Surface engraving has a history that goes far back to the Middle Stone Age. A time when people with vast knowledge would chisel writings on bones, Ivory, and rocks. The method has now evolved, finding application in decoration and identification of products.
Industrial regulations have made it mandatory for vendors and manufacturers to identify their products with specific serials and numbers. The industry offers various techniques for marking and etching multiple materials, and one of them is laser engraving.
In this quick guide, you’ll read the basics of laser engraving machines, cost, and recommendations, so you’ll know what to choose.
What Is Laser Engraving Machine?
Laser technology plays a vital role in many fields, more so in the design and manufacturing industry. Traditionally, Laser machines can cut different materials with very extreme precision. Their improved efficiency allows them to perform a wide range of settings, including welding, marking, drilling, and engraving.
Gone are the days when you would need a burin or graver to incise a design onto a hard, flat surface. Advanced Technology has made it possible to leave personal impressions on surfaces free-hand and without bit tools and lathes. There are three types of technologies that you will find in use for the production of Laser beams in Engraving Machines, these are:
- Gas-based lasers
- Crystal lasers
- Fiber lasers
Laser engraving is a technique that uses laser beams to change the surfaces of flat or cylindrical objects. The principle behind laser technology in engraving various things involves burning and vaporizing specific areas in the material off the surface. The most significant advantage of this method is that it does not damage the surface or base material.
This method has an advantage over alternative engraving technologies in that it does not involve the use of inks and tool bits, which require regular replacements when they get used up or wear out. In manufacturing, laser engraving machines are the best alternative to ink printing, especially when the workpieces are in motion.
The laser engraving machine assembles three parts: a laser, a controller, and a work surface. The laser beam works as the chisel, burin or graver, and removes layers of material from the surface of a workpiece by vaporization. Therefore, your waste is majorly in the form of toxic fumes and smoke, and that is why they come with blowers or vacuum pumps for ventilation and removal of debris.
How Does Laser Engraving Machine Work?
The laser is the source of the engraving beam. This crucial part of the laser engraving machine requires the help of a controller to determine the direction, intensity, speed of movement, and spread of the beam when aimed at the surface of a workpiece.
In the most common laser engraving machines setup, the laser optics move around the X–Y table in two dimensions trace patterns onto the surface of the workpiece (stationary). In some laser engraving machines that use the same technique, the workpiece moves while the laser remains stationary.
There are Laser engraving machine setups that have both the laser and workpiece stationary, while on the other hand, Galvo mirrors guide the beams over the surface. Most of the designs for laser engraving units are for materials with flat surfaces. It would be best to have a laser engraving machine with a rotary attachment to work on round or cylindrical objects such as mugs.
In most cases, laser engraving machines connect to a computer for one to perform offline operations. You would need software to translate a particular design in your PC or laptop to digital signals, which guide the laser unit to change the surface of the workpiece. For online use, you may need to operate a machine that can connect to the Internet. It would help if you loaded the correct software for the laser engraver to sync with your computer system.
What Can You Do with A Laser Engraving Machine?
The area on the surface of the workpiece that needs to be engraved should at all times be inside the beam’s focal point. The heat generated from focusing the light beam on the surface of the workpiece can either vaporize the material or make it fracture and flake off.
Laser engraving can work on metallic (silver, gold, stainless steel, copper, brass, aluminum, titanium, and more) and nonmetallic (glass, wood, plastic, leather, PVC, paper, resin, stone, ceramic tile, acrylic, rubber, and vinyl)materials.
It is possible to perform Laser engraving on guns, coins, pictures, jewelry, and business cards. Some laser engraving machines come with adjustable wattage, giving you the option to work on objects with different materials and thicknesses.
- Laser Engraving Machine for Metal
Fiber laser engraving machines work well on metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, tool steel, brass, titanium, and more. You would need a fiber laser engraving machine to engrave aluminum surfaces. You may need to adjust various parameters of the laser engraver for it to work on the different metal materials.
Painting or anodizing metals before engraving their surfaces yields better results. It is important to note that transparent, smooth, and highly reflective materials hardly absorb laser beams, so coating or painting these surfaces will make it easier for the laser beam to be absorbed and eventually deliver a better engraving effect. At all times, it is crucial to avoid the reflection of the laser.
- Laser Engraving Machine for Wood
If you are looking to engrave wood surfaces, you need a laser engraving machine for wood for the best results. Such a machine can work on different wood materials, including basswood and plywood. Most people use these units to engrave cardboards, cutting boards, baseball bats, corks, and many more. For better results, product sample testing is something you need to do not burn your workpiece.
- Laser Engraving Machine for Plastic
When adding your design to the surface of a PVC material, it would be best that you work with a laser engraving machine for plastic. You will need to adjust the setting in units that can engrave different materials. The problem with engraving plastic is that when the material burns, it gives off toxic fumes.
