Types of laser engraving

laser cutting, cnc cutting

In addition to the CNC machines seen above, it is also important to stop at other types of machines. It is about those of laser engraving, with which you can create all kinds of typographical engravings and drawings on a surface (metal, wood, glass,...). Machines that are increasingly present in the industry for all types of engraving, and that are increasingly attracting more interest among makers and freelancers who want to start a business at home making this type of engraving.

In this new guide you will be able to learn how these machines work, the materials they can engrave, and some recommended models to help you in the next purchase.

The best laser engravers for your business

If you wish to buy a laser engraver For your business or for your DIY projects, you should see this list with some recommended for their value for money:

LaserPecker Pro Portable Recorder

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If you are looking for a compact and portable recorder that you can take from one place to another, this LaserPecker is what you need. It has its own app for mobile devices, to connect via Bluetooth and control it from there. It can be ideal for engraving labels and other small things such as mobile phone cases, key chains, notebooks, wallets, etc. It is powered by USB at 5V and 2A, enough for its high-precision laser with a 0.01mm point. The pack includes the laser engraver, autofocus support, cable and charger, protective glasses, tripod, ruler and manual.

In the app you can load the image you want, the text or import a G-Code file and in just a few moments you will have the model engraved on materials such as cardboard, fabric, felt, leather, wood, non-transparent acrylic, and more. Very practical for hobbyists and for souvenir and advertising workshops, such as for marking your own logo on the products you sell.

OMTech Professional Recorder

This is a professional laser engraver. A CNC machine for workshops or companies that want to engrave large parts up to 60×90 cm. It includes a very powerful 2W CO100 laser. It has a protective cabin, LCD screen for control, and a system with advanced features to perfect the most sophisticated engravings. It could engrave on materials such as wood, rubber, acrylic, delrin, fabric, leather, paper, fiberglass, plexiglass, tile, plastic, marble, cardboard, melamine, mylar, chipboard, plywood, cork, corian, etc. (non-metal)

It is very easy to use, it can be protected with a security password to prevent unauthorized use, it turns off automatically when the protective door is opened, it includes an air system to remove smoke, dust, etc. Includes RDWorks v8 and CorelLaser software to get started on your projects. It is compatible with Windows and can be connected via Ethernet or USB.

VEVOR KH9060 100W Industrial Recorder

This other CNC laser engraver is also ideal for professional use. With a powerful 2W high quality CO100 laser. It includes an engraving area of ​​90x60cm, a safety cabin, an air system to prevent gases and dust, it complies with FDA, CE and ISO9001 certificates, it is easy to use and reliable. It has an integrated LCD screen and intuitive controls.

It has a USB 2.0 connector, U disk system, 128 MB of internal storage to work independently of the PC, red pointer for better orientation and positioning of the pieces, capable of engraving wood, bamboo, plexiglass, glass, leather, rubber, etc. marble, glass, etc As for the formats, it supports a large number of them, such as BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, DXF, DST, HPGL, etc.

cnc6040

It is a 3 axis CNC engraving machine. This laser engraver-mill is also intended for professional use or for makers looking for something more advanced. It has a USB connection, it is easy to use, it can be perfect for industry, research, advertising design, art, students or entertainment. It is very powerful and allows you to have a 2 in 1, with its milling module and its laser engraving module, despite the fact that it has a much more compact and lighter size than the previous two.

On the other hand, you can work a huge number of metallic and non-metallic materials: wood, PVC, ABS, acrylic, aluminum, bronze, paper, PCB, soft metal such as copper and silver, as well as engrave in 2D and 3D with your milling machine (foam, MDF, plastics such as PMMA, soft metals, etc.).

XINTONGSPP

This other CNC laser engraving machine is also 3-axis, and with a more compact size to place on a workbench or table. It can work with materials such as plastic, wood, acrylic, PVC, PCB, etc. The software for Windows is very easy to use and quite powerful, so you will be able to translate everything you have in mind into a real design in no time. It includes a powerful spindle motor capable of reaching 9000 RPM, and a precise stepper motor.

