Laser engravers have made things a lot easier for business owners looking to get their parts marked and shipped off as fast as possible. The technology has evolved to the point where we can engrave any type of material on earth, usually with stunning speed and accuracy. But if you need deep engraving done on metal parts, even the standard fiber laser engraver won’t cut it.
Deep metal engraving requires a machine with special abilities like high Single Pule Energy that most other types do not have. For those of you who need this type of marking done on your parts, you’ll need a deep metal laser engraving machine.
Deep metal laser engravers operate at a higher power level than the average laser engraver. Although, many companies that sell such items will tell you there isn’t any difference between the two. The reality is that deep metal engraving puts a special kind of strain on the machine, 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, “PLOT-M”.
As far as deep metal marking with a laser goes, power is everything. If you don’t have a high enough power level from your laser, your machine will not be able to engrave things deep enough. It also might wear out or break down faster than usual, because the demands placed on the laser are too high for it to sustain.
For this part of the strategy, it all comes down to how deep you want your markings to be. If you are only looking to create permanent marks that will last a long time, a 20W or 30W machine should work fine for you. However, you might have special requirements for your engraving depth that are deeper than average. If so, you’re much better off going with 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. The engraving tolerance is also dependent on your removal rate. Some machines have a faster removal rate but are much less accurate because of this. If you want both pinpoint accuracy and a high removal rate, you’ll need some extra features. You might need to look for a machine with sub-systems like devices used for depth measurement.
These devices might come in the form of a laser measuring tool or a mechanical probe. Both will cost you extra, but if it’s quality you’re looking for these things matter when choosing what kind of fiber laser engraver to buy.
One example of a good, high-powered fiber laser engraver would be the HS-FL60 HeatSign Fiber Laser Marking Machine Stand Model 60W. Another example would be the 60W MOPA fiber laser marking machine,which can support a good color marking on stainless steel. Remember to take some of the variables discussed above into play when deciding between machines like these.
2. Laser Source
While the power level of your fiber laser engraver is important, the source of its power is equally important. The laser source is what actually covert electric energy power to laser power that can be used for engraving.
Many lower quality laser engravers might have a weak or “jumpy” laser source, which can lead to mistakes and inaccurate engraving at times. You’ll want to find a laser engraver with a stable and reliable laser source if you want 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 take into consideration that you might not have thought of is the operation of your machine. This has to do with both the ease with which your engraver can be operated, and who you have operating it. You should consult with your employees to see what their level of expertise is with different machines.
If you don’t feel that your current employees are capable of operating a very complex engraver, this should factor into your decision. You might simply 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 there is no information on guidebooks available, you can always directly contact the supplier. They might offer manual or video that can help you operate your machine with as few mistakes and errors as possible.
When assessing the user-friendliness of a fiber laser marker, the type of software it uses is the main thing to be concerned with. The deeper, more accurate, and high-speed you want your machine to be, the more complex your operating software will need to be.
You’ll want to make sure that your machine has a strong export/import functionality. Order tracking, file management, and programming functionality are also important. Especially if you plan on using your engraver to mark products for different industries.
A good software package for a laser engraver should include hatching, post-processing for galvanometer programming, plotting, contouring, and 2D graphics modules. It should also have special functions which can aid in the texturing of surfaces.
If you run a very diverse business that depends on the utility of a laser engraving machine, you’ll need more diversity. Having access to all these different features could mean the difference between meeting your output goals or sinking under the weight of your own expectations.
Another factor to take into consideration is the technological capability of your machine. And, how well it might be able to adapt to new advancements. You might buy a machine, only to despair as a new one with twice the capabilities is invented the next year. As time goes on, you might wish you had chosen a machine that was more able to 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 were in possession of a laser engraver that was able to 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 more easily make deep engravings. You could also gain the ability to auto adjust laser focus.
These added attributes would be much appreciated by almost any parts producer. Being able to gain them without buying a brand new machine could be one of the most important features you look for in a new fiber laser machine.
Other technological features you might want to take into account would be things like laser safety per the CDRH requirements for laser classification and ergonomics like workpiece sizes and weights. Fume extraction, waste removal ability for things like dross, smoke, or splatter, facility considerations like plant conditions and machine size, and environmental factors should also factor in.
To find out which of these attributes would be most useful for you, you’ll need to make an assessment of your own values. 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 look at when deciding on a deep engraving machine is the material with which you’ll be working. 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 metals such as brass and aluminum are far easier to perform deep engraving on. Harder metals like steel and titanium are more difficult, however. Alloys like copper, brass aluminum will also have an impact on the optimal peak and average power requirements of your laser. Tool steels will also have the same impact.
For example, carbon-based steels need higher pulse lengths as well as 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 have a big impact on the ideal configurations of your laser engraver.
You might already have a fiber laser engraver in your possession that’s not able to work with the material you have. In this case, you may want to consider switching out 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 go around and test it on different machines to see how they perform, and you won’t have to make any changes to 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 find out which one will perform the best for you.
Searching for a deep laser engraver is no simple task. These machines are very expensive and it’s important for you as a business owner that you get it right on the first try. Making a mistake during this decision could be very costly for you.
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 be using when shopping for a machine. Depending on the depth of engraving you need, you may need more or less power from your laser. Keeping the laser source in mind is important as well because a weak or shaky laser source could end up causing quality problems in your end product.
Who is operating your machine is just as important as its physical attributes and capabilities. Make sure your employees are equipped with the right amount of know-how before you buy a machine. If they do not have the expertise needed to operate your engraver or other marking machines, you can go with a simpler model. Or, you might be able to get a detail guidebook from the manufacturer which you can use to train them.
In addition to those factors, you’ll also want to think about what kind of technology you’re working with. Some machines aren’t equipped with certain attributes like waste control methods or adaptable laser heads. These characteristics could turn out to be vital in your engraving efforts, however. If you’re engraving on uneven surfaces or a variety of different products you might also want a more technologically advanced machine.
And finally, the last part of the PLOT-M strategy is to think about the material you’ll be using. If you don’t already have a machine, you should test your material on a variety of different models. You don’t want to have to change your material because your machine can’t handle it. Softer metals like copper, brass, and aluminum will need smaller pulse lengths. They’ll also need greater peak power pulses. Harder materials such as carbon-steels used for tools will need the opposite.
The characteristics of your parts will also have an impact on what laser engraver you should use. Variations in cycle time, weight and size, workpiece orientation, loading/unloading, and workpiece fixturing will all play into your final decision.
While this can be a lot to remember, as long as you follow the simple PLOT-M strategy laid out above you should be fine. Finding the ideal deep metal laser engraver for your shop is as simple as following the steps in order. When followed to a tee, this guide will help you save money, avoid disaster, and maximize your profits. It will also help you put out the highest quality product, in the fastest time possible.