If you don’t know much about laser etching and engraving and what these modern marking machines have to offer, it is definitely well worth getting to grips with the technology and what you can do when you become a proficient laser engraver.
If you are looking to buy a metal laser cutter, the choice of options can prove a bit daunting for a beginner, so here is a look at some of the features to look out for and what you can do when you know who make the most of you laser engraving tool.
Understanding The Different Laser Types
One of the first things to do when looking at your options is to understand the different laser types available. Each different type of laser used offers a series of benefits countered with some disadvantages associated with each type, so you have to weigh up what features are important or useful to you, as this will help you to identify the type of laser you need.
Fiber lasers are primarily used for metal marking, so this would be your optimal choice of you were looking to carry out metal engraving, annealing, or for high-contrast plastic markings. [pullquote]You should find that a fiber laser is virtually maintenance-free in general, giving you a service life that should reach or exceed 25,000 laser hours.[/pullquote]
Gas lasers, also referred to as CO₂ lasers work by using a carbon dioxide gas mixture that is electrically stimulated. The wavelength they produce tends to make them the go-to solution for when you are working on non-metallic materials and most types of plastics. Gas lasers are widely used and are popular because they offer a solution in a diverse range of applications and deliver an efficient a high-grade beam quality.
Another option that you might see, is a crystal laser. The fundamental difference between a crystal laser and a fiber laser is that the crystal version uses pump diodes, which can be expensive, and as they are wearing parts, they have a shorter lifespan than the fiber option.
Laser Cutter Or Engraver
It is also important to appreciate that there is a distinction between a laser cutter and a laser engraver. A laser cutter is mainly optimized to get the task done in the quickest time possible, which means that you may well have to compromise a little on quality in order to achieve a quicker turnaround time on the job.
If you are mainly focused on achieving a higher engraving quality as your priority, it would often be better to opt for a laser engraver, which will take longer to complete the task but deliver a better end result in terms of quality.
You will find that an engraving machine is suitable for offering you a cleaner cut on a range of materials, but they lack the same laser power as their laser counterparts, which does mean that they will not normally be able to cut through the same thickness of material.
Bear these pros and cons in mind, as it is an influential factor when deciding which type of machine to buy. In general terms, a laser cutter is often considered to be a more suitable solution if you are going to be using the machine in an industrial production environment, whereas a laser engraver gives you more options for customization, which makes it a good choice for small businesses who want that degree of flexibility.
Features To Look Out For
You will soon discover that there is a variety of different features and options to choose from and this also means that the prices of machines can vary greatly too. It may well be the case that you don’t have the budget to go for the top-of-the-range option, which means that you will probably have to decide which key features are important to you and then look for a model that offers what you are specifically likely to need more than other options.
You might want a machine that has a DSP control system. This means that it will be compatible with some software, such as CorelDraw. If there is a particular software program that you already use, check the compatibility to see if you can incorporate using your cutting and engraving machine into your system, without making too many other changes to the software you are familiar with.
You might also want to ensure that the machine offers an efficient water cooling system, as this will allow you to use the machine for long periods without interruption.
These modern marking machines can make a big difference, so they are well worth getting to know and learning what you can do with them.
Ralph Needle is an engraver who started his career in the traditional method before moving to laser engraving in more recent years. He still loves to do engraving by hand but also appreciates the speed that laser offers. He writes about engraving for various publications, online and offline.