Laser beam machining is popular in recent years. In this article, we will talk about some laser beam machining method and some laser applications.
What are laser cutters or laser engravers?
When we talk about “laser cutter” or “laser engraver”, we can consider they are the same machine. They are just called “laser engraver” or “laser cutter” according to the purpose they are used.
Laser cutters are CNC machines too. It uses laser beam to engrave or cut material following a drawing. Laser is highly focused and highly amplified light which can cause the material burn, melt and vaporize. That means a laser beam is a cutting tool on the machine. And the cutting tool moves according to G-code. The process is very similar to a CNC router, and the difference is the “cutting tool”.
3D laser crystal engraving machine is a different machine. We will introduce this type of machine a little too.
What material can laser beam machining devices manufacture
The kind of materials that laser machines can manufacture depends on the machine’s power and the type of laser.
Some different kinds of laser engravers can be found on the market. The most common types used by small business and hobbyists are CO2 lasers and gas lasers. We won’t talk about some other lasers that are used for industrial purposes.
CO2 laser engravers are suitable to manufacture a lot of non-metallic materials, including paper, wood, textiles, acrylic, Plywood, MDF, cork, cardboard, felt, cotton, leather, and much more.
We don’t recommend to manufacture some materials with a laser cutter too, such as carbon, PVC, PVB, Teflon/PTPE, beryllium oxide, and so on. Because these materials may generate dust or toxic that will damage your machine.
3D laser crystal engraving machine can engrave glass and crystal.
What can we do with laser beam machining
We can use laser cutter/engraver in three ways: laser cutting, laser engraving, and laser vector Etching. And with 3D laser crystal engraving machines, we can engrave patterns below the surface of the material.
A vector format file, such as AI, Cdr, EPS, DXF, DWG formats, is sent to the laser cutter, the laser beam follows the lines in the file and cuts through the material. This process can be used to cut shapes, including signs, letters, tags, or any shape you designed. This is one of the most common laser applications. And the files for laser cutting must follow some rules too.
The kerf width is very small. Usually it is between 0.05 mm and 0.5 mm, depending on many factors, for example, the material, the setting of laser, the design files, and so on.
Because it cuts material with “heat”, the color of cut edges may be different. And when you cut different materials, the color varies.
Laser engraving/ Raster etching
During this process, a raster file, such as JPG or PNG images, is sent to the machine. Laser head goes back and forth across the sheet, point by point, line by line, just similar to inkjet printers. And the laser beam removes the top material along with moving. The engraving is only decorative and appr. 0.5 mm in depth. And the depth usually is various depending on many factors. It performs on a flat surface and won’t cut through the material, that is why it is called engraving.
The process of vector etching is the same as in a laser cutting process. The difference is the selected power setting. They all use vector format drawings. If you choose a low power setting, the line is etched as engraving; If you choose a high power setting, it will produce a though cut.
Subsurface Laser Engraving
It is a different laser beam machining method. It is also called vitrography, laser crystal, 3D crystal engraving or bubblegram. This method engraves 2D or 3D files below the surface of glass or crystal using a laser. And no blemishes or marks will be left on the surface.
It will be permanent. As long as the glass or crystal is intact, there won’t be any change for a long time.
Any design files, including photos or 3d models, can be engraved with this method. And the simplest way is to provide an image.
To engrave your file, you can try to contact a supplier or do that by yourself. And if you want to do that by yourself or start a business in this field, a 3D laser crystal engraving machine is needed. The machine is called 3D trophy engraving machine or 3D portrait engraving machine too.
This laser application requires the correct kind of glass or crystal, a skilled operator, the right setting and some experimentation to do that successfully. If you don’t know anything about that, we suggested you to contact a supplier and get some products before you purchase a machine.