After the successful development of laser engraving technology, the engraving industry has begun to develop rapidly. The laser engraving machine is a high-tech product. It possesses a high technical content of the integration of light, machine, and electricity. So far, the application of the laser engraving machine is almost in every industry. It is mainly used in the advertising industry, the craft industry, and the mold industry. People can also find them in the construction industry and the printing and packaging industry. Therefore, let us take a look at the applications and buying guide of the laser engraving machine.
What is a laser engraving machine?
A laser engraving machine is a kind of equipment that uses the laser to engrave the suitable materials. The laser engraving machine is different from the mechanical engraving machine and other traditional manual engraving methods. Mechanical engraving machine uses extremely hard materials to engrave other materials through mechanical means.
The laser engraving machine uses the heat energy of the laser to engrave materials. Generally speaking, the laser engraving machine has a wider range of use. And the engraving accuracy is higher, and the engraving speed is faster.
Moreover, compared with the traditional manual engraving method, laser for engraving can also achieve very detailed and lifelike engraving processing effects. This is not inferior to the level of hand-carving by experienced craftsmen at all.
How does the laser engraving machine work?
The core of the laser engraver is the laser. The laser will generate a laser beam, and the optical mechanism will transmit such a laser beam and make it focus on the surface of the material.
The material is quickly vaporized to form pits, with the action of the high-energy-density laser beam.
The laser engraver uses a computer to control the X, Y, and Z axes to drive the laser head to move, and control the laser to switch as required. The image information processed by the software is designed previously and stored in the computer.
When the laser engraver reads design information from the computer in sequence, the laser head moves back and forth from left to right and up to down along the design route. And finally, it forms a full piece of graphics or text, realizing the automation of carving.
The laser processing technology belongs to non-contact processing. The tool of mechanical engraver carves through direct contact with the material. But laser engraving machine does not change the internal elements of the material. It relies on the high density of laser energy and has strong laser engraving operation performance.
Its features include a wide range of processing materials, and smooth cutting edges without secondary polishing. It also generates no dust, owns fast processing speed, high precision, less waste, and high efficiency.
Classification of laser engraving machines
According to the different laser light sources, it can be mainly divided into a CO2 laser engraving machine for non-metal materials and a fiber engraving machine for metal.
CO2 laser engraving machine, or CO2 laser engraver, is an engraving machine using CO2 laser technology. It is a general-purpose model with a rear focus mode and has a small size and high integration. The CO2 laser engraver is suitable for engraving acrylic, double-color board, PVC, wood, and density board.
Moreover, it can also process leather, paper, resin plastic, and bamboo. And rubber, cloth, and other non-metallic materials are also very suitable materials.
The fiber laser engraving machine uses a fiber laser generator as the light source. It is suitable for engraving metals (including stainless steel, copper, aluminum, carbon steel, iron, aluminum alloy, and various metal alloys).
In the process of metal engraving applications, the laser beam of the laser engraver for metal is like an engraving tool used in the engraving process. It engraves off excess metal material to achieve the desired effect.
Respective advantages of CO2 laser engraving machine and fiber laser engraving machine
CO2 Laser Engraving Machine:
The carbon dioxide laser can engrave and cut almost all the non-metallic materials. The processing range is wide and the price is relatively low.
Safety and reliability: it adopts non-contact processing, and will not cause mechanical extrusion or mechanical stress to the material. It does not damage the surface of the work-piece; and will not deform the material;
Accuracy and precision: high processing precision;
Energy-saving and environmental protection: The diameter of the laser beam and spot is small, generally less than 0.5mm. The cutting process saves materials and is safe and clean;
Consistent effect: It can ensure that the processing effect of the same batch is completely consistent.
High-speed and fast: It can immediately carry out the high-speed engraving and cutting according to the designs outputted by the computer.
Low cost: Not limited by the number of processing, laser processing is cheaper for small batch processing services.
Fiber Laser Engraving Machine:
It can carry out deformation-free engraving on many metal materials. Such materials contain steel plate, stainless steel, aluminum alloy plate, and hard alloy, etc.;
Excellent beam quality: smaller focal spot, finer cutting lines, higher work efficiency, and better processing quality;
High stability: It uses imported fiber laser, and has stable performance and long service life of key components;
High electro-optical conversion efficiency: energy saving and environmental protection;
Low cost of use: low power consumption of the whole machine;
Low maintenance costs: no need to use laser working gas; optical fiber transmission, and no need for reflective lenses. It can save a lot of maintenance costs;
The machine is easy to operate and maintenance is convenient: optical fiber transmission, no need to adjust the optical route;
Super flexible light guide effect: small size, compact structure, easy to flexible processing requirements.
