Laser engraving is the next step up when it comes to etching and glass engraving.
Whether you are using it for a business, or simply for crafting as a hobby, there is so much that can be done with laser engraving, With this in mind, we are going to be looking at what exactly a laser glass engraving machine can do and well as how it works and what to consider if you are thinking about buying one. Let’s get started.
What is Laser Engraving?
Laser engraving is simply the practice of utilizing a laser to engrave onto certain items, including glass.
This practice is a fantastic way to add another level of craftsmanship to glass products, as well as some style, flair, and individuality.
Laser glass engraving machines make this practice incredibly simple thanks to their easy-to-use nature in terms of both the machine controls and the software that can be used alongside the machines.
When it comes to what laser engraving is used for, it is a very versatile tool that allows for a range of uses, such as personalizing products for companies, making gifts, and engraving logos, serial numbers, or bar codes.
How Does a Laser Engraving Machine Work?
There are three major components to a laser engraving machine, the surface, the controller and-of course- the laser! Let’s look at each part individually:
- The Laser: This is the main event when it comes to a laser engraving machine! The laser acts as a drawing tool, featuring a laser beam that allows the user to carve certain patterns onto their chosen material.
- The Surface: This refers to the surface on which the laser will engrave onto. In the case of this particular machine, the surface users will be working with is glass.
- The Controller: As is expected, the controller will determine the exact movement of the laser in accordance with how you use it. The controller is responsible for the spread of the laser on the surface as well as the intensity, the speed of the movement, and the direction.
Now that we have looked at the main parts of a laser glass engraving machine, let’s take a closer look at exactly how the machines work.
There are a wide range of engraving techniques that can be used to create a variety of different designs on glass.
This is achieved via heat dissipation from the laser, as a fair amount of these techniques revolve around the way that the heat is dissipated onto the surface.
Laser engraving techniques are also established by the temperature that the surface is when the laser is active and how this temperature is controlled.
Let’s now take a closer look at both engraving and etching with a laser glass engraving machine.
As the name of the machine suggests, laser engraving is the most common thing you’ll be doing with this machine.
Engraving refers to an image cut into part of the glass, which will change the contour of the glass as well as the way it looks.
Glass engraving lasers will normally be stronger and more powerful in order for the glass to be efficiently vaporized in the areas that it needs to be.
In terms of depth, this can vary depending on factors such as the strength of the laser and the hardness of the glass.
Similar to engraving, but with key differences, laser etching refers to the process wherein only a small layer of the glass is cut into, due to the cuts from the laser being more shallow.
There are also different materials that can be used when either engraving or etching in order to maintain a smooth surface where the laser makes the cuts.
Application Tape: Better with Laser Engraving
Application tape is commonly used in laser beam engraving to ensure that no rough surfaces develop as the glass is in the process of being engraved by the laser.
Application tape is popular in that it is easily able to prevent both overlaps, rough edges and formations of air bubbles.
When it comes to the end result, application tape can result in an engraving result that is grayer in color.
If this is the kind of result you are looking for, then application tape could be the choice for you to use whilst engraving.
Dampened Paper Towel: Better with Laser Etching
This is another well-known technique that involves using a damp paper towel and placing it over the glass surface.
When doing so, make sure that there are no air bubbles, as this could lead to imperfections further down the line.
Once you have checked the surface- ensuring that there are no air bubbles present- you are ready to start using the laser.
Much like application tape, this method also helps to avoid any rough edges in the finished product.
Whilst the application tape method leaves a gray coloring as the end result, the damp paper towel method leaves a clear, white look.
It is definitely possible to use a laser glass engraver without having to use either a damp paper towel or application tape.
If you choose not to use either one, then the end result will depend entirely on the settings of the laser engraving machine as well as the design file that is being utilized.
Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Laser Engraving Machine
There are many different elements of a laser glass engraving machine to consider if you’re thinking about investing in one.
Some of these factors are obvious, whilst others are not so much. Let’s have a look at some of them.
A UV Laser Or CO2 Laser Engraving Machine
These are the two major kinds of laser engraving machines. A CO2 laser machine is much stronger in terms of power and is able to cut thicker materials out whilst cutting thinner materials faster.
A UV laser- otherwise known as an ultraviolet laser- uses high photon energy, which allows for a wide range of applications.
It does this by utilizing a natural wearing-away process that creates a cleaner edge with less thermal impact, even though they aren’t quite as powerful as CO2 laser engravers.
Both can work with most types of glass, but again it all comes down to what you are planning to make.
If it is engraving that you are more interested in, a CO2 laser is your best bet due to how much deeper the cuts are thanks to the powerful laser.
However, if it is etching that you are looking to do more of, then a UV laser is more suitable due to its accuracy and versatility.
The Frequency and Power of The Laser
In order to know just how powerful you need your laser to be, you’ll have to first know exactly what you are planning to make.
For pure engraving, a stronger laser- like the ones offered by CO2 laser cutters- is advised. Etching alone does not need to have as powerful a laser, so UV laser cutters could work better.
The Glass That You Want to Engrave On
Most glass is appropriate to etch and engrave on, but it is important to keep in mind that glass with higher lead content can sometimes cause issues when it comes to engraving, due to the fact that the lead within certain glass will expand quicker than the glass itself.
That can create problems with marking, but the leaded glass also causes issues in that the machine will often try to skip over the lead areas.
This can then lead to fractures or- in the worst case- complete breakage. Do your research in regard to the best glass to use for your project and if you are ever unsure, make sure to contact a professional to avoid any dangerous accidents.
So there you have some useful tips and information in regard to high-precision laser glass engraving machines.
If you are thinking about investing in one of these machines, make sure to pin down exactly what you are planning to do with it first and purchase one according to your needs.
Whether you are engraving or etching, there are no limits as to what you can do with the right laser engraving machine!
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