Fiber laser engravers have made things much easier for business owners to get their parts marked and shipped off as quickly as possible. However, for deep engraving on metal parts, even standard engraving machine metal will not cut it. This is because deep metal engraving requires a machine with special abilities like high Single Pule Energy, which most other types do not have, and they operate at a higher power level than the average laser engraver.
Such heavy requirement puts a special strain on the engraving machine metal, requiring it to have more power, so it doesn’t burn out. As such, it can be hard to determine which machine is best for your needs. That’s why HeatSign has developed a strategy you can use called “PLOT-M.” strategy. This article talks about the strategy, and how you can apply it to choosing the right laser engraving machine metal.
What is the “PLOT-M Strategy”
PLOT-M Strategy was developed by HeatSign and it serves as a guideline for buyers on how to choose the right laser engraving machine metal:
As far as deep metal marking with a laser goes, power is everything. If your laser doesn’t have a high enough power level, your machine cannot engrave things deep enough. It also might wear out or break down faster than usual because the demands on the laser are too high to sustain.
This part of the strategy all comes down to how deep you want your markings to be. If you only want to create permanent marks that will last a long time, a 20W or 30W machine should work fine. However, you might have special requirements for your engraving depth that are deeper than average. If so, you’re better off using a fiber laser that can operate at 50W or 60W.
Knowing how deep you want your markings to be will allow you to adjust for variables. These include resonator set-up, beam expansion, mode structure, and focal length.
Examples of suitable deep marking laser engraving metal machines are the HS-FL60 HeatSign Fiber Laser Marking Machine Stand Model 60W and the 60W MOPA fiber laser marking machine (with color support for stainless steel).
2. Laser Source
While the power level of your fiber laser engraver is important, its power source is equally important. The laser source covert electric energy power to laser power. Many lower-quality laser engravers might have a weak or “jumpy” laser source, sometimes leading to mistakes and inaccurate engraving. You’ll want to find a laser engraver with a stable and reliable laser source to get the best results from your deep engraving efforts.
China currently produces a few excellent laser sources offered by brands such as JPT, Raycus, and Max. These laser sources are known to be durable as well as stable. Another great option for a strong and stable laser source is the German brand IPG.
One major factor you should consider is the operation of your machine. This has to do with both the ease of operating the engraver and the worker. In terms of handling, you should consult with your employees to see their expertise level with different machines. Your decision should factor the ability of your current employees can operate a complex engraver.
You might need to look for a machine that is a bit simpler to use. Or one that comes with a detailed and easy-to-understand guidebook. If no guidebook information is available, you can always directly contact the supplier. They might offer a manual or video to help you operate your machine with as few mistakes and errors as possible.
Another factor that determines the ease of operation is the type of software the machine uses. The deeper, more accurate, and high-speed you want your machine to be, the more complex your operating software will need to be. Other factors that relate to software ease of operation include
- Strong export/import functionality.
- Order tracking, file management, and programming functionality for engravers that you want to use to mark products for different industries.
- Hatching, post-processing for galvanometer programming, plotting, contouring, and 2D graphics modules.
- Special functions that can aid in surface texturing.
If you run a very diverse business that depends on the utility of a laser engraving machine, you’ll need more diversity. Access to all these different features could mean the difference between meeting your output goals or sinking under the weight of your expectations.
Another factor to take into consideration is the technological capability of your machine how well it might be able to adapt to new advancements. You might buy the machine, only to despair as a new one with twice the capabilities is invented the next year. As time passes, you might wish you had chosen the machine that could adapt to new inventions and evolution in the fiber laser engraving industry.
Metal engraving tools like the 3D galvanometer head for fiber lasers are just one example of new technology that can be extremely useful. For instance, if you possessed a laser engraver that could adopt this galvanometer head, you might gain many abilities. These could include the ability to make engravings on surfaces that are uneven and the ability to make deep engravings more easily. You could also gain the ability to auto-adjust laser focus.
Almost any parts producer would much appreciate these added attributes. Gaining them without buying a new machine could be one of the most important features you look for in a new fiber laser machine.
Other technological features include laser safety per the CDRH requirements for laser classification and ergonomics, like workpiece sizes and weights. Fume extraction, waste removal ability for dross, smoke, or splatter, facility considerations like plant conditions and machine size, and environmental factors should also factor in.
You’ll need to assess your values to find out which attributes would be most useful for you. Don’t forget to think about the capabilities and limitations of your plant as well.
Of course, one of the most important things you should consider when deciding on a deep engraving machine is the material you’ll be working with. Some materials are much easier to engrave than others. This means they might not need the same features or abilities from your machine as other, harder materials.
For instance, it’s well known that brass and aluminum are far easier to perform deep engraving on. Harder metals like steel and titanium are more difficult, however. Alloys like copper and brass aluminum will also impact your laser’s optimal peak and average power requirements. Tool steels will also have the same impact.
For example, carbon-based steels need higher pulse lengths and lower peak power pulses than softer metals like aluminum. Also, the physical attributes of your final product will factor in as well. Things like cycle time, unloading/loading, workpiece fixturing, weight and size, and workpiece orientation will also greatly impact the ideal configurations of your laser engraver.
You might already have a fiber laser engraver in your possession that cannot deep engrave with the material you have. In this case, you may consider switching your material for another one that works better with your machine.
However, the best way to go about this process is to get your material first. Then you can test it on different machines to see how they perform, and you won’t have to change your product. Try your material out on different machines like a fiber laser, CO2 laser, UV laser, green laser, and others. This will help you determine which will perform the best for you.
Watch How a Fiber Laser Machine Achieves Deep Metal Engraving on Aluminum
Searching for a deep laser engraver is no simple task. These machines are very expensive, and making a mistake during this decision could be very costly. This is why you should follow the PLOT-M strategy laid out by HeatSign if you want to avoid mistakes. Consider the power, laser source, operation, technology, and material you’ll use when shopping for a machine.
While this can be a lot to remember, if you follow the simple PLOT-M strategy above, you should be fine. Finding the ideal deep metal laser engraver for your shop is as simple as following the steps. This guide will help you save money, avoid disaster, and maximize your profits when followed to a tee. It will also help you deliver the highest quality product in the fastest time possible.