Nvlifa A10 Pro

This laser engraving machine has a power of 11W, reaching temperatures of up to 1200ºC, it can even cut wooden boards up to 15mm thick, and black acrylic between 10-15mm thick. You can achieve very good results, with a working area of ​​up to 410×400 mm. Includes a 3.5″ touchscreen stand for offline recording so you can record anywhere. It can work with a large number of materials, such as wood, ceramics, plastic, etc.

Your laser has been improved in terms of focal optics, for precision engraving and cutting. It is stable, and does not need adjustment. It also features an emergency stop button for improved safety, protective cover with panoramic filter glass, and can work with software such as LightBurn, LaserGRBL, etc., compatible with Windows and macOS, as well as support for JPG, PNG, DXF , NC, BPM, etc

ATOM STACK P9 M50

This other CNC laser cutting and engraving center can work without connecting, from the control terminal that it includes, selecting the files with the designs to be engraved. Compatible with formats like NC, BMP, JPG, PNG, DXF, and more. It is compatible with various operating systems, and with multiple engraving software.

The included laser has a power of 10W, capable of engraving on various materials and with an ultra-fine focus of 0.06×0.06 mm. Thanks to its high density it can also be used to cut wood up to 20mm thick and black acrylic. It is also quite fast in the engravings, it has a safety panoramic filter to avoid eye burns, a modular design for easy disassembly and replacement, etc.

Mostics 2 IN 1 CNC 3018 Pro

It is another 2 in 1 CNC center, with a milling machine and a 5.5W power laser engraving module. This machine is quite affordable so it can be perfect for home, hobbyist use. Its performance and accuracy are quite good, with quality parts to improve its reliability. The motherboard is a GRBL v1.1.7, so it's easy to find drivers and compatible software for Windows, Linux, macOS, etc., such as LightBurn, Easel, Inskcape, ARtCAM, etc.

The mill spindle is very quiet, but can run at up to 10000 RPM. It is a fairly stable machine thanks to its metallic structure, with high-quality bearings to increase durability, and easy to use even by novices thanks to its friendly interface.

sculptfun S6 Pro

Another laser engraving machine with the ability to engrave metal, glass, leather, acrylic, ceramic, wood, etc. It has a powerful 5.5W laser with an ultra-fine focus of 0.08mm. Even wood up to 10 mm thick can be cut due to the penetration capacity of this laser. On the other hand, it is a robust, stable and durable CNC engraver.

Very easy to install and use, with the possibility to fix the focus easily and quickly. Includes eye protection screen to improve safety and filter UV rays harmful to the eyes. In terms of compatibility, it can work with various operating systems such as Windows and macOS since it works with LaserGRBL, LightBurn, Benbox, GRBLController, LiteFire, etc. software, and supports JPG, PNG, DXF, SVG, NC, etc. file formats. BPM, G-Code, etc

AOMSTACK A5 Pro

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This laser engraving machine can also be used for cutting. It mounts a 5.5W laser, with good precision, and capacity for cutting wood and acrylic up to 12 mm. You do not need to adjust the focus during engraving, and the focal optics have been improved to be more stable. It could work with lacquered metal, aluminum, wood, plastic, PCB, bamboo, paper, cardboard, etc.

Includes protection screen to avoid eye damage thanks to its filter, without the need to wear glasses. The work surface can be up to 410x400mm, and it can support software like LaserGRBL, LightBurn, so it will work on various operating systems. As for the accepted formats, you can use NC, BMP, JPG, PNG, DXF, etc.

Laser Aufer 1

Another of the two-in-one CNC laser engraving machines, since you can also cut with it, is this model. It is affordable and can work with leather, wood, metal, vinyl, paper, foam, aluminum, plastic, fabric, etc. Its laser is precise and can reach engraving speeds of up to 5000 mm/min. The motherboard of this machine is a 32-bit Ortur, it is easy to install, and it includes eye protection.

It can be a good addition for beginners and professionals, and it is compatible with engraving software such as LightBurn and LaserGRBL, so it can work perfectly with Linux, macOS and Windows operating systems.