How to operate the laser engraving machine?
The users need to follow the instructions of the laser engraving machine for safe operation. And it needs to start the laser engraving machine strictly in accordance with the laser start-up procedures.
Operators must accept the training for technology and operation and are familiar with the structure and performance of the machine. They need to master relevant knowledge of the operating system.
Before starting the machine, the operators should wear labor protection equipment as required. They must also wear protective glasses that meet the requirements near to the laser beam.
After turning on the machine, the operators manually drive the machine along X and Y axes at low speed. This is to check whether there is any abnormality.
After inputting the program for a new work-piece, it needs to do a test run first and check the operation status.
During the process of working, the operators need to pay attention to observe the operation of the machine tool. This is to avoid accidents caused by the engraving machine beyond the effective travel range or collisions.
During the operation, it needs to keep the laser, working table, and the surrounding area clean, orderly, and free of oil pollution. The workpiece, plates, and waste materials need to be stacked as required.
It shall maintain the laser engraving machines regularly, in order to increase the service life, save costs, and create greater benefits.
What materials can the laser engraving machine process?
CO2 laser engraving machine is suitable for engraving most non-metallic materials. Such materials include wood, acrylic, and plastic, paper materials, cloth, and leather.
The range of materials that the fiber laser engraving machine can engrave cover most of the metal materials. They include stainless steel, carbon steel, and galvanized sheet, copper and aluminum, etc.
The following is an introduction to commonly used processing materials for laser engraving machines.
Wood is currently the most commonly used laser processing material. It is easy to engrave and cut. A laser engraver can easily evaporate and engrave light wood, such as birch, cherry, and maple. Therefore, the laser engraving machine for wood is very suitable equipment. In addition, the plywood, medium-density board (MDF) and wood embossing product in the furniture industry is also very suitable for processing by using a wood engraving machine.
The fiber laser engraving machine can obtain excellent results in the processing of metal materials. It can not only engrave soft metals, like aluminum or copper but also mark very hard metals, such as steel, stainless steel, or cast iron.
The fiber laser engraver can process metals, like aluminum, copper, stainless steel into plates or sheets. It can also engrave and cut these metal materials into more complicated shapes. For example, carved aluminum curtain wall, bronze carved stair handrail, and stainless steel signboard and stainless steel operation panel, etc.
Moreover, this metal engraving machine uses non-mechanical “tools”, i.e. laser for processing. It will not produce mechanical extrusion or stress on metal materials. Therefore, even thin metal materials will not generate deformation or abrasion.
Acrylic, as a plastic polymer material, has a wide range of applications. It covers shop windows, advertising lamp boxes, and signboards, handicrafts, direction boards, and display racks. And people can also find its application in bathroom facilities, fluorescent lamps, and suspended ceilings, screens, decorative lighting, and floor decorations.
Compared with the traditional cutter mold, the laser engraving machine owns the characteristics of fast processing speed, high accuracy, and diversified engraving designs. It is more suitable for processing acrylic and plastic materials.
The acrylic products after the processing of the laser engraving machine have a high surface hardness and glossiness. They also have smooth edges, and the features of energy-saving and environmentally friendly, durable, and resistant to aging. And the machine can also process ultra-thin acrylic materials.
Double-color board is a kind of engineering plastic specially used for engraving. And the board is composed of two or more layers of color. Through the engraving of a laser engraving machine, people can usually use the double-color board for various indicator signs and name tags. It has the characteristics of uniform color, clear designs, and durability.
The paper is thin and easy to process. Using a laser engraving machine, we can process paper tableware, paper stationery, and paper packaging, as well as greeting or invitation cards. Some artwork plants also choose laser engraver to process paper lampshades, sculptures, and others with beautiful designs and shapes.
Through the processing, the paper products have high precision, more delicate effects, and novel engraving processing styles. And they thoroughly overcome the time-consuming and environmentally-friendly shortcomings of traditional printing. The laser engraving machine can endow paper products with higher artistic value.
Cloth and leather
While designing cloth and leather, designers often add a variety of personalized designs and creative elements. For example, they will engrave designs on cotton and denim cloth and letters on leather materials, or make hollowing effects. Such a design process requires the adoption of laser engraving technology and machine to get the designed cloth and leather.
The laser engraving machine can also engrave a series of designs on cloth and leather accurately and flexibly. These designs include common letters, numbers, images, and signs, as well as the effect of torn and wearing, by virtue of the flexible processing methods.
