on products like ceramic, glass, rubber, paper etc. It doesn’t involve deeper cuttings just a little engraving. People mostly use it for branding purposes and the precision it offers is second to none.
A great example of a CO2 laser marking machine with a Galvano head is the HeatSign’s CO2 laser marker which has four key points when it comes to the reputation; precision, versatility, performance and long-lasting.
This HLS-CL 30 CO2 laser marker contains an imported 30W RF laser module with an output quality laser beam having a laser spot of 0.07mm. This CO2 Laser Marking Machine is designed for marking a wide-range of non-metals with high accuracy and excellent marking speed.
This laser module supports long and continuous working hours of up to 24 hours and gives a long working life more than 20000 hours. Designed with an air cooling system, the 30W CO2 Laser Marking System offers a major advantage as it requires no maintenance and no consumables.
As a high-end non-metal parts marking solution, the HS-CL30 30W CO2 laser engraver is also perfect for marking any production line dealing with plastic, leather, paper, cardboard, wood etc.
CO2 Laser CNC Engraving Machines:
Just like the CO2 galvanometer laser marking machine, the CNC laser marker is also composed of a laser source which is either a metallic tube or a glass tube. The inside of the CNC marker has a gantry system. The laser head moves across with the help of stepper motors. Subsequently, there are three mirrors through which the laser passes on to the material with the help of a lens.
The distance between the workpiece and the laser head is considerably less as compared to the galvanometer type. It is usually around 3-5cm apart. Due to this small distance, this type of laser marking machine can easily cut materials instead of just engraving on them.
Features of the CO2 Laser CNC Marking Machines
The speed, however, is less as compared to the galvanometer type. It can cut materials like wood with a depth of 20cm but with a speed of 80-600mm per second. The maximum speed that can be achieved with the help of CNC laser engraving machine is 600mm per second. The marking areas depending upon the wattage of the machine are as follows:
When it comes to the CNC CO2 laser engraver, the cost is a big concern hence we won’t lure you into a big machine with a big fat cost receipt. For that matter, we have chosen BobsCNC E3 CNC Router Engraver Kit because it has a cheaper tag and big value for money. Its specialty is wood. Consequently, this machine offers great precision in cutting and engraving on wood.
The structure of BobsCNC employs a rail system and a belt driver. It can move in both coordinate axes i.e. X and Y-axis. The total area includes 25x25x19 inches. Most of the laser marking machines either have their own programs or they are compatible with limited platforms. Thus, offering very low customization. BobsCNC provides an edge when it comes to customization. It can easily connect up not only with windows, MAC and Linux but also with raspberry pi, too. Because of adding a processor (raspberry) with this beast, you don’t have to buy a full-sized computer to run it up. The cherry on top is that it’s Amazon’s editor’s best pick in laser engraving machines, too.
It also comes with a router in another model. The only difference is that it contains more metal in the frame thus making it heavier and stable.
Comparison: CO2 Laser Marking Machines vs CO2 Laser Engraving Machine
- The structure of both machines is totally different from each other. While the Galvano head CO2 laser marker is like any simple machine, the CNC CO2 laser engravers use the rail system because they have to work on a coordinate system because of CNC. The structure of both machines can play an important role while choosing the machine. Your production line may suit adopt Galvo head CO2 laser marking machine because it can keep high speed working.
- The type of operating these machines do slightly differ in a way that the CO2 laser markers are mostly used for etching and marking on the non-metallic surfaces. The maximum depth that they can achieve is 20mm while the CNC CO2 laser engravers can cut deep into the materials.
- The speed of both the machines vary. Galvanometer Laser marker has a high speed of marking as compared to the CNC CO2 engraver. Since the CNC engraver has to follow a rail system based on coordinate axes, it can never achieve the speed of a Galvano laser marker no matter how efficient the machine gets.
- Finishing of CNC C02 laser engraving machines is way better than the CO2 galvanometer laser machines. Not that the Galvano heads don’t offer good finish, they are pretty decent in their job, too. But, when it comes to the comparison between the two, CNC CO2 wins it.
Quality and Precision
- The distance between the head of both machines is different. CO2 Galvanometer marking machines usually have a greater distance between the laser head and the workpiece. CNC CO2, on the other hand, is only 3cm away from the workpiece. The decrease in distance however doesn’t relate with the quality. CO2 galvanometer laser markers are more stable, can support longer working hours and offer high precision as compared to CNC laser engravers.
- Due to deeper cuts, CNC CO2 engravers can engrave wood and acrylic, too. This gives them a superiority over the CO2 galvanometer laser marking machines. The more diversity a machine can offer; the better suitability it offers for the job. Now that you have sufficient knowledge of what these two kinds of machines are, you can pretty well buy your machine without having to consult some technicians and falling for steeper prices. It all depends on what kind of job you want from the machine.
If speed and engraving are what you desire, CO2 galvanometer laser markers should be your first choice. However, if cutting depth and precision are your ultimate goals, you might want to look out for a CO2 CNC laser engraving machine. Rest assured, these laser marking machines are the future of marking systems. As a result, they are replacing the conventional milling machines or stamps that were being used for marking and identification. These laser markers not only do the job but they also add to the decor of the workpiece. Thus, invest now in a good laser marking machine and show your customers that you’re a good professional who has an eye for the customer’s needs.