- Laser Engraving Machine for Glass
You can engrave custom logos and designs on nearly any glass product, including mirrors, bottles, and windows. In a typical laser engraving machine, you will need to coat the surface of your glass object before working on it. A laser engraving machine for glass engraving projects produces better results. With a CO2 laser, you can make beautiful frosted or matte effects on your glass products.
You will need a laser engraving machine with rotary attachment to work on any glassware due to its shape and delicate nature. Some of these machines are sold together with attachments, while for some, you will have to purchase them separately.
- Laser Engraving Machine for Guns
Gun owners must track and monitor guns so that they do no end up in the wrong hands. They can achieve this with ease by engraving labels, serial numbers, QR codes, and other technical, regulatory requirements on the surface of guns. Some private gun holders may consider giving their gadgets a personal touch by engraving custom designs, personal messages, names, images, logos, and artwork on the surface.
Based on the shape and design of a typical gun, you will need a laser engraving machine for guns to produce high-quality surface designs. Guns have different parts of varying materials, so the best equipment to work on these devices is the fiber laser engraving machine.
- Laser Engraving Machine for Jewelry
Engraving is a technique commonly used by art designers in making custom and personalized jewelry. In this case, a laser engraving machine for jewelry offers the best results. Regardless of the type of jewelry (necklaces, rings, bracelets, wedding bands, pendant, antique, locket, tag, jewelry gift, or jewelry box), you can personalize them with signature, letter, number, name, pattern, picture, and among other engravable designs. You may need to consider using a rotary attachment for jewelry with curved surfaces.
You can do many things with a laser engraving machine. Besides engraving on the different material surfaces, some can do annealing, ablation (etching), and color change (carbonization or bleaching). Depending on the size of the laser machine, you can work small to big objects of different shapes and materials.
What Is Fiber Laser Engraving Machine?
A fiber laser engraving machine, also known as a Fiber laser engraver, is an engraving unit that uses fiber laser, the latest technology in the market, to generate light beams. Manufacturers and vendors commonly use it to imprint exquisite designs, patterns, and messages on metallic objects with flat or curved surfaces. Optic Fiber doped in ytterbium produces a laser beam that is much stronger and more effective.
How Much Does a Laser Engraving Machine Cost?
A good number of laser engraving brands in the market will promise to deliver quality and durable products. So, when choosing a laser engraving machine, determining the cost should come after identifying all the features and properties that need to feature in your unit. If you are looking for a laser engraving machine with the best and reasonable price in the market, then you can rely on our buyer’s guide. The laser engraving machine price ranges from $300 to $4000.
Factors that determine the price of a laser engraver include:
How To Choose Laser Engraving Machine?
Choosing the suitable laser engraving machine for your project might be difficult, especially when it is your first time using one. Here’s what you need to when selecting laser engravers:
Power Output Source of Laser Engraving Machine
The power output of the machine determines the thickness and nature of the material you can engrave. For hard materials, you will need a laser machine with a power rating that falls somewhere between 40 W and150W. Laser engravers with power outputs of 20W,30W, or 50Ware primarily associated with simple tasks.
The technology of Laser Engraving Machine
Besides the laser technology, check for other technologies in the market that guarantee high-quality engraving results. The best thing about high-tech laser engravers is that they make work easy and produce seamless results.
Use of Laser Engraving Machine
The user can achieve a lot with a Laser Engraving Machine that is easy to use and store. Go for a unit that is easy to assemble and disassemble in no time.
Accessories and parts Laser Engraving Machine
Laser Engraving Machines do fail when they are highly stressed, and the best way to prepare for such challenges is to ensure that replacement parts are readily available. Check to see if the vendors hold sufficient stock of spares
Technical Support of Laser Engraving Machine
The Presence of aftersales is a guarantee that your Laser Engraving Machine will give you more extended service. Online reviews and testimonies are important information sources that can help you determine whether a particular brand or vendor provides customer support services.
Cost of Laser Engraving Machine
When it comes to technical products, cheap can be expensive in the longer run. For this reason, it is essential to take your time and review each laser engraving machine for sale to get an insight into the different technical aspects of a Laser Engraving Machine.
Modern laser engraving machines are more intelligent, faster, more accurate, easier to use, more powerful, and do not make much noise. When choosing laser engraving machines, always go for a big engraving area and support all computer systems. When choosing a laser engraving machine, it is vital to consider the material of the workpiece.
Laser Engraving Machine Recommends
The machine recommends below adhere to the above factors of choosing a laser engraving machine. Customer reviews have played a significant part in the selection process.
Here are some of the top Laser engraving machines that we recommend for 2021:
We liked the three laser engravers because they can do deep work due to higher laser power, 50W. It is much easier with these machines to find the focal length. The engraving efficiency that comes with these top three pieces of equipment is unmatched. As experts in this field, we’ll help your find the best solution for your needs.