VEVOR CNC 3018 Pro

Finally, you also have this other VEVOR for home and/or professional use. It includes a 3-axis control, based on GRBL, an effective work surface of up to 300x180x45 mm (XYZ), a precise and powerful 15W laser, and a milling cutter for machining parts. It can engrave on plastics, wood, aluminum, acrylic, PVC, PCB, bakelite, etc. On the other hand, if it is about cutting, it can only be done with some softer materials, hard metal cannot be used for engraving or cutting.

It is compatible with Windows, comes with the driver and instructions on a USB flash drive, is very easy to use, high performance, and very versatile. It features stepper motors and a powerful spindle motor with rotational speeds of up to 10000 RPM.

Cloudray Raycus Fiber Laser

This machine has a fiber laser source to work with hard metals such as stainless steel, among other materials such as plastic, etc. Its power is 30W + F-Theta Lens. It allows recording of 110×110 mm areas, with a safety box to avoid laser exposure of the operators. It is easy to operate, has backup software and remote assistance if problems arise.

It has a high speed for engraving marking, so it can be ideal for producing promotional items, gifts and plaques in large quantities. As for the included EZCAD software, it can work with Windows, and allows you to make the graphic or text designs you need, as well as send said file to the CNC machine so that it can start working.

VEVOR Fiber Laser Table

On the other hand there is also this VEVOR. One of the great brands in this type of machines. It comes equipped with a 30W fiber laser, and with a speed of up to 8000 mm/s. It can also be very fast for the production of parts quickly. It includes a table with swivel wheels so you can easily move it from one place to another.

The included laser allows you to engrave a multitude of materials, such as jewelry pieces, keyboards, mice, laptop cases, covers, electronic components such as a PCB, metal plates, etc. As for the software, it can work well with Windows with programs like CorelDraw, AutoCAD, and Photoshop, among other file formats.

JPT

JPT has also created this fiber laser marking machine. In this case, it is more powerful than the previous ones, with a power of 50W+lens. It works with up to 110×110 mm, and incorporates an 80 mm rotating axis. It can work with laser pulses of up to 200 ns, its beam is accurate to 0.002 mm, and the speeds are quite good, up to 7 m/s. Therefore, it is an ideal CNC machine for professional or small-scale industrial use.

As for the materials, it can work on metals such as stainless steel, silicone buttons, plastic, etc. Windows compatible EZCAD software is included, plus a user manual, fantastic technical support, and training video to make fitting quick and easy.

Laser engraving

laser engraving on wood and metal

El CNC laser engraving and cutting It is a widely used technology in the industry, since it allows fast and very precise work. You can find this type of machinery both for makers, as well as for small companies such as carpentry workshops, metal workshops, etc., and even in larger companies for the production of parts on a larger scale.

As we discussed in the previous article on cutting, the laser beam focused on the surface of the piece will be capable of marking, burning, or evaporating material, depending on the type of material. That way you can work.

Advantages

Between the advantages of this type of laser process are:

  • With a single machine you can engrave and cut
  • Great precision in cuts and engravings
  • Ability to replicate many identical parts
  • Can create complex layouts
  • Reduce the number of scrap parts
  • The tool does not require maintenance (sharpening, tool replacement,...)
  • No debris such as chips or dust is generated
  • Very clean cuts, without burrs, which will reduce revision and post-processing time.
  • The piece does not need to be held during the process, since at no time is it touched
  • It can be a profitable technology

Disadvantages

Not all are advantages, the disadvantages of this type of CNC machine is:

  • May burn some materials, such as certain woods, if exposure time is not minimized
  • Cuts in woods that are too wet or with resins are not as clean
  • The laser is a dangerous technology, so protective glasses should be used if the machine does not have a protective barrier to filter the emitted radiation.
  • The cutting speed is usually not the best compared to other CNC machines intended for cutting
  • Limitations on the thicknesses you can cut
  • Not suitable for certain transparent materials

Types of laser CNC machines

CNC laser cutting and engraving

As for types of cnc engraving We have several ways to catalog these machines. One of them is according to the technologies or laser sources, and another can be according to the material they can work with, although the vast majority accept multiple materials without changes.

Types of CNC laser engraver according to technology

Laser diode (solid state laser)

laser diode

One of the most widespread CNC engraving machines is the one that uses laser diodes. They are cheap and are usually used for DIY or small workshops or freelancers dedicated to engraving. This type of machine differs from the rest in that the source of the laser beam is obtained from a semiconductor device, an LED similar to IR or light, but that can emit a specific wavelength.