Rubber is a product that we often use in industrial production and commercial activities. The raw materials of various stamps, official seals, and rubber sheets mainly come from rubber.
In rubber processing, the laser engraving machine plays an important role. It can realize precise gradient engraving through software control and design, with excellent printing resistance and high definition.
The finished products of rubber have excellent printing resistance and high definition. It can not only make rubber official seals and rubber sheets, but also process EVA rubber sheets, rubber signs, and slippers, coasters, sculptures, and other handicrafts. The application range is very wide, and this is an advanced technology with great development potential.
What are the typically applicable industries for laser engraving machines?
At present, with the development of laser engraving technology, the application of laser engraving machines almost spreads over all the industries. Laser engraver has become common equipment in people’s daily life and work. Typical application industries include the advertising industry, printing and packaging industry, and handicraft industry. The machine is also applicable for the metal mold industry, building decoration industry, wood industry, and leather industry, etc.
The advertising industry is an important part of the modern service industry and the cultural industry. The specific products of the advertising industry include lightboxes, billboards, street signs, and signboards. The materials of these products are mostly double-color board, wood, high-density board, plastic, and colored paper.
The laser processing has the obvious characteristics of small deformation, high precision, and non-contact processing. It is also capable to process ultra-thin, fragile, brittle, and soft materials, as well as hard materials and synthetic materials. Therefore, it is very suitable for processing the above materials.
Using a laser engraving machine, through the engraving and cutting process, users can get both graphics and model effects.
Printing and packaging industry
In the printing and packaging industry, it is often necessary to engrave various designs, trademarks, and logos on packaging boxes. The materials of these boxes are often paper, plastic, and wood.
The laser engraving technology is very powerful for the packaging and printing industry.
Laser engraving has incomparable superiority over ordinary die stamping technology. Firstly, because it is a non-contact processing technology, there is no direct impact on paper products. Therefore, the paper has no mechanical deformation. Secondly, during the laser engraving process, there will be no tool abrasion. The material loss is small and the defect rate of paper products is low.
At the same time, the laser energy density is high and the processing speed is fast. The laser engraver can meet high-quality processing needs and improve the appearance of the packaging. The packaging boxes after laser engraving can also attract consumers’ attention.
Hardware processing industry
In the hardware processing industry, manufacturers often engrave the letters, scales, and designs on their stainless steel, aluminum alloy, and other metal products. They will also engrave their own brands and trademarks on the products. It can ensure product quality and publicity of the brand.
The laser engraving machine can easily realize high-precision marking and engraving processing on hardware molds. Even some hardware parts will not affect their original accuracy after laser processing. Laser engraving has the features of clear, long-lasting, and beautiful markings, which greatly saves time and improves work efficiency for hardware manufacturers.
Leather processing industry
The traditional leather industry usually uses manual or electric cutting technology. And now it faces problems of slow speed, low efficiency, and serious material waste. Using a laser engraving machine will bring great benefits to the development of the leather industry.
The users only need to input the figure and size to be engraved into the computer. And then the laser engraving machine will process the raw material of leather into the finished product according to the data on the computer.
After laser processing, the leather designs are accurate, beautiful, and free of burrs. The finished product has a long storage time and highlights the design characteristics. And the workmanship is more delicate and exquisite.
The handicraft processing industry covers a wide variety of raw materials, such as acrylic, cloth, paper and resin, metal, and leather. And the shapes and designs of these materials usually vary greatly.
Traditional crafts processing uses electric grinders, cutting, and engraving. They are inefficient and difficult to achieve mass production. However, the laser engraving machine can meet the processing requirements of the above-mentioned materials and crafts. The shape can be flat or three-dimensional, and the processing speed is faster, which is suitable for mass production.
Compared with traditional technology, what are the advantages of the laser engraving machine?
Compared with traditional mechanical engraving technology, laser engraving machine has many advantages:
After the processing of the laser engraving machine, the edge of the material will not become yellow or deformed. Moreover, even the edge of the softer material will not be hard, and the size is consistent and accurate. The machine has high efficiency, low cost, and computer design, and can engrave any complicated shapes and graphics. There is no mechanical pressure on the workpiece during processing. It realizes safe operation and simple maintenance.
Due to the combination of laser and computer technology, users only need to design graphics on the computer. And then they can output and change the designs at any time. Users can also design graphics while processing products. We can say that the emergence of laser engraving machines has promoted the development of many processing industries.
Do you really need to buy a laser engraving machine?
