Laser Engraving and Laser cutting: What You Need to Know
Laser engraving or laser cutting systems work with various materials- natural stone, textiles, acrylic, etc. However, wood is probably the most famous engraving medium in the industry nowadays.
From customized gifts to engraving the company logo on the product, there are numerous things you can do with the laser. It would help if you remembered some facts before engraving the wood, and we hope this article would serve the purpose!
Before turning on the laser, consider the wood type you will be engraving. All kinds of engravings are distinct & will result in distinctive looks. Cherry and maple deliver a nice contrast while laser engraved; however, walnut turns dark. Bamboo is a famous wood for engraving, but it can also result in inconsistent contrast because of the grain pattern.
How to Get Started with Laser Cutting
The laser cutters are incredible devices providing the specific possibility to make various things. Here, we will explain all the basics of creating designs for laser engraving or cutting. You will also learn about the materials utilized and how to access the laser cutter.
What is a Laser Cutter
A laser cutter is a computer-controlled cutting machine that uses a laser to cut materials. These machines are used in a wide variety of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical industries.
Laser cutters use a g-code to direct the laser beam, which is typically generated by a 3D slicer or some free CAD software containing in-built slicers like SelfCAD.
The g-code tells the laser cutter where to move the laser beam, how fast to move it, and how much power to use. Laser cutters can cut through a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, metal, and glass. However, they are most commonly used to cut through thin sheets of material.
When using a laser cutter, it is important to select the appropriate settings for the material being cut. For example, cutting through metal will require more power than cutting through wood. Laser cutters are powerful tools that can be used to create intricate patterns and shapes. With the help of g-code, these machines can quickly and easily cut through a variety of materials.
How does a laser cutter work
In the CO2 laser cutter machine, a laser beam is made in the tube filled with CO2 gas. Electronically managed motors generally move a laser head engrave or cut the desired shape into the specific material of a workpiece. The particular form is defined by the input file that can be the vector or the raster image.
While a laser hits a material, the very tiny area is heated for a brief period, causing that material to vaporize, burn or melt.
Artwork for laser engraving can be prepared in many ways. Some people prefer using software like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to prepare vector files. But you can also use a 3D modeling software like SelfCAD to achieve the same task. The good thing about SelfCAD is that you can even prepare your designs for 3D printing in the software without switching to another program. There is also an option to prepare realistic renders in the software. This is helpful as you can prepare images that look like those in real life.
What can you do with a laser cutter
Generally, there are three tasks that the laser cutter can perform: Engraving, Marking, and cutting.
It is called engraving, when a laser beam erases the parts of a top material but does not cut through that material. This is not as easy a job as it sounds to be. It would help if you had the skills to perform this task. The engraving itself is a unique art.
When a laser beam typically goes the entire way through the material of a workpiece, this makes a specific cut. The laser usually is very clean and precise. The exact look of a cut edge entirely depends on the material. For instance, the edges of the cut wood are usually darker brown than the original wood. The edges of the acrylic do not change the color & have a lovely glossy finish after a laser cutting.
The kerf of a laser cutter is very tiny. The specific term kerf refers to the width of a groove created when cutting. This varies from material to material & is wholly dependent on a particular laser setting. A kerf will be somewhere between 0.05 mm & 0.5 mm for maximum materials.
Marking is when a laser does not erase the material but, for instance, changes the color of a material. CO2 laser cutters utilize marking while working with the metals.
The marking solution is applied to the surface of a workpiece. After drying the marking solution, the engraving usually is performed. The heat from a laser generally bonds the specific solution to the metal, resulting in the permanent mark.
The wood you select mainly depends on the item being engraved. For instance, the oak barrel will engrave distinctively than the bamboo cutting board. The wood is an exceptionally famous engraving substrate because of its durability and versatility.
The applications are seemingly endless, from customizing photo frames with dates, phrases, or names, making inlays for plaques and cabinets, personalized jewelry boxes, cutting boards & humidors and so on.
With a cut and engrave system, you can tackle the custom cutting and prototyping jobs projects such as laser-cut maps. Personalized gifts are the most powerful applications for laser engraving wood. You can also engrave the phone cases, skate decks, musical instruments, and many other wooden elements.
The Laser customization enhances the perceived value & is very much in high demand. You can get various examples of laser-cut wooden projects on the website, like the wooden veneer inlay box.
Also, you get some tutorials for laser engraving on the bamboo cutting board. These specific creations represent some widespread uses for laser engraving with wood.
The users can directly download the particular designs of these projects, where you can also get the step-by-step instructions of lead users through the complete tutorial.
These engraving laser systems are easy to design. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to successfully laser engraving wood projects:
- Make your graphics in the window-based graphic design software. CorelDraw is famous, but the vector-based software will also do.
- Send the specific design to print in a laser. Make sure that the print settings match the particular material you are using.
- Load the specific material you are engraving into a laser machine.
Laser engraving with the wood is remarkably impressive & easy. Putting these simple steps in mind, you will be well on the way to producing your unique laser-engraved wooden creation!
How to Turn Your 3D Printer into a Laser Cutter
If you own a 3D printer, it’s possible to turn it into a powerful laser engraver and laser cutter if you have a 3D printer attachment like a laser diode. You no longer have to buy a laser cutter or laser engraver; everything can be done in your 3D printer. There are various laser production manufacturers available, but we recommend Endurance Lasers as their lasers are affordable and reliable.