They have some and advantages Compared to other technologies:

  • They are small and light.
  • They have a fairly long lifespan, estimated at about 8000 hours.
  • Power can be adjusted while running, which can allow you to cut or engrave only, and even create multi-grayscale designs (PWM).
  • The laser will always point at the work surface, so no special protective equipment is needed, just a pair of goggles if you don't have a protective case with a filter.

However, they also have their disadvantages and limitations:

  • One of the main ones is the output power of the laser. Laser diodes are typically around 8W, some can reach up to 40W using small pulses, but they cannot maintain that maximum power consistently. Therefore, this may limit the materials you can work with and the thicknesses you can cut.
  • Nor will they be able to work with transparent or translucent materials, nor if it is a highly reflective material. Some of the most difficult materials to be engraved by laser diode are some shiny bare metals, glass, etc. Some of them would need masking material (or anodized metals), but this can be expensive.
  • They usually need more time than other more powerful lasers.

CO2 laser

co2 laser

On the other hand, machines with higher power output, for professional or industrial use, are usually based on CO2 lasers. These have the advantage of reaching higher powers, between 40W and 100W, enough power to cut thicknesses greater than those allowed by diode technology. However, these lasers are still somewhat limited in metal engraving as they often require a coating material to make it less of a reflective surface.

One of the main disadvantages of CO2 lasers is their size. The tube is usually big size and also fragile. On the other hand, the laser is visible to the naked eye, so you will need the machine to be completely closed. In addition to that, there are other considerations to keep in mind:

  • The CO2 laser tube is usually placed at the rear of the machine in a stationary way, using mirrors to direct the laser beam to the part. This results in the mirrors having to be oriented correctly, which can be tedious in some cases where it doesn't adjust automatically.
  • They also need water cooling to prevent the tube from overheating, as it tends to get quite hot during the process. This adds complexity, weight and bulk to the machine.

Despite everything, CO2 laser CNC engraving is usually very versatile due to its power and speed for small-scale production. Of course, it cannot generate gray scale effects in the recorded images, since it does not allow control or adjustment of the beam while it works.

fiber laser

fiber laser

Finally, another of the technologies for CNC engraving is the fiber laser. this is much newer than the two previous technologies, but it is increasingly better considered given its small focal diameter to increase the intensity of the beam up to 100 times with respect to CO2. Thanks to that, they can easily engrave and cut metals and other hard materials.

In this case, the useful life is even higher than the diode, so they will be more reliable machines. The useful life usually exceeds 25000 hours. The disadvantage is that it is a more expensive technology at the moment, so it is more oriented to industrial or professional use. They are expensive machines for the average user who needs them for DIY.

The technology is simply based on a tube where the laser beam is generated, which comes from a diode and will be conducted through a fiber optic cable doped with elements such as ytterbium or neodymium, amplifying the power of the beam.

Between the advantages of the fiber laser with respect to the diode and the CO2 are:

  • Much longer shelf life
  • Smaller laser beam diameter, concentrating power to improve cutting capabilities
  • Capable of recording texts and drawings in high resolution
  • The laser beam is more stable
  • Requires less investment in maintenance
  • They are very versatile due to the number of materials they can engrave and cut (steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, brass, copper, silver, gold, hardened metals, iron, etc.).
  • Fiber laser tubes are more compact than CO2 laser tubes of equivalent power

However, as is evident, it also has its disadvantages:

  • Higher equipment cost
  • Inability to process organic materials

These machines can be used for many applications: labeling, manufacturing or personalizing jewelry and other objects, engraving logos, text, barcodes and QR codes, serial numbers, traceability codes, engraving tools, cutting parts and marking, manufacturing electronic components, welding, cleaning of metals, and more.

Types of CNC laser engraver according to the material

laser engraving on wood

CNC laser engraving machines that support woodworking can mark with a lots of types of wood , both soft and hard, as well as MDF panels, plywood, etc. Not all woods work as well with this type of marking. It is best to work with woods with low humidity, with as little beta as possible, and with as little resin or sap as possible (resin causes darker burns).