Users for the personal hobby :
Provided that you are a lover of engraving craftsmanship, and you like to use a laser engraving machine to engrave some photos, wood, and small handicrafts from time to time, you can search for “laser engraving near me” on the Internet first. If there is an engraving factory or shop nearby, it can provide customized processing services for individuals, you don’t need to buy a laser engraving machine. In case there is no such factory or shop, you can buy a small laser engraving machine. The price of a small-sized laser machine is generally not expensive and thus will not become a financial burden. The machine can not only meet the needs of your hobbies but also make your life be colorful.
Users of small-sized processing business:
If you have a workshop or store for billboard production, small jewelry processing, or hardware processing, and you usually undertake some processing work, it is necessary to purchase one or several laser engraving machines.
The operation of laser engraving machines is simple. Some small-sized machines are also suitable for a small batch of production and processing quantities. The use of laser engraving machines can not only improve processing efficiency but also produce products with higher accuracy. It can also improve quality and quantity, and the users can recover purchase costs very soon. Most of the small-sized processing plants or enterprises will purchase two or more laser engraving machines, which are very practical.
Users of professional processing factories:
If you are operating a processing factory, and you must process a large amount of non-metallic materials (including wood, acrylic, and cloth), or metal materials (including stainless steel, copper, and aluminum) every day, you don’t need to hesitate. A laser engraving machine is the necessary equipment and has a wide processing range.
It makes innovations on the basis of previous technology, increases production capacity, and expand the types of processed products. And there is no need for secondary processing. It guarantees product quality and accuracy and also helps the factory to maintain customer resources.
Should you DIY a laser engraving machine or directly buy a laser engraving machine?
What are the technical requirements for DIY?
DIY laser engraving machine has high requirements for the producer. You need to be familiar with mechanical and electrical knowledge, and understand the principle and composition of the laser machine.
It also needs to know how to choose the right parts, and how to operate and maintain the machine. In addition, the price of purchasing various accessories separately is not necessarily cheap. Furthermore, assembly is time-consuming and laborious, and there is also a lack of guidance during operation and maintenance.
Advantages of buying a laser engraving machine:
Buying a laser engraving machine directly saves the time of learning knowledge of the machine. It can also skip the steps of finding and assembling accessories, and professional assembly. The supplier will provide an operation manual together with the equipment. The machine is easy to operate and you can operate it very soon after its arrival.
There is after-sales personnel who gives you guidance at any time. And the sellers can also provide training on the operation and maintenance. Even if the users did not know anything about the laser engraving machine before, they can quickly master the operation and maintenance procedures. Buying a laser machine improves efficiency and ensures safety.
Should you buy a 3D printer with a laser engraving machine?
What are the advantages of integrating a laser engraving machine with a 3D printer?
3D printing technology is a representative and innovative technology of the manufacturing industry in the “Industry 4.0” era. A 3D printer can print polymer plastics, some metal materials, or ceramic. But the printing accuracy of 3D printers still differs greatly.
Desktop 3D printers for commercial use generally have the defect of insufficient precision. And the size requirements and surface quality of the printed products cannot meet the higher demand in practical application.
The laser engraving machine can improve the efficiency of engraving, and make the surface of the engraved materials smooth and round. It also quickly lowers down the temperature of the processed material and reduces the deformation and internal stress of the material. The laser engraver has been widely used for precision engraving of non-metal and metal materials.
Therefore, the combination of these two machines can maximize their strengths and supplement the shortcomings, and also expand their advantages. For example, the users can use a 3D printer to print a set of chess and then switch to a laser engraving machine to improve the accuracy of the chess surface. They can also use a laser machine to make a chessboard to form a complete set of chess products. It will be more convenient and faster for users.
Applicable industries of laser engraving machine integrated 3D printer
The integration of a laser engraving machine and a 3D printer makes up for some shortcomings of 3D printers and improves the accuracy of materials. A 3D printer with laser engraver can be widely used in electrical appliances, educational applications, and cultural creativity, architectural design, automotive and aerospace, as well as biomedical industry and cultural relics protection. It covers many directions in industrial manufacturing and consumer goods production, and will greatly promote the development of different walks of life.
In short, the laser engraving machine can improve the efficiency of engraving. And the surface of the parts is relatively smooth and free of burrs after processing. It can quickly reduce the temperature of the engraved material and reduce the deformation and internal stress of the materials.
Because of so many advantages, the laser engraving machine has gradually replaced the traditional engraving equipment and methods. And in practical application, it has become the main engraving equipment. At the same time, it is also the best choice for energy-saving processing and environmental protection processing.