A laser engraver is a machine that uses a hot beam from its laser to make inscriptions, designs, and patterns on objects. The objects can be made of any material including glass, wood, plastic, and metal.
Do you currently live or work in Canada and are considering buying a laser engraver for professional or personal use? Then you need important information on how to choose the best machine for your needs.
In this detailed guide, we explain what a laser engraver is used for and up to 8 factors to consider before you buy a laser engraver in Canada or any other place for that matter. We have also included 6 tips and tricks to note when using an engraving machine.
What is Laser Engraving Used For?
Laser engraving can be done on any kind of material to create patterns, designs, and inscriptions. Some of the materials that can be engraved on include wood, plastic, metal, leather, and glass.
Unlike the traditional engraving methods, this method is not restricted to small objects. With a laser engraver, you can engrave on surfaces of different sizes. This method also reduces the chances of deforming or causing damage to the material.
It is more commonly used for personalized customization and branding but is also used in fine art and the medical sciences.
Laser engravers also have multiple connectivity options to a computer. The options may include connecting cables, Bluetooth, and WiFi. You can also connect the engraver to a computer with the USB option.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Laser Engraver
1. Your Specific Needs
One key factor to consider before you buy an engraving machine is the purpose you want the machine to serve. What are your specific needs? What materials do you want to engrave on?
For instance, while materials like plastic, wood, glass, metal, and much more can be engraved on, not all engravers can engrave on these materials.
So, it means you must identify the kind of materials you use before you select a laser engraving machine.
What's more? If you need an engraver for home use, then it may be better to consider something simple and functional. The more sophisticated and advanced engravers are best for professional or office use.
The price of the laser engraver doesn't necessarily say much about the quality of the machine. But it is a good decision factor to consider.
For instance, a machine that engraves on all kinds of materials may be pricier than other machines. To avoid the price tag, some buyers may go for cheaper versions of such engravers. But they often end up spending so much on electricity costs because such machines consume a lot of electricity.
You can expect the price of a laser engraver to cost between 200 and 15,000 dollars. This range however considers other factors like the bed size, the engraving material, and the laser strength.
3. Bed Size
The bed of a laser engraver is the area where you will place the material that needs the engraving. The bed size is important because it determines the size of the material that can be placed on it.
Generally, big bed sizes will be suitable for a wide range of material sizes. They are often recommended because it doesn't matter if the material is big or small, you can place your object on the bed and engrave it with ease.
You can also place multiple pieces of small objects on it at the same time so that you can engrave one after another.
Some machines have movable beds while the bed in some other machines are stationary. If the bed goes up and down, then engraving small objects on it at the same time will be easy.
The depth of the beds on engravers rarely ever changes. This makes them suitable for engraving on flat surfaces. But if you need to engrave a bottle, for instance, then a machine with a bed that can be lowered will be more suitable for you.
The power of the machine's laser is another factor to consider. This property is measured in Watts. So, the higher the number of Watts, the more powerful the engraver.
Contrary to popular opinion, the power of the engraving doesn't affect the thickness of the material. So, higher power doesn't mean the machine will be able to cut into thick materials. It is the focal point of the machine's lens that determines the thickness of the material that the laser can cut.
However, the power affects the cutting speed. So, if you are looking to improve your cutting speed, then a machine with strong power will be suitable. But if you are new to engraving, then it may be better to start with weak power. You can then upgrade to a machine with stronger power later.
Buying a suitable engraver for your business is one thing. Getting support when you start using it is another thing.
While it is tempting to go for machines that come at relatively low prices, it is also important to ensure that you can get support from the manufacturer when you need it. This is why we suggest that you avoid machines that are from 'Generic' manufacturers.
It is important to consider factors like how easy it is to get replacements for the machine parts, whether or not the manufacturer has a website or tech support, and if there are tutorials and videos on how to use and repair minor faults in the machine.
Maintenance is another important aspect of the machine. To know the kind of maintenance that is required for the engraver, you'll probably need to read online customer reviews or ask anyone who may be using the machine currently.
Find out how often the machine will need maintenance and what to do if it breaks down.
Will you need to hire someone to maintain or repair the parts? What is the cost estimate for maintenance and repair? You can also here to learn more about engraving.
