Laser engraving is the process of making carvings and engravings on the surface of a work piece using a laser. Laser engraving projects can seem to be expensive, time-consuming and risky, but in fact, most of these projects are very straightforward, relatively inexpensive and quick with predictable results. Compared to traditional methods of engraving, laser engraving is often considered to have many advantages.
Advantages of laser engraving
• High speed
• Absence of chemical or toxic by-products
• More precise and accurate curves (.001″)
• No secondary/post-processing needed
• Can mark hard to reach areas such as curves, contours, etc.
• Convenient for mass production of engraves
• Suitable for many materials including metals, wood, stones, glass and plaques
Laser engraving – the basics
A laser beam is a tiny, directional ray of laser power. During laser engraving, the surface of the workpiece is thawed and vaporized by the heat generated by the laser beam through a process known as material removal. As a result of material removal, a recess will be formed on the surface of the workpiece. The recess formed becomes the engraving.
Unlike the traditional engraving machines that required the technician to observe caution during engraving, modern engravers are advanced that it is considered impossible for the machines to engrave anywhere other than where they are intended to. In short, the latest engraving machines are extremely safe and very versatile.
Some Intriguing facts about Laser engraving
Here are some fascinating and unbelievable facts about laser engraving that you may not have known. Let’s start with the word laser, what does it mean? Most of us consider the word ‘laser’ as just a word. Well, the word “laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
#1. Laser engraving is suitable for many materials
Laser engraving is a highly versatile process. The laser beam can be used to make engravings on a variety of materials.
• Natural products – wood tops the list of natural products. Wood is natural and can effortlessly be engraved.
• Stone and glass – a difficult process to get right, but with a little patience, it is possible to achieve a good outcome.
• Metal – metals were difficult to engrave using the traditional methods, however, the latest engraving machines have made it possible to etch metals with very minimal effort.
• Plastic – Most plastic items can be engraved. However, some synthetic materials are not good candidates for laser engraving as they will melt a little around the engraving spot, slightly affecting the quality of the engraving.
#2. Laser engravings are environmentally friendly
No toxic chemicals are used in the process of engraving with a laser. Additionally, the process does not leave chemical residues when a project is completed. Due to this fact, laser engraving is considered safe for the technician and customers.
#3. It’s not new
Laser engraving can be traced back to the 1960s. The first laser machines were invented in the 1950s though they were widely used in the late 1970s with the coming of the microcomputer. The first engraving machines were expensive, large and cumbersome, but produced better-quality engraving.
#4. Lasers produce no heat
The beam of light from a laser has no inherent temperature. Heat is produced when the laser beam hits the surface of the workpiece, which changes the light energy into heat.
#5. Cheaper and faster
Compared to the more traditional methods of engraving, laser engraving cheaper and faster. Modern engraving machines can deliver at faster speeds without compromising the quality of the design.