Laser engraving is a service that was once available only from large name companies. The size and cost of large workshops full of expensive and heavy specialty equipment made it hard to afford as a small businesses. So, consumer and manufacturing options were kept limited. Today, however laser engraving is far more accessible. Increases in component efficiency and decreased costs have created a market that supports specialty shops, small businesses, and even individual enthusiasts.
Selecting the right laser depends largely on the type of job being performed. Private individuals and organizations can use a CO2 laser engraver for a variety of tasks. Educational institutions use lasers in both etching and cutting. Materials that can be cut by lasers include wood, various metals, plastics and acrylics.
Jewelry engraving requires a relatively low power laser. For most uses a 20 to 30 watt fiber laser is ideal. These lasers are designed to have ten times better focus than CO2 laser tubes. Perfect for ultrafine detail on most precious metals, and it also works on alloys.
Fiber lasers are used to also cut other metals. Stainless steel and sheet metal can be cut relatively quickly and with incredible precision. Copper, brass and aluminum can as well. A fiber lasers utility depends primarily on its power level, beam frequency, focal point size, and available power ranges.
Glass etching is better suited to a CO2 laser. The glass must be kept as cool as possible during the process, and the best products are produced when the glass has a low lead or metal content. The CO2 can also cut and etch wood or leather. Harder materials such as ceramic, granite or marble can also be engraved. It is extremely versatile and can handle most engraving programs at relatively low power.
There seems to be no end to number and variety of jobs opening up for laser engraving. Purchasing and maintaining the equipment for a profitable business in laser engraving is at an all-time low. Rubber stamps, engraved gifts, leather goods and wooden or acrylic plaques – there are dozens of industries that can be explored by small businesses and private individuals. Choose the right laser for the job.