The accuracy of the engraving machine depends on a few factors like spindle power, engraving technique and competence, and transmission method.
Generally, a high spindle power will lead to higher accuracy and vice versa.
Also, the technique used and the expertise of the technician can affect the accuracy of an engraver.
When it comes to transmission methods, the lead screw drive has higher precision than the rack gear.
8. Software Compatibility
Often the machine may come with it a particular software such that you'll need to tailor all the work you do to the software's capabilities. If you are only just starting with engraving, engravers of this sort may be suitable for you.
On the other hand, other machines may be compatible with your existing software and the kind of work that you do. Machines like this are highly recommended for professional purposes. But note that they may be relatively pricier.
Tips on How to Use A Laser Engraver
Here are a few tips on how to use a laser engraver:
1. Use a center engraving
If you are working on customized items like awards that require center graphics or text, we recommend center engraving.
This technique will make it easy for you to work on items of different sizes without the need to use a customized template for each of the objects. All you need to do is manually move the laser to the center of each of the objects and the engraver will get the job done.
One reason that this technique is useful is that it saves you time from creating new templates for each item.
2. Engrave on several items at the same time.
This tip also helps you save time
So, instead of placing one object at a time on the bed and waiting until the engraving is done before working on the second object, you can have work on different items at the same time.
Engraving in batches can help you save up to 40% of your time
However, the number of items that you can engrave at the same time will mostly depend on the size of the bed. A bigger bed will accommodate more items and vice versa.
Meanwhile, it may be useful to separate and space out each item on the table with a jigger.
3. Adjust the resolution
The resolution of an engraver is measured in dots per inch (DPI). A high DPI implies that the dots produced by the laser will be close to each other to have a detailed image. A high DPI also means that the engraving process will take a long time.
You can, however, save up to 30% of your time by reducing the resolution.
You can also consider a technique called Dithering. Dithering eliminates dot patterns and randomizes them to deal with the weak resolution.
To achieve high-quality images, select the right dithering and image resolutions.
4. Consider Wood Grains
When it comes to engraving on wooden surfaces, it is important to consider the wood grain. Wood grains tend to change with the season. So, you need to pay attention to the changes too.
If you want a uniform design, then plywood is a material you may want to consider.
Also, if you are working with an object that has a thin layer of wood on top, you must be mindful of the material under the veneer. The laser is most likely going to burn through the veneer and will eventually expose the wood. You don't want a display of veneer and whatever is underneath. So, ensure that the engraving is evenly done. Click https://www.hunker.com/13401406/different-types-of-wood-grain to find out more about wood grains.
5. Pre-engrave items
One of the major threats to productivity is having to repeat the same process over and over again.
If you want to save time, you can pre-engrave some of the popular objects that customers request before orders come in. That way, as soon as you receive an order request for the time you can deliver the item immediately or make any modifications that the user may request.
6. Use a Honeycomb for Small Objects
If you will be cutting or engraving large objects on the engraver, then the metal strips should be sufficient guides for the process.
But when you cut objects that are smaller than the A3 size, you will need to use a honeycomb. Without the honeycomb, there's a high chance that the object may not fall back to the bottom of the machine. This may, in turn, pose a safety risk for the laser head and may eventually lead to damage.
Indeed, honeycombs are not the cheapest laser engraver accessories but they are worthy investments as they can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs and replacement.
A laser engraver is a machine that uses laser beams to engrave to creative cavities that eventually create designs and patterns on objects.
Engraving can be done on jewelry, art, plaques, awards, and trophies for branding or customization. This means there's almost no material that engraving can't be done on. However, not all engravers can work on every kind of material. This limitation, among others, is a major reason to be well-informed about engravers before you buy one.
Some of the factors to consider before you choose an engraving machine include your specific needs, your budget, accuracy, and strength of the laser, the bed size, maintenance, and after-sales support.
Are you using an engraver for the first time? Or do you want to learn how best to use an engraving machine? Then follow these tips:
Use center graving.
Engrave in batches.
Adjust the resolution.
Consider your wood grains.
Use a honeycomb for small objects.
Seeing that you now have detailed information about laser engravers, you can now make an informed decision when you shop for an engraver. You definitely are more informed on this subject than 99% of the population. That is, if you read through the whole article.