Best to work are:

  • Cerezo: It is very easy to work and cut. However, you have to consider that over time it can darken and take on a more reddish brown color.
  • Alder: it is another wood that also darkens over time, but it is one of the best for working with the laser, since its lighter color leaves dark marks during engraving and with good contrast.
  • hard maple: it is a whitish wood, somewhat yellowish, and excellent for laser engraving due to its finishes. However, it is somewhat more complicated to work with since it is denser.
  • Linden: This wood is very soft and light. It works very easy and fast.
  • ochroma: a type of softwood widely used to create rafts. It has a somewhat reddish hue, can be tinted well, and can be engraved well. Its main flaw is that it can be susceptible to nicks and dents because it is not very hard.
  • Plywood: You can also work with a laser, but the results will depend on the quality of the plywood. However, for cuts it is a great choice, especially birch and bamboo.
  • Wood fiber boards: HDF, MDF, etc. are not suitable. These are made from cellulose and mixed with resins and compressed. That does not make them the best material to use with lasers because of the glues or resins used. However, MDF panels could be used for cutting, although some dark areas or burns will be generated.

For wood cutting or engraving some steps should be taken. adjustments to adapt well to this type of materials. Also, before proceeding with the engraving or cutting you should prepare the material well, and have everything suitable to start, such as dust filters, protection elements, etc.

metal laser engraving

Engraving laser on metal It is also widely used in industry, given the versatility of metals. In this case, CO2 and fiber lasers are usually used. The advantage of CO2 is that the mark is produced on the surface of the metal, without removing part of this metal, without interfering with the impact tolerance or resistance of the piece. Also, coated metals such as anodized aluminum or painted brass, plated, powder coated, etc., will not require pre-treatment.

For bare metals it is better to use fiber lasers. They are ideal for bare aluminum, brass, copper, nickel plated metals, stainless steel and more. What you do have to keep in mind is that this type of laser will create gray shadows and not black on aluminum or titanium. Depending on the alloys the tone will change.

Some of the most used metals for CNC they are:

  • Aluminum
  • Anodized aluminum
  • Chrome
  • Precious metals
  • Sheet metal up to 0.5 mm (brass, aluminium, copper, precious metals…)
  • Stainless steel
  • painted metal
  • Titanium

laser engraving on plastic

Another of the most important engravings after wood and metal is the plastic. It is one of the most widespread materials and used for its properties and large number of applications. Plastics can be lasered, though not all or all types of lasers, as they could melt or burn. Most plastics tolerate CNC laser engraving, marking and cutting well, but the most commonly used are:

  • ABS
  • Acrylics/PMMA, such as Plexiglas®
  • Rubber
  • Polyamide or PA
  • PET
  • Polycarbonate or PC up to 0.5mm
  • Polyethylene
  • Polyester
  • Polyamide
  • Polyoxymethylene or POM such as Derlin®
  • Polypropylene or PP
  • Polyphenylene sulfide or PPS
  • Polystyrene or PS
  • Polyurethane or PUR
  • PVC-free foam

laser engraving on glass

El glass or crystal engraving it is also possible by laser, although not all lasers can achieve it, not even in mirrors. However, there are machines in which these materials can be used. On the other hand, the advantages of using lasers to engrave mirrors, glasses, stained glass windows, jugs, bottles, etc., are:

  • Custom design possibilities and complex drawings
  • Precision
  • Flexibility for modifications even in small batches
  • Rapidity

jewelry laser engraving

Of course, another of the great uses of CNC laser engraving machines is the personalization of jewelery and costume jewelery, in addition to keyring plates, etc. In this sense, you can work from stainless steel, chrome, sheets, anodized metals, and even noble metals such as silver and gold.

More

Finally, they can also be used many other materials to engrave them using the CNC, such as:

  • Ceramics
  • Tiling
  • Granite
  • Methacrylate
  • Cork
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Skin
  • Fabrics
  • Marble
  • Stone
  • Food

As you know, CNC laser engraving machines are even used for the inscriptions they make on the PCBs or chips in the electronics sector...

Learn More


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