Purchasing a laser engraving machine is a major decision for individuals and businesses. The machine is sophisticated, and it uses extremely powerful lasers for engraving. It is like a 3D printer and performs jobs effectively. As a result, you need to consider certain factors before buying one.
Since there are many options on the market, it may be difficult to determine the right machine for you. In this article, we will help you figure out how to choose a suitable laser engraving machine.
What is a Laser Engraving Machine and How Does it Work?
As its name implies, it is a number-controlled device that engraves designs on materials. It is a subtractive method of manufacturing by using lasers to change the surfaces of objects. The process is majorly used when creating images that are noticeable at eye level on materials.
To achieve the result, the machine creates intense heat through its lasers to vaporize the particles on the material for engravement. This will expose cavities on the material, thereby, forming the resulting image. The lasers mark the object’s surface. You may want to watch this video to see how a laser engraver functions.
The method is quite fast because the designs are created as the lasers move. Also, the frequency of the lasers’ movements on the object for engravement determines the deepness of the marks they create.
Laser engravers are of various types. One has a stable workpiece where the laser alone does the movements (or inversely). Some machines are specifically for cylindrical items. Also, there are machines that the workpiece and laser do not move, but some galvo mirrors move the laser on the object’s surface when engraving.
Laser engraving is not the same as the mechanical or other traditional manual methods of engravement. The mechanical machine uses mechanical methods, like diamonds and items that are extremely hard, to engrave materials. But the laser machine uses thermal energy from lasers.
The machine is used universally, and it has high accuracy and speed. Compared to the traditional manual method, the laser method makes the effect quite delicate. It is more advantageous which has made it a good replacement for traditional methods and others.
Factors to Consider when Purchasing a Laser Engraver
Below are the factors to consider when you want to buy an engraver.
1. The Type of Materials for Engraving
The materials you work with will determine the laser engraver to buy. There are various materials for engraving. They include metal, acrylic, paper, plastic, and wood. Not every device can work on all types of materials. Thus, choose one that is compatible with your workpiece.
Additionally, the area to engrave is important. Some devices can work on large areas while others only work on small areas. Also, you need to decide whether you want the machine for DIY home use or professional use.
It will not be a good decision to spend so much money when you want a machine for personal, home use. However, if you want it for your business, investing in a device that has optimal efficiency and performance with strong laser powers is worth it.
2. The Level of Accuracy
There are different factors that influence the accuracy of the machine. The following are the most prominent ones:
- Generally, square devices are more accurate than compass types.
- The more the spindle power of a device, the more accurate it becomes.
- The proficiency and technique a technician use when assembling the machine determine its accuracy. A machine that runs better will have a high level of accuracy.
- The device has two transmission methods: rack gear and lead screw drive. The drive type influences the accuracy of the machine. Generally, the lead screw drive has a higher precision level than the rack gear type.
This is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing the machine. You need to know the required frequency of maintenance for the device. You also need to check whether it is something that you can do by yourself or you must hire a technician.
Trying to know whether a device is easy to repair or maintain is complicated. It may even result in downtimes for your business. If it’s difficult, you may need the help of a technician, which will result in extra costs. Therefore, look for devices that are easy to repair and maintain. You may want to visit https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Clean-Your-Laser-Machine/ to learn how to maintain an engraving machine.
4. The Replacement Parts
You need to check if the device has readily available replacement parts in case it breaks down. Irrespective of the type you buy, it is still a machine, and it will break down someday.
Also, no matter your level of meticulousness, a time will come when you need to replace certain parts. Hence, ensure that you can easily get the parts, else you will wait for some months before they get to you.
5. Your Budget
This is on the list of most important factors when it comes to buying an engraving machine. This is because your budget determines the type of machine you can buy. Although the price of the machine should not dictate its quality, your budget is an important decision-making factor.
If you want a device that can engrave on different materials, you should expect to spend more money. There may be cheaper options, but they may consume more energy and power, making them expensive over time. Therefore, ensure you consider these factors when setting your budget.
The prices of engravers vary. The factors affecting their prices include the type of laser, engraving material, engraving area, and laser power.
What Can You Do with a Laser Engraving Machine?
You can use the device on almost any type of surface – glass, leather, wood, plastic, or metal. You can also get various engraved materials. Additionally, it is very effective compared to traditional methods for smaller objects like jewelry.
Also, the chances of deforming or damaging the material are small and you can apply the technique in different fields like fine art and medicine. The device has many industrial applications, but you can still use it at home. An example of a home engraver is the carbon dioxide laser system. You can connect it to your computer’s USB port, and it works like your home printer.
You can use the device in the following industries:
- Advertising: engraving double-color plates, acrylic, signs, crystals, trophies, authorizations, etc.
- Glass: pre-engraving sandblasting films, shadows, glass background walls, glass screens, etc.
- Marble: engraving images and creating decorative paintings (first engrave, then hand color before mounting on a frame).
- Jewelry: gold engravings and making jade and gold pendants.
- Handicraft: engraving text and beautiful patterns on shells, marble, leather, bones, ivory, bamboo, wood, etc.
- Leather Garment: complex text graphic engraving on fur, fabric, artificial leather, and synthetic leather. Engraving on garments, gloves, home decoration, hats, shoes, handbags, cars, and toys.
- Packaging: engraving on a rubber sheet, knife sheet for cutting die, double-layered sheet, plastic sheet, etc.
- Models: creating airplane models, architectural sand table models, etc.
Benefits of Using a Laser Engraving Machine
The benefits of using a laser engraver are:
1. It is Reliable
One major benefit of this method of engraving is that the laser beam does not touch the material physically. Instead, it relies on heat from the lasers to get the job done. This method is referred to as a non-contact method.
This gives it an edge over traditional methods as it does not leave knife marks that end up damaging or deforming the surface of processed parts or materials. The lasers target only a portion for vaporization while the surrounding areas are left untouched.
2. It is Safe
The device focuses on safety for both its users and consumers. Since it replaces manual methods that involve using harmful chemicals, the device prevents workers from operating under such conditions. It works with a computer; therefore, you can operate it from a certain distance.
3. It is Eco-Friendly
Since it removes the use of chemicals, lasers are environmentally friendly compared to other methods. It does not only achieve this during the engraving process but also when the entire process is over. It leaves a little amount of waste since a huge part is vaporized. Unlike harmful wastes, the wastes that lasers leave are usually in form of dust particles.
4. It is Highly Efficient
The process is highly efficient, and you can switch between different materials and depths to achieve various results. It is also efficient when you think about costs of maintenance and service life, which are lower than traditional methods.
Some recent devices can complete both engraving and marking. Both are quite similar but marking leaves marks at the surface level; it does not go deep. You may want to check our list of best laser engraving machine to know which one is suitable for your business or personal use.
This article focused on the factors to consider when purchasing a laser engraver. It also discussed the uses and benefits of the machine. We hope the information shared has been useful.